Apple has a new iPhone that looks incredible, is faster than ever, and is outrageously expensive. The base model costs US$1,000.
But there’s good news, friends: There’s a far better iPhone out there right now, and it costs less than half the price of the absurdly priced iPhone X.
That phone is the iPhone SE – Apple’s best iPhone. Here’s the deal.
1. The iPhone SE is remarkably affordable, at just US$350 to start.
Millions of people will excitedly plunk down a full stack for the iPhone X. It’s more than just a phone – it’s a status symbol. I get it. It’s a much more affordable version of a Ferrari. Fine. But I’m a Honda Civic kinda guy.
I want something affordable, powerful enough, and long-lasting. I’m not trying to impress anyone, nor am I the kind of person who lives on the bleeding edge of tech gadgets. That is why I was excited to see that, alongside the announcement of the iPhone X, Apple quietly made the iPhone SE US$50 less expensive.
At US$350 to start, with 32 GB of storage and the internals of an iPhone 6S, the iPhone SE is the perfect Honda Civic of smartphones.
2. The iPhone SE is shockingly powerful.
The chip that powers the iPhone SE also powers the iPhone 6S and the most recent iPad. It’s called the Apple A9, and it’s more horsepower than you need in a smartphone – Apple calls it “the most powerful 4‑inch phone ever”, specifically because of that chip.
More than just a zippy device, the A9 powers 4K video recording, high-definition games, and pretty much everything else you want to do with your iPhone. Most importantly, the A9 makes the iPhone SE feel like a modern phone in terms of everyday use.
3. Like other iPhones and prominent Android phones, it has a killer camera.
The iPhone SE doesn’t have optical image stabilisation or wide-colour capture like the newer iPhones, so it won’t perform as well in low light, and videos won’t be as smooth. But don’t worry: Everything from 4K video to HDR photos is built into the iPhone SE. And yes, you can take “live photos” on the iPhone SE, just as you would on any other recent iPhone.
Most importantly, though, you can snap crisp, beautifully detailed photos using the iPhone SE’s 12-megapixel rear camera – its aperture is slightly different from the newer phones, but the camera’s the same as the iPhone 7, the iPhone 8 lines, and the iPhone X. Like the A9 chip at the heart of the iPhone SE, the camera on the iPhone 6S is built into the iPhone SE.
4. At 4 inches, the iPhone SE is a normal-size phone.
The new iPhone X is a massive hunk of glass, metal and silicon. We’re talking about a phone that comes in a single size – nearly 15.2cm tall and 7.6cm wide.
The iPhone SE seems tiny, but here’s the thing: It isn’t. The iPhone SE seems tiny only by comparison, as we’ve all got used to smartphones getting bizarrely larger every year. Some folks love this enlarging and purchase Plus versions of the iPhone. I am not one of those people, and you may be like me. If that is the case, the “small” iPhone SE is right up your alley.
Bonus: The iPhone SE easily fits into, say, a small clutch, while many of the hulking iPhone Plus won’t. Something to consider!
5. The iPhone SE has a headphone jack.
Starting with the iPhone 7 in 2016, every new iPhone – including the iPhone 8 and iPhone X – dropped the headphone jack. If you already own Bluetooth headphones, or you’re looking to drop over $150 on Apple’s AirPods, this isn’t a huge problem. Maybe you never use headphones? Also not a big problem for you.
But I commute daily on the subway, as do millions of other people, so headphone jacks are something I consider a crucial feature on any modern smartphone.
There’s nothing quite like the frustration of going to listen to music only to find that your Bluetooth headphones are dead. You know what never happens with wired headphones? That!
6. The iPhone SE has the same great operating system as every other iPhone.
Despite Apple making it seem as if you need the newest iPhone to get the latest Apple experience, the truth is that every recent iPhone model runs the same version of iOS.
On the iPhone SE, you get the same access to Apple’s walled garden of products and services – the App Store, for instance – the same security updates, and the same new emojis as every iPhone X owner.
BONUS: Compare different iPhone models easily with Apple’s tool.
Apple does an excellent job of making people believe they need the newest iPhone. Every September, a variation of the same dog-and-pony show touts whatever the latest iPhone is as “the best iPhone ever made”.
Even if that were true every time, each person has their preferences. You might care a lot about the front-facing camera, for instance – and, in that respect, you may want to go with a model other than the SE.
Good news: There’s a simple, easy-to-use iPhone-comparison tool that Apple offers on its website. Check it out before you buy any new iPhone.