It’s the iPhone so many have been asking for: a combination of useful features and an affordable price tag.
Now, Cupertino has delivered. A $399 iPhone SE launches today, and it’s the perfect phone for so many people.
I’ve been playing with the phone for the past 24 hours and it’s easy to fall in love with. So, what do you get for that price tag, and what don’t you get? Let’s find out.
Follow Tech Reporter Rich DeMuro on Instagram for more tech news, tips and gadgets!
For starters, it’s a smaller device. It has a 4.7 inch LCD screen, which isn’t as bright or vibrant as the OLED displays on Apple’s top of the line devices. Still, it’s just fine for everyday use. You might not even notice unless you have it side by side with another phone.
The iPhone SE marks the return of a home button, along with a fingerprint reader Apple calls Touch ID. There is no facial recognition on the SE, which at this point is probably a good thing since Face ID doesn’t work when you have a protective mask on.
Also, Touch ID gives you a bit more control over unlocking the device. You decide when it unlocks instead of it just recognizing your face.
Like most phones these days, there is no headphone jack on the iPhone SE. Apple includes wired headphones in the box that will plug into the lightning port on the bottom of the phone. Of course, you would always spring for a pair of AirPods down the line. They are my favorite Bluetooth wireless earbuds.
The camera is probably the biggest difference between the iPhone SE and the iPhone 11 models.
On the SE, there is just one lens on the back. That means there are no wide angle shots and no optical zoom. You can still zoom in on your shots, but it will all be digital. Additionally, there is no night mode on the SE.
This doesn’t mean you’re not getting a perfectly capable everyday camera. Apple has perfected its cameras over the years and the SE is no slouch. The back camera can record 4K video and both cameras can create portrait mode pictures with those fancy looking blurry backgrounds.
The iPhone SE also supports wireless charging. When it comes to battery life, Apple describes it as being on par with the iPhone 8. That’s about 14 hours of talk time, 12 hours on the internet, 13 hours of watching videos and 40 hours of listening to music. Of course, those are just estimates, your experience will vary.
Perhaps the best part of this phone is the chip inside: it’s Apple’s fastest, the A13 Bionic. The same chip inside their top of the line iPhone 11 lineup.
Including their best processor was a key decision by Apple and one of the main reasons I’m going to recommend this phone to a lot of people. You’re not getting an underpowered device.
The SE will be able to handle today’s modern smartphone apps with ease. Along with regular iOS updates, you’re looking at a phone you can have in your pocket for at least the next three years.
Which brings me to this conclusion: the iPhone SE is a perfect phone for many people. People who want a fast device, great pictures, access to amazing apps, iMessage and FaceTime, a wide range of accessories and compatibility with the Apple ecosystem including Apple Watch.
In other words, you’re not just buying a phone, you’re buying entree into something much bigger.
Although the design and technology of the iPhone SE isn’t necessarily the freshest, it sets a new standard for what a budget phone can do at this price.
If you want the best photos and videos an iPhone can deliver, you’ll still want to go with an iPhone 11 model. But for just about everyone else, the iPhone SE will be a great little device.
For $399, you get a 64 gigabyte model. My only recommendation is to spend the extra $50 to get double the storage, as you can’t expand it later.
NOW: Listen to the Rich on Tech podcast, where I talk about the tech news I think you should know about and answer the questions you send me!