We knew practically everything there was to know heading into Monday’s big Apple event, but there were still a couple of surprises — and one of them was pretty huge. In 2015, Apple sold 30 million new iPhones that had 4-inch screens. 30 million! There are some smartphone vendors that don’t even ship 30 million total units in a year, and yet Apple’s old 4-inch iPhone models are still selling like hotcakes in many regions.
That stat alone makes the iPhone SE a bigger deal than many people thought it would be, but the phone’s appeal extends well beyond that. In fact, the new iPhone SE is a shockingly good phone, and we’ll run down the five best (and two worst) things about it right now.
We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are still plenty of people who want smaller iPhones.
The lower price is certainly a draw as well, but many people simply don’t want a bigger phone. The iPhone SE fits comfortably in just about any small or average-sized hand. It’s a tried and true design, and the display is still stunning despite being so compact.
Size is also what sets the new iPhone SE apart from the rest of Apple’s lineup as well as most Android phones. Even affordable mid-range Android handsets are fairly large these days.
This is key. Early rumors suggested the iPhone SE might be a somewhat minor upgrade compared to the iPhone 5s it would replace. More recent reports leading up to the event stated it would have many of the same internal components of the iPhone 6s though, and that ended up being the case.
Put plainly, the iPhone SE is far too powerful and capable a smartphone to also be so affordable. Once released, it will be the best value in the world and people no longer have an excuse to buy a mid-range Android phone.
All those internal components from the iPhone 6s also include the camera from Apple’s latest 4.7-inch smartphone. It might not be the best camera in the world, but it’s pretty darn close and it’s now available in Apple’s most affordable new smartphone ever.
Users shopping in this price range don’t have a single other option that comes anywhere close to matching the camera on the iPhone SE. Not one.
The iPhone SE has something else that other comparably priced mid-range smartphones don’t have: iOS and the surrounding app ecosystem.
I really want to ditch my iPhone and switch to the Galaxy S7, but there’s no way I can leave iOS at this point. It’s just too good. The third-party apps are better, the overall user experience is better, and now it’s all available in a surprisingly powerful but compact package at a shockingly low price point.
And about that price point…
$399? That’s an incredibly low price for such a solid new phone. The base price will be a bit higher in some markets, but Apple obviously did its homework and made sure to price the new iPhone SE within reach of the customers it hopes to address.
Nothing is perfect and there are plenty of things people will gripe about on the iPhone SE. For me, two things in particular stand out.
First, Apple took all these great new components from the iPhone 6s but it kept the old Touch ID sensor from iPhone 5s. The company built such a phenomenal overall experience with the SE, and having the lightning-fast new Touch ID scanner would have really helped to keep everything on that high level. The sensor from the iPhone 5s is still faster than some other options and Apple likely tried to cut costs here, but it won’t deliver the same great experience as the iPhone 6s.
And lastly, the design.
The iPhone 5 was a great phone in 2012, and the iPhone 5s has been doing well for the past few years since its introduction in 2013. But wouldn’t Apple have attracted even more new buyers if the SE featured a fresh new design?
Sticking with the iPhone 5’s design makes sense in some ways and it certainly helped Apple keep its R&D and production costs low, but it will definitely be disappointing to some potential customers. In fact, it might be the biggest mistake Apple make with the iPhone SE.