It’s probably not a secret at this point that a number of people were disappointed when Apple seemed to move away from the 4” form factor with the iPhone 6. It turns out that there’s a sizeable market for a smaller iPhone, so rather than letting the 4” size die away quietly Apple has introduced the 4” iPhone SE for those that want a smaller iPhone without having to buy something that is relatively out of date.

In the hand, the iPhone SE basically feels identical to the iPhone 5s. The design is pretty much the same with its lack of camera hump and sharp lines, but rather than polished chamfered edges Apple has elected to keep the chamfer sand-blasted matte. The weight of the phone is also noticeably less than the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s, which is due to the lack of 3D Touch and the smaller size of the device. The display also looks to be quite similar to the iPhone 5s.

Other than this, I don’t really have a lot to say because it feels almost exactly like an iPhone 6s otherwise. As a heavy 3D Touch user, the lack of 3D Touch is noticeable, especially when playing back Live Photos. But other than that performance is similarly fast and I didn’t see any obvious problems, however many of these under the hood changes are going to be quite difficult to notice in the space of a few minutes as they’re quite subtle.

Although not quite in the realm of a hands-on, the main area of note here is the price as Apple has basically released a cheaper version of the iPhone 6s in a smaller size. In developing countries it seems that the cheaper iPhones are often the most popular, so it’s interesting to see how Apple has effectively upped the value of this version of the iPhone in a very big way. To get close to the 399 USD price point of the new iPhone SE, previously you had to get a phone 2 generations old with a relatively outdated SoC, so it’s impressive to see that now for the same price you can get something that has the latest and greatest in almost every way save for modem and size.

It’s also worth noting that Apple is basically completely uncontested in this part of the market. Although there are a lot of budget phones out there using 4" screens to hit their respective price point, Apple seems to be the only OEM still playing in the 4” display size space for high-end phones. There are a few Android OEMs trying to keep phones at the 4.5-4.7” segment (i.e. iPhone 6s size) with similarly high-end specs, but no Android OEM is trying to sell a 4” phone with high-end hardware. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effects this has on sales, although I’m not entirely sure that Android OEMs are going to be following Apple’s lead here as a smaller device makes battery efficiency more critical due to scaling effects.

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  • Spectrophobic - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

    You can't really say that. Everyone's hands are different. Not only in size, but other body features contribute to handling as well.
  • zodiacfml - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

    Wow, I wished I had money to throw away. Can't shake the idea of a very high performing SoC on such a small device. I wonder the onscreen fps of games on this!
  • Ethos Evoss - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

    how ppl are so stupid.. really einstein was so right in every aspect .. human stupidity is unlimited ..
    so apple takes oportunity and take advantage and abuse it..
    only truly stupid idiots will buy this .. and so expensive again..
  • Spectrophobic - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

    So... what's a cheaper device at the same size and performance?
  • Harry_Wild - Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - link

    There going be a lot of iPhone 6 and 6S customers that will be buying the brand new SE! Just surprise that Apple did not at the features of the 6S+ and make it the flagship iPhone!
  • superflex - Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - link

    Shouldn't they just call this the sucker edition.
    You can buy the 4S for $199 new.
    Adding 4k video and a few bells and whistles makes this worth another $200?
    You sheeple are delusional
  • CloudWiz - Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - link

    I don't think 8x the CPU, 12x the GPU, Touch ID, a thinner, lighter, and slightly larger body, and a far better design are "a few bells and whistles". And I'm not even talking about the 12 MP back camera with PDAF and much improved ISP, along with minor things like Hey Siri or 64 GB storage.
  • grayson_carr - Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - link

    Dafuq? The 4S is slow as hell running iOS 9 and the latest apps and games.
  • UtilityMax - Sunday, March 27, 2016 - link

    Dude.. have you used a 4S recently? It got incredibly slow after the iOS 8 release. There are youtube videos showing anecdotal evidence that the older iPhone 4 running iOS 7 (the last supported iOS on that iPhone) is actually faster at most tasks than the iPhone 4S running iOS 8 or 9. And now, most people would agree that the iPhone 4 performance also sucks and they would have preferred if iPhone 4 did not get the iOS 7 even.

    Anyways, considering this, it's an utter waste of money to buy a 4S for $200.. It was a solid phone, but very slow by now. For $200, you can now buy a very decent Android smartphone, and in fact there are several very good options: ASUS Zenfone 2/32GB, Motorola Moto G (16GB), or Huawei Honer 5X.

    The old iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5S are actually still pretty usable in terms of performance, but in many cases those old phones have by now failing batteries or cracked screen glass, so a lot of the owners of those iPhone 5/5S as well as the older 4/4S should probably be interested in getting a $400 iPhone SE.
  • txmoney - Sunday, March 27, 2016 - link

    I am interested in getting the SE not because I can't afford the iPhone 6/6S (I can) but because I genuinely prefer the smaller size. I own the iPhone 6 and with nearly two years of use, I never really liked the size. I will buy the SE and swap out the sim card from my 6. If the 7 turns out to be so much better (although I'm not thrilled with the lack of standard headphone jack that's rumored) I will get that too.

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