Hands-On With the New Low-Cost 2020 iPhone SE

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The iPhone SE had its official launch day today, with the first orders arriving to customers this morning. We picked up one of the new (PRODUCT)RED iPhone SE models and checked out the design and features in our latest YouTube video, which is worth watching if you're thinking of making an upgrade from an older iPhone.



Despite the "iPhone SE" name that hails back to the original iPhone SE that was released in 2016, the new iPhone SE looks identical to an iPhone 8, which means it has a larger 4.7-inch display than the 4-inch display included with the original SE.


At 4.7 inches, the iPhone SE is now Apple's smallest iPhone, which may be a disappointment to some users who preferred the 4-inch form factor. The iPhone SE's design is one that Apple first introduced in 2014 with the iPhone 6, so this is a six-year-old form factor, and compared to newer iPhones, it's dated, but Apple has added some design tweaks to make it seem fresher.

Like the iPhone 8, the iPhone SE is made from two panes of glass sandwiching an aluminum frame. The all-glass design allows for wireless charging, but it does make the phone more vulnerable to drops than earlier iPhones that had aluminum backs.


Design wise, the iPhone SE has thick top and bottom bezels, with all models featuring a black face plate that minimizes the bezel design better than the white face of some prior models. There's a Touch ID Home button, and along with being Apple's smallest iPhone, the iPhone SE is also the only iPhone with Touch ID in the current lineup.

iPhone SE vs. iPhone 8​
Since it's the only iPhone with Touch ID, it's the iPhone of choice for people who just don't like Face ID, and for those who want the familiarity of the biometric authentication method that they've used for years now.


Like its successors, the iPhone SE has no headphone jack and it does away with 3D Touch, adopting the Haptic Touch used in the newer iPhone models. With the loss of these features, though, it gains Qi-based wireless charging capabilities and fast charging, allowing it to charge from 0 to 50 percent in 30 minutes with an 18W+ power adapter and a USB-C to Lightning cable.


The new iPhone SE also has one of the best features from Apple's flagship devices - the A13 Bionic chip. It's the fastest chip ever in an iPhone, and it puts the iPhone's CPU and GPU power on par with Apple's much more expensive iPhones. There's 3GB RAM in the iPhone SE, and the base model starts at 64GB, way up from the 16GB starting storage of some of Apple's older devices. For an extra $50, 128GB of storage is available, and there's also a 256GB storage tier for those who have a lot of photos or music.

When it comes to the camera, it's a little confusing. Apple isn't using hardware from the iPhone 11, and the SE appears to have the same single-lens camera as the iPhone 8, but with software improvements and computational photography techniques added by the A13 along with hardware tweaks, the iPhone SE takes better pictures than the iPhone 8 (and all of the older iPhones).


It has Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting capabilities for both the front and rear-facing cameras despite the lack of multiple lenses, plus it has Smart HDR, optical image stabilization, and other built-in software features that put out some crisp, vivid images that are close to on par with the flagship iPhones.


Photos aren't as good as the photos you get with an iPhone 11 or 11 Pro because there's not as much versatility in focal length and there is no support for Night Mode. The iPhone SE struggles more in low and ultra-low lighting conditions compared to Apple's pricier iPhones.

When it comes to video, the iPhone SE can record 4K video at 60 fps, which is a killer feature in a smartphone at this price point. Videos recorded with the iPhone SE look great. We'll be doing an in-depth comparison between the cameras of the iPhone SE, iPhone 8, and iPhone 11, so make sure to stay tuned to MacRumors for that video.


The iPhone SE sports Gigabit LTE (on par with iPhone 11) and WiFi 6 support, and with the A13 chip, this is a phone that Apple has designed to work well for several years to come. It will get software updates right alongside the 2019 flagship models, and for those who have held on to an iPhone 6 or 6s for years, the iPhone SE is positioned to last just as long.

There are no bells and whistles with the iPhone SE, and it has an outdated design with Touch ID, thick bezels, and single-lens camera, but it is a super fast meat-and-potatoes smartphone that's an incredible deal at $399. Have you picked up an iPhone SE? Let us know in the comments.

Article Link: Hands-On With the New Low-Cost 2020 iPhone SE
 

Quicksilver867

Contributor
Jun 25, 2007
265
128
Columbus
Pre-ordered one, and had it delivered to my friend's house as I wasn't home during the delivery window. Still haven't had the chance to pick it up from him.

I'm one of the holdouts clutching to TouchID, so this should work out for me. It's not what I truly want, which is a full-screen device with TouchID ability, but it's the closest I can get. A13+gigabit LTE+WiFi 6 are big selling points.

Looking forward to its improvements over the 7, and to the $120 once that 7's trade-in processes.
 

MrGuder

macrumors 68030
Nov 30, 2012
2,891
1,885
Every time I read “low cost” I think to myself it’s not as good as a higher end iPhone. I know the SE is a great phone but so is the iPhone pro. $400.00 vs $1200.00 Apple is to blame for some of this...for pricing their phones too high when the X came out. Now we have “low cost” iPhones.
 

citysnaps

macrumors 603
Oct 10, 2011
6,493
10,940
San Francisco
Every time I read “low cost” I think to myself it’s not as good as a higher end iPhone. I know the SE is a great phone but so is the iPhone pro. $400.00 vs $1200.00 Apple is to blame for some of this...for pricing their phones too high when the X came out. Now we have “low cost” iPhones.

If you're on a budget and want a smaller phone, $400 is a great price.

Need more features and a larger display? Easy...pay for them. The iPhone Pro you mentioned above is $1,000, not $1,200, also a great price.
 

astroplop

macrumors newbie
Apr 24, 2020
3
1
Hey everyone -

The iPhone SE does not support Haptic Touch on notifications. It is the first iOS device released without 3D touch that you cannot Haptic Touch on notifications. On the 6S-XS Series wyou could 3D touch a notification to use quick actions, on the XR and 11 series you long press on them. You cannot do this on the SE. Just want to make sure everyone knows since for some reason no reviewer has mentioned it yet. Apple has confirmed this is true and no software update is planned.
 
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LizKat

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2004
6,665
35,982
Catskill Mountains
If wearing gloves how does TouchID work.

Lots of food and drugstores have requirements now for customers to wear masks but not gloves. (The stock clerks wear gloves and masks because their potential exposure on the job is assumed to be greater.)

For medical care providers, some still can strip gloves off per patient but not masks.... because they're short N95 type of mask.
 

allenvanhellen

macrumors 6502
Dec 8, 2015
288
738
The Portrait Mode test photo here shows how useless it can be, especially on single-lens cameras. Look at the un-blurred piece of countertop between the child’s arm and torso!
 

allenvanhellen

macrumors 6502
Dec 8, 2015
288
738
Hey everyone -

The iPhone SE does not support Haptic Touch on notifications. It is the first iOS device released without 3D touch that you cannot Haptic Touch on notifications. On the 6S-XS Series wyou could 3D touch a notification to use quick actions, on the XR and 11 series you long press on them. You cannot do this on the SE. Just want to make sure everyone knows since for some reason no reviewer has mentioned it yet. Apple has confirmed this is true and no software update is planned.
Are you sure? No Haptic Touch?

 

astroplop

macrumors newbie
Apr 24, 2020
3
1
Are you sure? No Haptic Touch?

On Notifications. You can long press on icons on the home screen, but you cannot long press on notifications. I bought the SE today, I use Haptic Touch dozens of times a day, so I'm returning it tomorrow.
 

Joniz

macrumors 6502
Sep 21, 2017
409
1,098
I’m sure I’m going to love it since I’m getting it through Walmart for $199.

Tried to get another on their deal which goes until June 17, but they’re out and you can’t backorder.

So how is that a deal until June 17?
 

tyr2

macrumors 6502a
May 6, 2006
809
112
Leeds, UK
I’ve upgraded from a 6 and it’s nice having all the little features I’ve seen announced over the years but have never had and had kind of forgotten about. Stuff like:

* Hey Siri when not plugged in
* Raise to Wake
* The haptic touches for small acknowledgements
* Tru tone display
* the swipe keyboard. Not sure if I like this yet but it’s nice to have the option

On the downside I never realised I sometimes push the home button with my nail, which doesn’t work, and the lack of a headphone port is already frustrating, I completely forgot when ordering it and didn’t order an adapter.

Other than that it’s basically fixed all the stuff that was annoying with the 6, like app reloading, widgets taking eons to load, safari performance being barely usable. Very happy with the upgrade.
 

code-m

macrumors 68000
Apr 13, 2006
1,932
1,521
Lots of food and drugstores have requirements now for customers to wear masks but not gloves. (The stock clerks wear gloves and masks because their potential exposure on the job is assumed to be greater.)

For medical care providers, some still can strip gloves off per patient but not masks.... because they're short N95 type of mask.

I believe the sarcasm was lost.
[automerge]1587768293[/automerge]
WTF are you talking about? Seriously.

Same design with some of the internals of the iPhone 11, figure it out. Prolonged Isolation, seriously.
[automerge]1587768329[/automerge]
Touch ID works, gloves don't.

haha.
[automerge]1587768461[/automerge]
Every time I read “low cost” I think to myself it’s not as good as a higher end iPhone. I know the SE is a great phone but so is the iPhone pro. $400.00 vs $1200.00 Apple is to blame for some of this...for pricing their phones too high when the X came out. Now we have “low cost” iPhones.

Poor choice of words I agree, should be referred to as “affordable” option.
 

LizKat

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2004
6,665
35,982
Catskill Mountains
I believe the sarcasm was lost.

Possibly, although your point is valid as a straight assertion.

My own reference was because of a thread segment elsewhere, where I had noted that someone in the caregiving profession had purchased an SE precisely because of having to punch in a passcode over a facemask having caused the FaceID to request it. Hence my reference to shortage of gloves and the SE's TouchID being more convenient in the circumstances.
 

Mr. Dee

macrumors 68030
Dec 4, 2003
2,578
3,887
Jamaica
These days I only watch one or two reviews: MKBHD and The Verge and that’s it. Those two give you pretty much all the details you need. It appears Apple and other smart phone vendors are letting the reviewers keep the reviewer units, because I noticed WSJ and Dieter Bohn had other models of the Galaxy and iPhone to compare it to.
 
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code-m

macrumors 68000
Apr 13, 2006
1,932
1,521
Possibly, although your point is valid as a straight assertion.

My own reference was because of a thread segment elsewhere, where I had noted that someone in the caregiving profession had purchased an SE precisely because of having to punch in a passcode over a facemask having caused the FaceID to request it. Hence my reference to shortage of gloves and the SE's TouchID being more convenient in the circumstances.

Roger, understood O&O.:)
[automerge]1587768781[/automerge]
These days I only watch one or two reviews: MKBHD and The Verge and that’s it. Those two give you pretty much all the details you need. It appears Apple and other smart phone vendors are letting the reviewers keep the reviewer units, because I noticed WSJ and Dieter Bohn had other models of the Galaxy and iPhone to compare it to.

Maybe part of the established and trusted reviewers list.
 
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Think creative

macrumors 6502
Jul 27, 2013
252
715
These days I only watch one or two reviews: MKBHD and The Verge and that’s it. Those two give you pretty much all the details you need. It appears Apple and other smart phone vendors are letting the reviewers keep the reviewer units, because I noticed WSJ and Dieter Bohn had other models of the Galaxy and iPhone to compare it to.
Renie Richie does such a good job of deep diving I've added him to my list. Verge is always budget version of MKBD, TLD, and your average consumer videos. Those all have good stuff so I watch about four.
 
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