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Tested: the iPhone SE

Bits & Bytesby Steven15/06/2016

It's supposed to be a real little bruiser, but we wanted to see this with our own eyes...

We've become used to the larger, longer iPhones by now. Just think of the recent iPhone 6S for example. But now Apple returns to the smaller size with the new iPhone SE. 

From the outside it's the spitting image of the iPhone 5S of 2013. But on the inside it has more or less everything that its bigger brother, the 6S, has. In other words, it's a fast smartphone with an excellent camera and good battery autonomy. 

In short, it's supposed to be a real little bruiser. And it’s priced attractively too: it's the cheapest iPhone ever.
We wanted to see this with our own eyes. So we put the iPhone SE through its paces.

The results: superior in all respects
Design

Barring a few details, the design is the same as that of the iPhone 5S. Only the edges now have a matt finish and are in the same color as the rest of the phone. In that respect, there's little that excites here perhaps, but for us it's just fine. This iPhone is still bang up to date in terms of looks. As a matter of fact, fans have a new color to choose from: rose gold.

But it also means that everything simply feels solid yet light. Moreover, with the iPhone SE we see the return of the 4-inch screen. The phone therefore fits really snugly in your hand and makes scrolling easy. Mind you, this is also thanks to the angular design which we already encountered in the iPhone 5 and 5S.

Like Apple's other recent models, this entry-level iPhone has a fingerprint scanner. It's integrated in the home button. This security method allows you to protect your valuable Apple even more effectively. What's more, with this, you open your smartphone in just one second: it's faster than having to type in your code. In any case, we find it's more than just a nice gadget.

Screen

The iPhone SE has a 4-inch Retina touchscreen. Images are razor sharp and fluid. You can't see individual pixels with the naked eye. The colors are not excessively vivid, as is the case with many AMOLED screens of competing phones. Oh yes, and everything can be read clearly in sunlight.

However, there's of course the matter of the SE's screen size. Compared to what you find on the market these days, a four-inch screen is rather small. But, on the other hand, it means the iPhone is very compact and makes scrolling a doddle. Especially if you have small hands. So you'll have to weigh up the pros and cons of this for yourself: do you really need a large screen? In our opinion, 4 inches are more than enough for quite a number of users.

Camera

With regard to the camera, the iPhone SE is of the same caliber as its big brother, the iPhone 6S, i.e. it has 12 megapixels and even allows you to shoot video in 4K.  We feel the latter is pretty good for a phone in this price category. Our tests confirmed that the camera does indeed produce the same results as that of the 6S. Photos of multi-colored subjects are particularly impressive: the colors are not exaggerated.

What's more, the camera seems good at producing sharply focused images of moving subjects. Ideal, for example, for capturing some action during a football match.

A bonus is that the camera doesn't protrude from the housing like with the 6S. This means the phone lies more stably on a surface such as a table. And it's simply slicker.

The iPhone SE also has a 1.2 megapixel front camera. Admittedly, there are smartphones with better cameras out there. But the fact that you can use your screen as a flash means the end result is worth seeing.

Battery

The iPhone SE is excellent in almost every respect. But if there's one thing that really blew us away it's its battery autonomy. Thanks to a bigger battery, combined with the smaller screen and the frugal processor, the SE is king here.  Even during intensive use you'll easily get through the day and still have battery power to spare. In this respect it performs better than practically all top models, regardless of the brand. Impressive!

Multimedia and games

The processor, too, is identical to the one of the iPhone 6S. That should really put your mind at ease. Playing games, watching movies or having many apps open at the same time will not faze the iPhone SE. Even heavy 3D games or HD videos on YouTube were no problem at all. Everything loads quickly and smoothly without hitches.

A bit of good advice: if you want to save lots of apps and games (along with the requisite music and self-made 4K videos), it's best you opt for the 64 GB model.

The highlights

A number of useful features especially caught our attention. Here's an overview:

Fingerprint scanner

It’s always good to give your valuable possession that bit of extra protection.

Retina Flash

Are your selfies too dark? Apple has come up with a solution ...

240 fps Slow Motion

Want to capture movement in extra slow motion and full detail? Then this is ideal!


In summary ...

In our opinion, the iPhone SE lives up to the high expectations. 
Since it has taken over most internal components from the 6S, it is able to more than measure up to the competition. We can give both the camera and the fast processor the thumbs up. 
But it's mainly the exceptionally good battery that blew our minds. As far as we're concerned, the SE’s battery autonomy is unrivalled, even by top models from Apple and other brands.

iPhone SE

A compact phone which is bang up to date and competitively priced to boot!

9/10

Pros:
  • Handy size
  • Long battery life
  • Good quality rear camera 
Cons:
  • The quality of the front camera
  • Memory not expandable
Sold?
Steven

Steven

I'm Steven. As a lover of technology within Proximus I found my place in the Mobile Devices team. Every day I'm busy with smartphones. Besides surfing on technology blogs I brew beer in my spare time and I go out to dine as much as possible.

I'm Steven. As a lover of technology within Proximus I found my place in the Mobile Devices team. Every day I'm busy with smartphones. Besides surfing on technology blogs I brew beer in my spare time and I go out to dine as much as possible.


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