Apple iPhone SE review: Old bottle, new wine

first_imgIf you’re someone who love the iPhone 5S, so much so that you can continue to cling on to your old phone, then it is time for you to rejoice. Apple’s latest iPhone — the SE — is basically the same iPhone 5S-style device in terms of looks. But it comes with almost all the modern and latest features that are inside the iPhone 6S.It is a classic case of an old bottle with a new wine. Although, the bigger question is about its appeal to a bigger set of consumers. Can a phone with 4-inch screen really have mass appeal in 2016? We find out.DesignThe iPhone SE looks identical to the iPhone 5S. That’s because Apple is using the same design and same chassis as the one on the iPhone 5S. Many consumers may not find it very appealing, considering it to be old and stale, but the fact is that this is a very premium design. In fact, the iPhone SE possibly sports that best iPhone design Apple has ever released. It looks great, feels fantastic in hands and in “rose gold” looks extremely dashing.Once you take a better look at the phone, you will see some differences compared to the iPhone 5S. Apple has actually refined the older design. For instance, the metal chamfers which embellish the outline of the phone, aren’t polished. Instead, they have a matte finish, which is likely to ensure that the phone ages in a more graceful way.The rear Apple logo is now made of metal and is also sure to last longer without scratches.advertisement The iPhone SE possibly sports that best iPhone design Apple has ever released. It looks great, feels fantastic in hands and in “rose gold” looks gorgeous With the iPhone SE, Apple has made an expensive smartphone which has impeccable fit and finish. It looks better and feels more polished than its peers, even the newer ones like the Xiaomi Mi 5. It also works well for people who want a smaller iPhone. Apple says that over 30 per cent of its iPhone users are still on 4-inch or smaller iPhones, which makes this a huge market. The iPhone SE very pocket friendly. While chunkier at 7.6mm than the iPhone 6S, it is considerably lighter than it at 113 grams. That’s just 1 gram heavier than the iPhone 5S and 30 grams lighter than the iPhone 6S.Also Read: Apple iPhone SE is like an old friend It is undeniable that Apple is using an older design, but by no means, it is a bad decision. The iPhone 5S design remains the best that Jony Ive’s team has come up with in the last 9 years and if Apple has decided to recycle it, that is understandable.DisplayThe iPhone SE sports a 4-inch screen that is similar to the one found in the iPhone 5S. The only difference is that now instead of JDI, LG is manufacturing the display. You get the same 1136 x 640 pixels with same 327 pixels per inch density.By modern standards, this isn’t an exceptional display. It is decent. It displays relatively accurate colours and is bright enough. But when compared to the iPhone 6S, the display is inferior. The iPhone 6S gets brighter and has better contrast levels. The bigger phone displays images in a more vivid way. It also comes without the 3D touch technology that Apple has added in the iPhone 6S.Now, what about the size? If you’re coming from a big screen, then typing on the smaller 4-inch screen will be problematic. The small screen feels too cramped and you will be relying too much on the virtual keyboard auto-correct.Also Read: 5 reasons to buy the iPhone SE That said, there are certain advantages to the smaller screen. On this phone you can reach any UI element with a single thumb, which makes using the phone easier, especially if you are travelling.Even iOS looks better on the smaller screen of the iPhone SE. It feels as if iOS was architected for a small screen from its inception and Apple really hasn’t done much to improve the experience for large screens.At the end of the day, if you’re the type of person who consumes a lot of content on the iPhone, then the small screen will get in the way. But if you don’t muck around much, and use the phone as a communication tool, then the iPhone SE will feel perfect.SoftwareThe iPhone SE runs iOS 9.3 out of the box. iOS has remained consistent for the last couple of years. It is best meant for people who are looking for a simple and consistent experience. People looking for more customisation may like Android more.advertisementThe iOS 9.3 adds a new feature that’s called Nightshift which warms up the colour temperature of the screen in the evening. Apple claims it will help your sleep cycle and will be easier on the eyes. During the usage, we found this to be mildly true.Also Read: How the iPhone SE compares with iPhone 6 and 5S But the story of iOS on the iPhone SE is more complex than a simple Apple vs Android. The iOS just works better on a smaller 4-inch screen. All the UI elements are placed in such a way that everything can be reached with one finger, which makes iOS just more efficient in use.PerformanceAccording to Apple, the iPhone SE is 50 per cent faster than its doppelganger the iPhone 5S. Reason? This performance boost comes from the A9 processor along with the M9 co-processor that power the phone. This is the same processor that you get in the iPhone 6S.This means, the iPhone SE is lighting quick – almost like Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari when he was dominating the Formula 1 circuit in the early 2000s. Everything is fast on the iPhone SE. Apps launch instantly, multitasking is seamless and the phone doesn’t get warm even while dealing with heavy-duty games like ShadowGun.The iPhone SE would be the best phone for gaming if it had a larger screen. It shows gorgeous graphics and provides smooth frame rates.Also Read: iPhone SE as your next phone? 5 reasons why you shouldn’t buy it Apple has increased the number of LTE bands the iPhone SE supports. It supports a total of 18 LTE bands, however, it does lack support for LTE-advanced but then again that’s not a deal breaker in India because the network operators don’t support that standard yet.It is also worth noting that the phone lacks Wi-Fi MiMO antennas which does affect the Wi-Fi performance of the device when the router is at a great distance from the phone. The iPhone 6S was able to open web pages and hold a stronger signal when the iPhone SE could not. The iPhone SE is lighting quick – almost like Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari when he was dominating the Formula 1 circuit in the early 2000s The single speaker in the iPhone SE is decent. The sound starts to crackle a bit with heavy duty music like dub-step or metal. It is clearly not in the league of HTC’s BoomSound equipped phones. But the output from the headphone is great, especially if you are playing songs in a loss-less format like ALAC although support for FLAC is missing in iOS.CameraWhile the rear camera on the iPhone SE is the same one as the iPhone 6S, it works better on the iPhone SE because of it is easier to frame images with the smaller phone. The 12-megapixel sensor on the back of the iPhone SE is considered one of the best ever put in a smartphone. It has technologies like deep trench isolation, focus pixels, and also a f/2.2 aperture along with a ‘truetone’ flash.advertisementBut the devil is in the details. The iPhone SE focuses at a blistering pace and take photos that look true to life. In day light, it takes fantastic photos which are balanced in terms of contrast, colours and white balance.While shooting close up photos, the iPhone does a good job at locking a tight focus on the subject and producing a defocused background. However, this is an area where the Samsung Galaxy S7 pulls ahead of the iPhone, thanks to its wider and brighter lens.Even in low-light conditions, the iPhone SE does a decent job. However, on many occasions, noise creeps into photos making them grainy. In low-light, again, the Galaxy S7 is considerably ahead of the iPhone SE, but that’s because it has bigger pixels, a wider aperture and optical image stabilisation.The iPhone SE excels at producing photos that look real. It has minimal post-processing on the images, unlike the Galaxy S7. Apple’s new phone also provides a simpler shooting experience.Also Read: Don’t buy Apple iPhone SE now, buy it after a month The iPhone SE is also the best iPhone to shoot panoramas from because of its compact size. In many cases, the SE is just better because it can be stabilised easily because of the compact nature of its size. The same converts well to 4K video or slo-mo video, but the iPhone 6S Plus which has optical stabilisation is better.Like the iPhone 6S, it supports live photos. By default, this feature is turned on and one has to pass and hold on a photo to enable motion.For selfies, however, the iPhone SE is a bit of a disappointment. It has an average 1.2-megapixel camera, which is okay for FaceTime or Skype calls but for selfies it is abhorrent for the price. However, the good news is that in low-light, it gets a retina flash like the iPhone 6S which is of great use in low-light. XPreviousNext Battery lifeThe iPhone SE has a 1,650mAh battery. Apple claims the battery life is 50 per cent better than the iPhone 5S, but that’s not a number worth considering since the battery life on the iPhone 5S was pathetic.The good news is that the battery life is slightly better than the iPhone 6S on 3G. The phone lasts around 10 hours with heavy usage. The iPhone 6S gives us around 8.5 hours through a work day when used only on 3G so this bodes well.Should you buy it?The iPhone SE is a new wine in an old, touched up bottle. It is a premium experience. However, if you’re using a larger phone, transitioning back to the smaller screen will be irksome. It is largely meant for people who have been using the iPhone 5S and don’t want a bigger phone.Overall, the iPhone SE is a great phone for people who want a small phone. For everyone, else there is the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6S. ####Apple iPhone SE####8/10########Good stuffImpeccable fit and finishGreat CameraGreat ergonomicsAs fast as iPhone 6S####Bad stuffAverage displayNo Wi-Fi MiMOUnderwhelming front cameralast_img read more