A few days ahead of its 40th birthday, rumours abounded about what Apple would unveil in its highly anticipated event. When the actual event came, the social media buzzed again.
At the centre of it all was the new iPhone SE. Having joined the five-inch-plus brigade rather late with the iPhone 6 in September 2014, Apple had evidently re-discovered virtue in small, both in form at 4 inches, and price.
An initial hiccup resulted in the price for India being wrongly announced as Rs 30,000, corrected a few hours later to Rs 39,000, which set off another howl on the social media. But this story is about the handset itself, not about perceptions.
THE 4” SCREEN
Samsung and sundry android devices have made 5”-plus screens the rage, and you can even see people hold up tablets to take photos, but there is no denying that a 4” phone is the perfect to hold, as well as easy to pocket, even in your jeans, without needing to take it out when you sit. The block design also ensures a firmer grip. The screen may seem tiny, but remember, till a couple of years ago, this was the size that was working so well!
The iPhone SE sports the same 12 MP camera that does duty on the 6s. It has a true tone flash, takes vivid pictures (surely you’ve seen advertisements that proclaim: image taken on iPhone 6s), it is sharp, it’s fast and it just works. The camera, software and hardware integration also bring Live Photos to the SE, and it can even shoot and edit 4K video.
The selfie camera is unchanged at 1.2MP. Like the iPhone 6s, the SE also has the retina flash for the selfie camera. Also on offer are the auto image stabilisation and the time-lapse video.
The SE has the A9 processor from the 6s, which is fiercely fast. Faster app launch, faster wireless performance, faster page and video rendering… everything is almost real-time. This comes in handy when you are playing video games or editing photos and videos on the phone itself. If you think video editing on phone is not your cup of tea, just try it on this handset. You’re
sure to change your mind. Embedded in the A9 is the Motion CoProcessor, M9 that measures the number of steps you have walked or stairs you climbed. The phone is supposed to let you answer calls automatically on speakerphone when you are driving, though we have not tested this yet.
A smaller phone naturally means a smaller battery. But in our tests of 8 hours of heavy use, playing music, shooting pictures, the SE performed slightly better than the iPhone 6s. We hit 10% on the iPhone 6S by end of day, but the SE still had 17% of juice left.
WHAT IS NEW, AND WHAT IS NOT
The shape, size, button layout are all essentially the iPhone 5s. It is easy to mistake the SE for the older phone, till you start using the phone.
Another differentiator is the Truetone flash. Though Apple Pay is yet to come to India, its presence on the SE is welcome. What the SE does not get from the flagship iPhone 6S is the 3D touch. It also does not get the protruding camera lens of the 6s.
SHOULD YOU BUY?
A brand new iPhone 5s is trading at about Rs 21,500 for the 16 GB variant. The equivalent 6 costs about Rs 36,200. So at Rs 39,900, the iPhone SE may seem a bit over-priced. But if you don’t want to compromise on specs or performance, and are upgrading from the iPhone 5 or even the 4s, the SE makes a great choice.