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What matters most when buying a phone is that it will last

Apple wasn’t fooling anyone at its recent event when it called the new iPhone SE’s design “iconic.” On the outside, it’s an iPhone 8. That phone was released back in 2017, before ‘all screen’ form factors took hold – and, honestly, it wasn’t the best iPhone design at that time. Compared to Android devices at the SE’s price-point of $429/£419 – which is mid-range rather than low-end on that platform – there are far better words to describe the latest iPhone’s aesthetic: dated; dull; old.

But the SE has never been about bling. It’s always been an unashamedly old-fashioned phone on the outside. Fortunately, what’s on the inside has typically been something else entirely. With this latest revision, you get an A15 chip. If that means nothing to you, it’s the same one you’ll find in Apple’s iPhone 13 range, which debuted six months ago. So Apple’s cheapest iPhone now includes its most powerful chip – one that still runs rings around the competition at any price point.

What does this mean? Important things. For one, an A15 lets you run all of the latest apps and games, without any problems, and – in most cases – with plenty of headroom. The SE’s relatively low-res display compared to newer iPhones won’t challenge the A15, meaning the device should be snappy and responsive in use – something you don’t always see on mid-rage Android handsets.

The A15’s computational clout also boosts what would be an improved but otherwise fairly ordinary camera set-up on the new SE, helping it punch above its weight. It only has a single camera – so no macro or ultra-wide shots – but Apple’s preview images suggest the new SE has great range. It also supports Portrait Mode and Photographic Styles, along with Live Text so you can quickly grab and work with words from the world around you.

Digging into the details further affirms Apple has – mostly – created a phone with specs that really matter. The new SE has 5G for faster cellular connectivity, a better battery, and improved durability. In a barb to Android, Apple stated at the event that it would receive the latest updates for “many years to come.”

 

The iPhone 6s, from back in 2015, is still getting updates. So it’s feasible an iPhone SE bought today will get full operating system updates until 2028 – something vanishingly few Android handsets will match. In short, this iPhone might look boring but the A15 inside means people can buy one and reasonably expect it to last a very long time, despite it being an entry-level model.

It’s possible some of the SE’s more aging tech might prove popular too. When the SE was revealed, some people expressed relief that at least one iPhone still had Touch ID. That said, it does feel like this is the last hurrah for this iPhone form factor. Surely, if the SE remains in the line-up, Apple will next base it on the iPhone 11 or iPhone mini?

Although, who knows? Perhaps when 2024 arrives, Apple will instead release a fourth-generation iPhone SE with an A17 inside – but rocking a design that’s determined to stick around for a full decade.

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