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It’s here! The new low-cost iPhone we’ve been anticipating for a few weeks now just dropped via press release. It seems that despite the current pandemic, Apple had enough of a headstart on production to avoid major delays.
The all-new iPhone SE is named for 2015’s budget iPhone SE model, but it’s actually replacing iPhone 8 in Apple’s current lineup. Handy, because at first glance it looks identical to the iPhone 8 (and 7, and 6).
This is the device we think a lot of people will have been waiting for. Finally, a budget-friendly iPhone with top-of-the-line performance. It gets there by reusing parts and making compromises in inessential areas, and the result is a $399 iPhone with the same blazing-fast A13 Bionic chip as the $999 iPhone 11 Pro.
If you’re not sold on Face ID, if you’re not swayed by three cameras, if you think Apple’s recent iPhones are just a bit too big, or if you balk at spending a grand on a smartphone, this is the handset for you.
The second-generation iPhone SE uses the same popular design as iPhone 8, and so many of the specs are the same. Most notably, it keeps the familiar bezel and Home button – that means no Face ID, and no notch at the top of the 4.7-inch display. (That’s the smallest screen currently available in an iPhone, by the way).
Apple exec Phil Schiller: “iPhone SE features the industry-leading performance of A13 Bionic that enables great battery life, takes stunning Portrait mode and Smart HDR photos, shoots amazing videos with stereo audio, is great for games and super fast web surfing, and is built with the same industry-leading security features our customers expect. We can’t wait to get iPhone SE into customers’ hands.”
By far the most important upgrade is the inclusion of Apple’s latest processing chip. The technology has come a long way since the A11 Bionic that powered the iPhone 8, and its inclusion along with a third-generation Neural Engine allows for advanced computational photography upgrades to the camera systems. That means iPhone SE gets modern features like Portrait mode – including Depth Control and Portrait Lighting – and Smart HDR for improved lighting. There’s even Portrait mode on the front camera now!
In all other regards, it’s best to be clear that this is essentially an iPhone 8. Same screen size, same battery life, same waterproof-ness. Nothing here is new, but it’s amazing to see such a capable package starting at just $399 (£419 in the UK) for the 64GB variant. That’s less than iPhone 8 cost just a day ago, and will last much longer thanks to its newer chip. iPhone SE isn’t going to forge new ground, but it just became the smartphone we’re most likely to recommend to friends and family.
If you don’t live on the cutting edge of tech, iPhone SE is a fantastic choice. It’s available to pre-order from 5am PDT this Friday, April 17, ahead of its full launch a week later on April 24. For more information, or to pre-order, visit Apple’s online store.