Ars Technica reviews Apple’s iPhone SE: An apology to big-phone haters everywhere

“The thing about the iPhone SE is that there’s basically nothing that’s new about it. It’s a four-year-old phone design filled with six-month-old parts, and it’s the rare product that amounts to exactly the sum of its parts,” Andrew Cunningham writes for Ars Technica. “So we’ll spend a little time with the tech inside, but this review is going to focus primarily on the Big Questions: Who should buy this? Why should they buy it? Who shouldn’t buy it? And where does it fit into Apple’s Grand Plan for the iPhone?”

“In a lot of ways the SE is just a drop-in replacement for the iPhone 5S in Apple’s lineup, an ‘entry-level’ iPhone that doesn’t quite offer all the features of the flagship versions but updates the specs enough to keep up with iOS’ continued development and various Apple services like Apple Pay,” Cunningham writes. “But it’s the first time that bottom spot in the iPhone lineup has ever been occupied by something that wasn’t two to three years old, which changes the value proposition significantly.”

“It’s not going to draw a ton of customers from the 6S or 6S Plus, really. Those bigger screens sell themselves and are worth putting up with some of the larger phones’ more annoying design elements. However, the SE is a big deal for people buying their first iPhone or people who just want the cheapest possible route into the iOS ecosystem. $399 ($499, really, since you should avoid the 16GB model in most cases) for a brand-new iPhone with flagship-level specs and a high-end phone camera is hard to ignore,” Cunningham writes. “The flagships are likely to remain larger, and they’re likely to get new features faster (I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the 4-inch iPhone only got a refresh once every two years or so), but the SE at least makes it so that people who prefer small phones don’t need to time travel back to 2013 to get a decent one.”

Tons more in the full review here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s iPhone SE is going to be a very big draw in the BRICS economies.

iPhone SE event led to website traffic spike in China and India – April 5, 2016
Daring Fireball’s Gruber reviews iPhone SE: ‘Feels the best in hand’ – April 1, 2016
Macworld reviews iPhone SE: ‘It’s a pocket-size powerhouse’ – March 31, 2016
TIME reviews Apple’s iPhone SE: ‘The perfect smaller smartphone’ – March 30, 2016
Mossberg: Understanding Apple’s iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro – March 30, 2016
Wired reviews Apple’s iPhone SE: You’ll use it differently – March 29, 2016
USA Today’s Baig: Apple’s iPhone SE is like a cute, adorable baby – March 24, 2016
The Daily Mail reviews Apple’s iPhone SE: The ‘perfect first time iPhone’ – March 24, 2016
WSJ reviews Apple’s iPhone SE: ‘Smaller gets smarter with better battery life to boot’ – March 24, 2016
Apple tries to stimulate growth with the powerful 4‑inch iPhone SE – March 23, 2016
Why the tiny 4-inch iPhone SE will be a gigantic hit for Apple – March 22, 2016
Apple just put a Mac mini in your pocket (with keyboard and screen) – March 22, 2016
Apple’s got millions of reasons to make the smaller iPhone SE – March 22, 2016
The new iPhone SE finally makes a small phone feel powerful – March 21, 2016
Apple unveils iPhone SE, the most powerful phone with a four-inch display – March 21, 2016


  1. Size … is, in a word, precisely the reason why my wife didn’t upgrade her iPhone when I did on our last hardware cycle.

    (I’m now on a 6s – – she kept her 5).

  2. I swear, some people just don’t get it.

    It is the phone’s SIZE that matters. DOH!

    The same way some people/situation just have to have a large screen, there are others who just have to have a small phone. Sure, we’d all like to have a 27 inch iMac screen when doing work on our iPhones, but that screen would pose problems. Right?

    I would push the SIZE issue even further by suggesting APPLE look into an even smaller model — plus, add the capability to quickly transfer the number and control to another larger phone when needed. That way APPLE could sell me two, maybe three iPhones, not just one.

    Design a 3 inch iPhone, as well as a 4″, etc. Then add in the capability through SETTINGS to switch the phone number from my 3″ iPhone to the 5.5″ phone when traveling. The 3″ is perfect for the office or when in the field, but the larger iPhone is what I want when I’m traveling to another city. Each situation calls for a different SIZE. Now, give me the opportunity to buy more than one size by giving me the capability to switch/share my phone number among the multiple-size iPhones I would buy for different situations.

    I assure you, a 3″ iPhone would sell, as would more 5.5″ iPhones once users could share a single number among the phones. No one has only one pair of shoes. One suit. One car. One…whatever. There is no reasons we should be limited to one iPhone. ( know there are technical issues regarding phone ID, and so on, but those limits should soon be a thing of the past.)

    1. My comments are directed at the Ars Technica reviewer and others like him who can’t imagine anyone not wanting or needing the 5.5″ iPhone they have in their hand.

    2. It’s hard to understand how difficult this is for some people to understand!

      I bought the SE to replace my 6. I bought it BECAUSE of the size. It didn’t save me money, it cost me money. I didn’t do it because of the bumped specs, if I wanted those I’d have bought the 6S. I would have liked the 3D Touch and perhaps a couple of other bits but they weren’t yet that important. The size is and I absolutely love it.

      It is not for everyone, and if you prefer the bigger screen then naturally, the 6S/Plus is better. But, likewise, some will find it a better fit and buy it as a choice.

      I cannot imagine the 7 will bring anything I would find worth the size increase and expect to stay with SE for a while. Probably until the SE 2.

  3. Well… In my humble opinion the plan to flood Indian and Asian Market won’t go up.

    In these markets what matters the most is the status symbol and as stupid as it sounds… The bigger the better.

    But where this phone could finds its place is in the US and in Europe. Not so few people there kept their old 3~4 years old iPhone because of the small form factor (To start with my wife).

    I’m not so much into Apple products (You certainly have noticed it in other posts) but this iPhone is certainly the most interesting one since quite some. It fills a quite big niche of powerful hardware for a small form factor. This has a lot of potential.

  4. I went from a 6S to an SE and could not be happier. Because of my Apple Watch the phone stays in my pocket virtually all the time, I’m nearsighted so don’t need the larger screen, and the smaller size just works better one-handed. So nice to have the smaller form factor without any major compromises in specs. I hope they do periodically update the 4″ phone model like this so I’m not forced back to a larger phone for the specs/features over time!

    1. There you go. You hit on it. You have the AppleWatch. The is extra screen landscape. If the iPad Pro line kicks in hard, then people will not need a big phone. The information on their watch will them what they need to reach for next. If the phone call is personal then you may stick to the small phone for Face Time. If it is business you may skip the phone and reach for a IPad Pro or MacBook so that you can share information from documents and such. The watch will be a personal switch board.

  5. Does this article people influencer/writer even think?? The iPhone SE is brilliant! Apple has been full production on the outer shell. Apple has been full production on the inner 6s guts. Apple needs a mid year upgrade that doesn’t affect or cannibalize the iPhone 7.
    The iPhone SE does have something the iPhone 6/6plus doesn’t have…the latest antennas for the faster LTE speeds.
    It costs Apple virtually nothing to make the iPhone SE and they will sell millions of them! To the article people influencer/writer…DOH!
    This is yet another example of Apple’s thriftiness and yet another example of Apple getting yet even more ducks in a row for longevity and sustenance. They are so envied by other companies for their organization and cost effectiveness.
    This is Cook’s area of ability…not sure about his innovativeness or vision, but we’ll see soon enough!

  6. Yes, this Ars Technica review is way off the mark, the guy just doesn’t get it. There are a lot of people who prefer the smaller phone, it does have real advantages. How about this: a Garmin GPS can easily set you back $400, with the higher end ones going for $600+. Instead of a Garmin, just get a smaller iPhone for its GPS capabilities and you get a much more capable device.

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