iPhone SE vs. iPhone 6S review: Customer win, Apple fail

A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. – Steve Jobs

“It could be argued Apple’s entire business model for success has been founded upon these famous words,” Gordon Kelly writes for Forbes. “But times change. With the iPhone SE Apple has finally built the device its customers demanded rather than what the company itself wanted. The problem with this strategy is it may ultimately do Apple more harm than good and reviewing the iPhone SE in comparison to the iPhone 6S gives a perfect illustration of why.”

“One look at the iPhone SE tells you everything you need to know about Apple’s attitude towards making this handset: they didn’t want to. As the world’s most famous design company you don’t release a new product in a three year old chassis if you’re passionate about it. You do it when your hand is being forced and you need something simple, tried, tested and cheap,” Kelly writes. “But here’s where the problem comes in for Apple: in making customers revisit this ageing chassis there’s a moment of revelation because you’ll realise it’s better than the new one!”

“When you use the iPhone SE, you start forgetting 3D Touch exists. Apple’s highest profile innovation in its top of the range phones begins to feel like an unnecessary party trick and makes me feel less optimistic about its potential than I did before I was sent ‘back to the future,'” Kelly writes. “My personal feeling? For its long term benefit Apple should’ve crowbarred 3D Touch into the iPhone SE, even if it reduced the profit margin.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Both are valid points made previously right here.

Not having 3D Touch across the board on iPhones and iPads will retard the possibilities offered by the UI addition – an input method that will become an important, integral function someday – when the hardware is finally all in place. Until then, developers won’t dedicate full resources to fully explore a partially rolled-out feature.MacDailyNews Take, December 15, 2015

Since the rumors began regarding this outlier 4-inch iPhone, we’ve wondered how can Apple introduce this [iPhone SE] without 3D Touch, but with Live Photos? Imagine the uproar from millions of iPhone 6/Plus owners over that! If this “iPhone 5se” and its 3D Touchless Live Photos feature is true, we’d expect Apple to enable it on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with a software update unless they’ve totally lost the plot. Still, that leaves them open to the obvious claim that they withheld Live Photos until after Christmas in order to move as many 6s/Plus units as possible. Customers in general do not like to be toyed with, especially so obviously.MacDailyNews Take, January 28, 2016

If you use an iPhone 6/6s or 6 Plus/6s Plus and still have an older 4-inch iPhone 5 or 5S stuck in a drawer, pull it out. It just feels great, doesn’t it? The design and build quality are exquisite. It’s like a piece of fine jewelry. The slippery iPhone 6/s series just cannot compare.MacDailyNews Take, April 1, 2016


  1. Yawn. I seem to remember when we got leaks of the 5 the design was roundly hated and many referred to it as just a ‘stretched 4S’. Now it’s an exquisite jewel and the 6 is a slippery piece of garbage? BS. Does this Gordon Kelly not get that to sell the SE at $399 there were probably some things the needed to be left out for cost reasons? Also adding a Taptic Engine to that form factor would have probably resulted in a smaller battery and worse battery life. A trade-off Apple wasn’t willing to make. And let’s not forget the iPad Air launched AFTER the 5S but didn’t include Touch ID. And for all we know there may be engineering challenges getting Touch ID to work on larger displays so that may be why iPad doesn’t have it yet.

    Quit publishing garbage from Forbes.

    1. “Touch ID to work on larger displays so that may be why iPad doesn’t have it yet”

      On’t you mean Force Touch? TouchID is in the home button, which is not connected to the screen, so is no problem. Producing large, 7″, 10″ and 13″ Force Touch panels, however, in quantity, might just be outside current manufacturing capabilities.

  2. What people don’t realize is that the iPhone SE is an interim, special addition to re-test the 4″ market after jumping into the big, bigger, biggest market of phablets. Now that Apple is seeing that a third of the market is buying into the 4″ size, with another third for the mid-size, and less than a third for the double-whopper, they will see the advantage of 3 sizes and might just make 3 sizes of iPhone 7 (my prediction), once they get all the features shrunk down, in quantity. Rename the phones iPhone, iPhone plus, iPhone Pro (with  pencil support).

    1. A lot of people also don’t realize that the SE is also old recycled iPhones. Apple showed off Liam before unveiling the SE. I think it’s a smart move.

    2. It would have to be in the 8, or next spring. No way they’ll re-rev after six months. Customer bad will, 3rd party accessory maker and retailers of same alienation (‘cos they’d take a hit), etc., etc.

      I also feel it’s likely the little guy may be on a two year cycle anyway to keep staying at the price point by absorbing tech whose “production experience” has already been amortized.

  3. Apple needs to give customers what they want such as:
    1) Longer battery life
    2) Wireless charging
    3) Lane guidance and bicycling directions in maps.
    4) 32GB storage in the base model
    5) Message waiting indicator light
    6) Move the camera away from the corner of the device so that it isn’t so easy to accidentally photograph the user’s fingertip.
    7) Audio equalizer app that can be used to adjust the base, treble and midrange of any streaming music app.

    1. While you certainly put together a comprehensive list of “wants”, one stands out as completely ludicrous:

      “5) Message waiting indicator light”

      Bryan, the 90’s called and they want to sell you THEIR phone.

      1. tpaKyle,

        I mentioned the message waiting indicator light because many people, myself included, would like to have a light on the phone that we could configure to blink for certain types of notifications. That way, with a glance, we can tell if there is a voice mail or any other configurable notification waiting, without having to physically pick up the phone and press a button. What is so 90’s about a touchless notification?

    2. (4) Pretend the 16GB model doesn’t exist and just buy the 32GB model. Problem solved.

      Oh, I get it, you want them to reduce the price of the 32GB model. Why not ask for a BOGO while you’re at it?

      1. Seriously, C++? Are you serious? Where on planet earth is there an iPhone 6S, 6S+ or SE for sale that has 32 GB of storage? There is no such thing.

        Furthermore, do you think that it would cost Apple more than $5 to increase the amount of storage in a base model iPhone from 16GB to 32GB?

  4. Gordon Kelly is a dolt. A company doesn’t leave money on the table when it’s sitting right in front of them. Now Apple’s lowest-end model (better than their flagship two years ago), is affordable to a larger market. If the author knew business he’d be running one, not writing about it.

  5. Apple will reset everything this fall.

    The iPhone 7 line will come in 3 different size. Same look, basics fonctionnality for all. Some extra for the middle one, some more for the bigger one.

    Everybody will be happy. The SE will have been an Asian thing and a sub phone for those aging 5 series… With a great resell value… And fresh specs!

    You heard it first on MDN!

    1. The SE isn’t numbered because they don’t expect to release a new one every year. It’ll probably be like every two or three years.

      The larger phone will continue to get yearly advances. The next SE will just roll up the most important features and the name will stay SE… In two years or so.

  6. I’ve been saying for years as phones got bigger, that it’s time for smaller. I truly believe a super small, yet powerful iPhone could rock the world. Smaller and thinner than the iPhone 4. I think that would be a great move.

    1. Smaller? 3 sizes? Each approximately 3.5″, 4.5″, & 5.5″? Each without the home button, but with touchID activation in the touchscreen? Could be interesting.

  7. Force touch is cool, but I have not really found it to be a must have feature. Sometimes it can be downright frustrating, I have not found it to be really, really useful. Sometimes its just faster to click the icon the old way.

    1. I have found little reason to use Force Touch. It’s nice to have, but I do not find myself invoking it in my daily tasks. I use double tap a lot to switch between apps. Like you said, FT tends to get in the way, especially in Safari.

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