Introduction


This has to be one of the more peculiar reviews I've ever been tasked with. A past iPhone 5 and 5s user, I have long forgotten what it is to hold and work with a smartphone of such caliber. Since those two, whom Apple's new iPhone SE resembles thoroughly, I've only had the pleasure (and sometimes – displeasure) of using much bigger devices; like the iPhone 6, for example, or the One M9, or the Galaxy S6... and you know what? I think I got perfectly used to the big screen format. Most devices above 5 inches do feel rather clunky to me, but if we draw the line at around 5", I think most handsets in the category come off as relatively easy to handle.

So does the world still need a phone with a 4" screen, be it with the latest top-of-the-line tech? Have our hands permanently adjusted to working with big handsets? Does the extra portability of the iPhone SE make a meaningful difference for the 2016 consumer? And, perhaps more importantly, is the 4" form-factor still adequate enough to get the job done well enough in this day and age, for productivity, gaming, general usage, and more? Do browsing the web, or checking a Facebook feed, or typing out a message feel constrained on this seemingly old-age 4" screen? These are all hard questions the iPhone SE will have to answer if we're to believe in its adequacy. Let's see what it has to say!

The package contains:

  • Apple iPhone SE
  • Wall charger
  • Lightning cable
  • EarPods earphones
  • SIM ejector
  • Quick start guide
  • Apple decals

Design

Blast from the past: the iPhone SE resurrects a design many thought superior to iPhone 6, but is it really so?

You can imagine the tension in the air that was accommodated by the moment when I first took the iPhone SE out of its box and carefully enveloped its seemingly delicate body with my fingers. My first thought was: wow, this is a nice phone! A looker! My second thought was: oh boy, that sharp edge is cutting right into my fingers.

The Apple iPhone SE may be very compact and all, but its boxy shape with sharp edges sure isn't very ergonomic. It looks good, but doesn't feel good, which is equally important. Using a case is a way to work around this problem, but it isn't quite the ideal solution. I think if Apple had actually used a scaled-down version of the iPhone 6 design, it would have made for a much more comfortable handset, not to mention – much fresher.

Aside from that, the iPhone SE is very well built – the metal body, ornamented by the contrasting glass pieces on the back, is a sight to behold, while the buttons for volume and home, as well as the mute switch, all click nicely and reassuringly.

When it comes to the dimensions themselves: yes, the SE is extremely compact and light by today's standards. It's very refreshing to once again use such a small device – a considerably more effortless experience compared to the 'full-size' slates of today. It's also not tiny to the point of looking weird or inadequate in the hands. However, the SE definitely isn't looking to balance body size and screen diagonal – the significant bezels around the screen, and especially the final look when you put a case on, do make the iPhone SE appear somewhat old-school. It would have been a nice gesture from Apple if it had taken the time to renew the design of the munchkin to make it look more modern.



Apple iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE

Dimensions

4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches

123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm

Weight

3.99 oz (113 g)

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Dimensions

5 x 2.56 x 0.35 inches

127 x 65 x 8.9 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Apple iPhone 6s

Apple iPhone 6s

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Apple iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE

Dimensions

4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches

123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm

Weight

3.99 oz (113 g)

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Dimensions

5 x 2.56 x 0.35 inches

127 x 65 x 8.9 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Apple iPhone 6s

Apple iPhone 6s

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Display

A very high-quality display, the 4” panel of the iPhone SE is a great treat for LCD lovers.

The 4” IPS LCD screen of the iPhone SE is terrific. Its resolution comes in at 640 x 1136 pixels, which delivers a pleasing pixel density of 326 ppi. Reading text and discerning fine details on the screen doesn't make you squint or focus more than usual, because iOS scales correctly to display items with adequate size. As a matter of fact, most elements of the user interface have the same dimensions as on the iPhone 6's 4.7” screen. Of course, this means you'll be seeing less content on the SE, but it's a fair trade-off.

Brightness with the iPhone SE can be cranked up all the way to 600 nits, which is a superb output, allowing the screen to be used with relative comfort even when it's sunny. Minimum brightness sits at 6 nits, which translates to decent viewing comfort in the dark, but it could have been better.

Images, video and other content looks great on the iPhone SE, because color balance is great. Color temperature is a tad cold at 7000 K (slightly dominant blue color), but overall, colors are very accurate and true to life, while the display's gamma is spot on, producing a deep, dynamic look that's also natural. There's just the right amount of contrast and vividness.

Whether or not 4 inches are big enough, or too small, depends on what you're going to be using them for, so it'll be in the next chapters where I'll explore the display's efficiency.

Unfortunately, there's no 3D Touch here, which probably isn't such a big deal at this point. The fact you can reach all corners of the screen with a single thumb easily offsets the loss.



FEATURED VIDEO

176 Comments

1. jeroome86

Posts: 2314; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

Didn't get a 9? Well, should make the Android guys happy. Not iphonearena after all.

4. antmiu2

Posts: 551; Member since: Jun 19, 2011

well they gave the S7 a 9 so thats why

8. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

i6s get 9.3

71. Mxyzptlk unregistered

I would have given the S7 a lower score.

150. darkkjedii

Posts: 31658; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Why though? I played with it (the edge) at Best Buy, and in every way, it was awesome.

159. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Not surprising, he's known here as a blind Samsung hater right? He's becoming exactly like those he hate (blind Apple haters), just on a different side.

165. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Not just Samsung, every Android, BlackBerry and Windows phone or tablet. Apple is his whole universe!!!

173. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Just seems like a "so what?" release to me. I kind of lost any interest in Samsung after the note 4.

166. sgodsell

Posts: 7605; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Of course you Mxyzptlk you would give the S7 a lower score, because you only own, use and preach Apple. Also this review is clearly a paid review, especially when the display is the most important feature on any smartphone. I found it actually funny when Ray was mentioning how reading text was fine and you don't have to squint. Oh, but he forgets to mention how users have to do a hell of a lot more scrolling around on that tiny NON HD display. The SE shouldn't even receive a score of 7, especially in this day and age, and at Apples pricing.

174. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Waaah Waaah Waaah is the only thing I get from your comment.

9. tyrionTheWise unregistered

And how does it relate? This phone isn't even close to a 6 month old phone(6S) and you're comparing it to arguably the best phone on the market.

19. Creep

Posts: 193; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

@TyrionTheWise 1. Are you stupid as hell or something? This phone can honestly keep up with the best phones are the market. It may not be as feature packed, but when it comes to performance, it easily bests the S7. 2. You are clearly not wise. Change that username. You're nothing but a biased Fandroid.

26. AllFanboysMatter

Posts: 206; Member since: Feb 14, 2016

Ignore tyrionTheWise....he's just another annoying Android Fanboy who comes to talk BS on all Apple articles. android fanboys are super mad that a 4 inch iPhone LITERALLY BEATS all the best android phones out in terms of performance. So let them bring up the following -how the resolution is too low (even though its resolution is perfect given a 4 inch screen) -how iOS is easy to run compared to Android (dumbest point ever, since iOS should be pentalized for being more efficient) FAndroids on phonearena are easily some of the dumbest people on the web.

29. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

All fanboys are equally dumb, if you think only the fandroids are dumb, then you are also dumb.

39. AllFanboysMatter

Posts: 206; Member since: Feb 14, 2016

"All fanboys are equally dumb" No, and this is an incredibly dumb statement. Some "fanboys" are just huge fans of a particular brand, but don't feel the need to constantly bash other brands. It's great having fanboys that provide balanced opinions.

52. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Depends on what you mean by the word fanboy. Those people you described, I just simply call them fans. By fanboys I mean diehard fans that bash the competition or the fans of the competition

93. MSi_GS70 unregistered

@All fanboy You are such icrap iphoneboy .. go and shag that iphone ..same edition :D

41. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Well the design suck ( others handset got hit hard in the score thanks to this ) should been same design as the iphone 6/6S but smaller. A tad bigger screen 4.3 with 720p would been welcome. Mad thats a limited phone with limited features and outdated design is faster? Faster at what? end result is all high end phone open apps as fast ( maybe a nano second faster for some lol ) No game or app on ios or android market can even use my old Z1 full power. So yeah you should look at yourself when you say ppl are dumb i gave pretty good reason here and nothing empty minded like you said.

51. LebronJamesFanboy

Posts: 671; Member since: Mar 23, 2013

Marorun, the design does not suck. While I'm not a huge Apple fan, it was one of their best designs.

111. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

well most iphone user thats dont take it say its because of the design so for me its suck but you have right to have different taste.

95. MSi_GS70 unregistered

exactly why didn't make iphone 6 design for se ?

148. Feanor

Posts: 1421; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Seriously? And how do you explain that my Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is the most bug-free phone I ever used, whereas my iOS 9.3 running iPhone 5c is the most bug-infested phone I ever used? Bugs on my 5c since I got it; terrible battery drain with iOS 7, hung up button not working with iOS 8 and 9.3, call forwarding not working with iOS 9.2. Plus the most terrible, blue border discoloration around the screen. Bugs on my Xperia? Just a bug by full expanding notifications from the notification bar, which was fixed now with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Now, I haven't bumped onto any bugs at all. I also never had any of the bugs mentioned on a previous Phonearena article about how buggy the Z5 is, and also I don't have any problems with Google Play as reported by others. Never ever again an iPhone.

176. GreenZone

Posts: 146; Member since: Mar 04, 2014

Z5? Buggy? No! It's a trash, sucks from A to Z. A f*ck up phone, sold it already and move on

82. maherk

Posts: 7029; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

It's kinda fishy how your furious and childish comments gets upvoted almost immediately, and by a dozen. What's more fishy, is that I ve seen the exact same comments on this thread, by you, and other accounts that are only few days old. I am pretty sure the majority of us knows by now who you are, Mr. Phanboy. On another note, the SE costs $400 only in the US, here in Lebanon it starts for $500 for the 16GB variant, which is only less than $50 for the iPhone 6, $20 than the Note 5, and more byb $40 than the Z5.

98. MSi_GS70 unregistered

he has 20 accounts :)

158. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

SamsungPhanboy got banned and now he is going full retard with his other accounts, lmao.

91. MSi_GS70 unregistered

@ Creep You giving me creep change that sht nick .. Btw when it comes to POINTLESS and USELESS performance .. Yet NOBODY's gonna use ''THAT'' performance on such little crappy screen... You keep performance in Laptops not in smartphones.. Smartphones stopping slowly with stupidly increasing performance,where battery is crushing more and more.. The decent performance is enough ..

112. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Low end android with much lower speed hardware are still butter smooth and can run any app whitout lag.. so overkill performance is not needed anymore.

164. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

I'm agree with this not a haters to iPhone, but i'll go with iPhone 6 instead this tiny phone. Performance wise i think 6 is fast enough and it's compact for most people. With larger 4.6" you can enjoy your multimedia content & browsing is clearly more enjoyable.

105. westicktogether

Posts: 50; Member since: Mar 15, 2016

ROFLMAO!!!!!!!! You just owned all these stupid android fans

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

iPhone SE
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A9 APL0898, Dual-core, 1840 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 1624 mAh(14h 3G talk time)

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