Call quality

Apple iPhone SE Review
The earpiece of the iPhone SE outputs decent loudness, I'll give it that, but as with all other phones, the actual sound quality when doing calls varies wildly. I had conversations where callers sounded as if they are in the same room... OK, maybe as if they were in the next room; and I had conversations where I could barely hear anything. So it's mostly a combination of network quality, coverage, congestion, etc. – for both you and your caller. If the earpiece can sound good in some conversations, which it does, then it's safe to say the hardware itself is good enough.

The same goes for the way the microphone picks up your voice – Apple typically includes quality mics and components in its iPhones, and the SE isn't an exception. The microphone works great – you can use it to record high-quality sound with little noise and strong volume. Whether or not your callers will hear you well is going to depend on a lot of factors, but the prerequisites for a good experience are there.

Battery life

Apple iPhone SE Review
iPhones have never exactly been battery champions, but they aren't the worst performers either. One can typically expect about a normal day and a half of not too intensive usage. The iPhone SE increases the iPhone 5s battery capacity from 1560 mAh to 1624 mAh, leading us to hope for slightly better battery life than usual.

My experience with the iPhone SE left me pretty much indifferent to any possible changes to the battery life, seeing that I observed pretty much the same results I've always had with iPhones. If the SE does have better battery life, I'd say the difference is negligible. If you're using the phone really heavily, with features such as GPS or 3G/4G video streaming, you shouldn't expect it to last more than a day.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Apple iPhone SE 7h 41 min (Good)
Apple iPhone 5s 5h 2 min (Poor)
Apple iPhone 6s 8h 15 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy S7 6h 37 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Apple iPhone SE 155
Apple iPhone 6s 150
Samsung Galaxy S7 88


One of the most unique things about the Apple iPhone SE is that it's in a class of its own: there is no other phone of such size that's even remotely as powerful. It's the only high-end mini phone you can find on the market, safe for the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact. So why is that? Is it because people no longer want small phones, or is it because people who fancy small phones today usually don't need them to be fast and powerful?

Apple iPhone SE Review
I think there's definitely place on the market for high-end small phones. I don't know if this place is necessarily for 4” ones, but after returning to the smaller form-factor, I can say there's something valuable in how easy it is to work with a smartphone of such caliber, without sacrificing much of the handheld power we've gotten used to over the last few years.

But aside from the fact that the $399 price tag makes the iPhone SE a great entry point to Apple's premium ecosystem, and that it's expected to sell well in developing markets, do I feel tempted to replace my 'full-size' iPhone 6 with the more powerful and smaller iPhone SE?

The combination of the old and not so ergonomic design, along with the smallish screen and thicker profile make the iPhone SE seem dated next to the iPhone 6/6s. Considering what it could have been, it almost feels like Apple's intentionally restricting the appeal of the SE. Yes, keeping the old design means the piles of cases and accessories iPhone 5/5s users have accumulated over the years will still be compatible, but I think a sleeker, newer design would have made everyone happier.

That said, the iPhone SE is still a great phone, with excellent performance and reliability across the board. If you absolutely can't stand the bigger iPhones, then sure, there are few reasons not to get the SE; but if you find yourself mostly attracted by its more affordable price tag, I'd recommend that you go for the older but sleeker iPhone 6, or look at refurbished options for iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s. The Android-based Xperia Z5 Compact, which is the only other high-end mini smartphone on the market right now, is nowhere near as refined as the iPhone SE. Here's to hoping the advent of the SE will convince other smartphone makers to also return to this lovely, but largely neglected niche.

A warm thanks goes to our friends over at Mobile Fun for providing us with a review unit!

Software version of the reviewed unit: iOS 9.3.1


  • Super compact and light
  • Glamorous screen
  • Top-shelf performance
  • Intuitive, efficient and reliable software experience
  • Comes with best-in-class earphones


  • Old design is old and not ergonomic
  • Loudspeaker is not deep enough
  • Base model has only 16 GB memory

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

7 Reviews



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: 550; 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: 30786; 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: 6732; 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: 1292; 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: 6680; 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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