Apple iPhone SE, the Special Edition iPhone, is the younger sibling to the flagship iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. But does the smaller size work and is the iPhone SE as powerful as the company claims?
Compact Size: I wasn't a big fan of the design language of the bigger iPhone (6/6s/6Plus/6S Plus). The curved edges made it a part of the already crowded, similar looking smartphones. While the world is busy criticising Apple's decision of taking an easy road with the iPhone 5S chassis for the iPhone SE, I am elated about the design. Interestingly, when I showed the iPhone SE in Rose Gold to my colleagues and friends, many shared the same sentiment. Design apart, the biggest question here is the smaller 4-inch display, resulting in a smaller form factor. The iPhone SE is not just easy to hold, it easily slides into my pocket, too. With iPhone SE, I am back to single-hand operations, and my other hand is mostly free.
Smaller screen Real-estate: A week before I got my hands on the iPhone SE, I switched to the Mi 5 with a 5.1-inch display from the Asus ZenFone boasting a 5.5inch screen. This wasn't a big change and I was very much comfortable with the smaller, 5.1-inch screen, too. But moving to a 4-inch display was a big change. While I loved the compact size of the iPhone SE, the question here was - can I live with a smaller 4-inch screen? For the first couple of hours I struggled with almost everything - the smaller font size, typing and less information displayed on the screen. In just a few minutes, I got a hang of the smaller keyboard. While typing in English, whenever I ended up hitting 's' instead of 'a; or 'i' instead of 'o', auto correct came to my rescue. I had to be careful while tying in Hinglish as the autocorrect would completely pick up a different word. But within a day or two, things seemed better. Because of the smaller font size, my eyes would strain while browsing the web, but even this got sorted as my eyes got used to the compact size. After getting addicted to bigger 5.5-inch displays for over a couple of years, the 4-inch screen felt small while watching videos and playing games. But can one trade this over the convenience of using a compact device? I surely can, but many will not.
Uncompromised performance: Companies often compromise on the performance when it comes to the younger sibling of a flagship smartphone. While the SE (which stands for Special Edition) is a smaller device, it still packs in top-of-the-line specifications as on the iPhone 6S. It has the same 64-bit A9 chipset with M9 coprocessor and is fast as the iPhone 6S. The TouchID works quickly - be it for unlocking the iPhone or approving purchases from the App Store. Mutli-tab browsing was smooth. I played graphic rich games and there wasn't any lag. With plenty of apps installed on the device, iPhone SE didn't slow down even once. The hands-free "Hey Siri" feature onboard quickly responds to all my questions. But there are a few things that you don't get - the 3D Touch, lower screen resolution in comparison to the older siblings, and even the lower resolution selfie camera.
Shoots like a Pro: Apple has always added the best optics to the iPhone and the SE is also equipped with the 12-MP iSight camera with TrueTone flash. The results are amazing, with rich colours and detail in almost any kind of light. Apple has also added its Live Photos, which captures a three-second video while clicking a photo. For videos, the camera app has also got time-lapse video and slow motion video along with the regular 4k video capture. Honestly, iPhone SE has got one of the best cameras and the image quality speaks for itself. However, you get a low-resolution selfie camera, which captures decent images but nothing extraordinary.
Battery: The biggest challenge today is to have a phone that can last a day with heavy usage. Thanks to the smaller and low resolution display in comparison to the iPhone S6, the iPhone SE's battery lasts longer. A fully charged iPhone lasted me a full day with two push email accounts, constant access to social networking sites, calling, web browsing, imaging and constant connectivity to Apple watch or some other wearable gadget.
Pricing: While the iPhone SE has a price tag of $399 for 16 GB and $499 for 64 GB overseas, the Indian pricing at Rs 39,000 and Rs 49,000, respectively, is on the higher side, considering the iPhone 6S is retailing at around Rs 45,000 (price has gone up from Rs 40,000 since the iPhone SE launch). A slight price drop in a month's time will make it a great buy.
Bag it or Junk it: Compact size yet power packed. If you are comfortable with a smaller display, then the iPhone SE is for you.
Price: Rs 49,000 for 64 GB
Plus: Compact, Performance, Camera
Minus: Selfie Camera