A Week with the iPhone SE: The Yearning for the Four Inches

iPhone SE space gray

The latest jewel in Apple's crown, the iPhone SE, It has been on sale for just over a week in the United States and, at iPhone Actuality, we have been testing it thoroughly during all this time, to provide you an in-depth analysis of our experience with the "old format".

We knew, in advance, that iPhone SE is a phone with power, since inside it hides an architecture very similar to that of the iPhone 6s. But how does it perform on a day-to-day basis with regular use? Is it comfortable? Is it strange to take a step back and return to four inches after being used to the formats of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus? How is your performance? It is time to answer all these questions.

Ergonomics: That principle from which we have moved away

Front of iPhone SE

The international smartphone market shows a trend towards screens with formats that exceed 5 inches. South Korean Samsung was one of the first manufacturers to venture with this type of phone, hand in hand with the Galaxy Note series. Apple decided to fight back with two iPhones with formats that left behind four inches. However, the Californian firm is aware that the four inches still has admirers still and not only in emerging countries, so there is still a good market opportunity in the mobiles less than 5 inches. Spain could be one of those countries in which the iPhone SE would find an interesting market.

Do you remember those days when ergonomics was everything? The iPhone SE is here to remind you. When Apple jumped to 4,7 inches and 5,5 inches, we partly lost that principle. The iPhone SE feels very comfortable in the hands. No more having to use both hands at all times. With the four inches we can answer incoming calls, write messages and navigate with one hand.

Another positive point is that we will not have to resort to uncomfortable finger stretches to cover the entire screen. According to one of Apple's announcements at the launch of the iPhone 6, the thumb should be enough to perfectly cover the width and length of the 4,7 inches, which is a "half" truth. Yes, it is true that we can travel the screen with our thumb, but by stretching it in a somewhat uncomfortable way. We also put our iPhone in danger, with great possibilities that it will end up falling out of our hands and more considering that the iPhone 6s design is quite slippery. Getting the iPhone SE thrown out of your hands is a mission that is more complicated.

It is somewhat strange to make the jump from 4,7 inches to the screen of the iPhone SE. In this way we live a process of adaptation similar to what we experienced when we had to upgrade to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus format. At first the navigation will be comfortable for you, but get ready to battle with the keyboard. The characters are more condensed and your fingers are used to moving differently. You will make more than one mistake when writing. By my second day of using the phone, I was already used to the compact keyboard, although I still had a few letters slip. Nothing that the autocorrect could not correct. Another element that will cost you to get used to at first will be the distribution of applications on the home screen.

Weight is an element that we cannot forget. The iPhone SE is lightweight. It weighs 113 grams compared to the 143 grams of its older brother, another factor that helps make the phone more comfortable to handle and that will undoubtedly attract the attention of some other buyer.

Last but not least, I missed hiding in my pants pocket a phone that didn't stick out or bulge that long. Sometimes I forget that I carry my SE in my pocket.

No brightness on the screen

iPhone 6 and iPhone SE

An aspect that still does not quite convince me in the case of iPhone SE is the brightness of the screen. While its format is very comfortable for me, the screen needs an improvement.

The difference in brightness that exists on the iPhone SE screen compared to that of the iPhone 6s. The four-inch phone is much less bright. To explain us better, put your iPhone 6 / 6s in battery saving mode. Leave the phone with the screen on, but don't touch it for a while. A few seconds later you will see how the screen reduces brightness automatically, to prolong the autonomy of the device. Well, the iPhone SE is as if it were in that cathartic state of battery saving mode at all times. The iPhone SE takes a step back in this regard. This factor, without a doubt, helps to extend the battery of the device on a daily basis.

On the other hand, it must be taken into account that when returning to four inches, we give a step back in viewing multimedia content. The 4,7 and 5,5-inch formats were well received among those users who enjoy consuming video and games on their phones. These types of users prefer large screens. In the four inches we miss a larger screen when watching videos from our albums, YouTube or even Facebook. If this is important to you, think twice before making the leap to the iPhone SE.

The anachronistic design: Not recommended for lovers of "the latest"

iPhone 6s vs. iPhone SE

It's what I like least about the iPhone SE. Its design brings something different in the day to day, after a year and a half with the iPhone 6 and 6s, but really it's a bit old-fashioned.

Let's face it, let's set dates and study the current market situation. The iPhone SE design is four years old. It was in September 2012 when the iPhone 5 was introduced, with a similar appearance. In an environment where phone designs are usually updated every year or every two years, the SE is a time machine that takes us back to the iPhone 5 stage. The space gray color, the one we have had in our hands, it gets boring. Sincerely, I miss that original black iPhone 5 how good it looked, but how easily it wore out. Black was a disaster in that sense, but it suited the bitten apple phone. On the front, the Touch ID is diluted with the home button, something that at least does not happen with the other available shades (silver, gold and rose gold).

The rear is still the weakest point in this section. The style is continuous, with those two black glass stripes and the central metallic part. Surely we have to wait for the arrival of the iPhone 7 for Apple to present a phone with a uniform body, without strange bands that break with the style of the phone for the mere fact that other types of obstacles have to be overcome (those presented by the antennas of the telephone).

The sides, in themselves, do not displease me. The corners vary slightly from the iPhone 6s: they are less rounded and more pronounced. The lateral black bands located on the top and bottom of the device they fit the iPhone SE much better than the gray bands on the iPhone 6s. And it is convenient to recover, in this format, the power button / screen lock at the top of the terminal. With just stretching the index finger we have said button within reach.

On the back we find the engraving "SE", the name of this new saga of iPhones that steps away from the apparent failure of the iPhone 5c, and that seems to be starting from scratch accompanied by a new strategy. Just below this engraving we find data on the design and manufacture of the device, but fortunately, and thanks to the latest laws in the United States, horrible logos disappear that before we saw reflected in the iPhone 5 and 5s that made reference to the approval of the Federal Trade Commission in the US, the European Union and data related to its recycling.

Apple's Trojan Horse

iPhone SE

The Greeks left a harmless horse at the gates of the city of Troy as a gift and a way to end the war with the Trojans. What the citizens of Troy did not know is that the important thing was inside of that horse. A Greek army hid in this immense gift to attack and take over the city. This is how this myth is collected. The iPhone SE is Apple's Trojan Horse.

What is the reason for this analogy? Simply to the fact that the iPhone SE, without a doubt, hides all its importance inside. The phone has a familiar appearance, but with a very powerful structure. And with this Trojan Horse, the company aspires to enter and conquer those emerging markets that still remain pending. In China it has succeeded, but the iPhone 5c did not have the expected success in other territories. And it seems that the penetration of the iPhone SE will not be so simple in India, but the truth is that the Californian firm has it easier than ever. Not only with power does it beat in the markets, but also with the price, an issue that we will discuss later.

Our apps move at the same speed as on the iPhone 6s, thanks to that A9 chip with 64-bit architecture and the M9 processor. Do you remember that moment when Apple introduced 64-bit processors and some of its competitors scoffed at its strategy? These had no choice but to rectify and in the latest generation of iPhone we see how the A9, in combination with this structure, the full potential of the device is unleashed. Something that is also noticeable in the autonomy. The A9 chip and the rear camera lens of the iPhone SE allow us to record videos with 4K quality (four times higher than High Definition quality). Capturing videos at this resolution and editing them through iMovie (Apple's free app for video editing and editing) is a joy. iMovie helps meet the basic needs, but navigating it is a bit more complicated on a phone with such a compact screen. We will have more ease of editing on other compatible iOS devices, such as the iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus or iPad Pro.

El iPhone SE perfectly holds a full day of regular useQuite an achievement considering I can't remember when my iPhone 6s last survived a full day of normal use without having to resort to more than one emergency charge. In my first two days of use with the iPhone SE, the battery did not reach the end of the day, but in fairness, I put a fairly heavy use of the device (more than usual, to test its processor, camera, recording and 4K editing, etc.). The rest of the days, in which I have used the phone both for personal use and for work, the performance has been better. However, I still insist that Apple must innovate in the battery department. Yes, the iPhone SE battery, with a capacity of 1642 mAh, performs better compared to the battery of the iPhone 6s (with 1715 mAh), but Apple's competitors get better marks in this section (the Samsung Galaxy S7 already integrates a battery 3.000 mAh).

As for the touch ID, Apple has reduced costs and implemented the first generation fingerprint reader. Complaints? Absolutely none. I have already done up to 20 unlock speed tests of the iPhone SE together with the iPhone 6s and the difference in speed is barely noticeable. Remember that Touch ID generated a lot of positive reviews in its first appearance for its great effectiveness. In the week that I have been using the phone, I have hardly noticed a difference when it comes to unlocking the terminal. Yes, there is a little more difficulty in recognizing the print when your hand is a little wet, but it is not a factor that should put a buyer back. The iPhone SE continues to be one of the safest smartphones on the market.

We do not forget the camera. The 12 megapixel rear lens offers the same quality as the iPhone 6s lens. And the “truetone” flash leaves you just as blind in night photos. The problem with photos in low-light environments remains that Apple's flash can only focus on the subject of the photo and not on the rest. As a result we get a well focused subject, but the rest a bit blurred. The camera of the Samsung Galaxy S7 gives ten laps to that of the iPhone 6s in that section. The front lens drops from 5 megapixels to 1,2 megapixels. Once again, an element that is not of the utmost importance (it is hardly noticeable when making videoconferences via FaceTime).

The iPhone SE integrates the option to capture moving photos (Live Photo), but we remember that this tool takes up twice the space. I recommend using it only in specific and striking cases.

Finally, a absence in the iPhone SE, and little important, is that of 3D Touch. This technology is not missing at any time. What's more, on my iPhone 6s I can't even remember when was the last time I used it. It's faster for me and how to get to the place in the app that I'm trying to access, than starting that game with the screen. Whether you've ever used 3D Touch in your life or not, you won't miss it on Apple's iPhone SE.

iOS 9. The perfect conjunction

iphone 6 with iPhone SE

In the history of Apple, software and hardware have always gone hand in hand and making a good pair. In this case, this marriage goes well together. The M9 and Siri make an enviable couple. This is the first low-cost phone from Apple that always listens, waiting for our commands directed to the voice assistant. A perfect tool for everyday life and that on a personal level I use several times a day to save reminders, set alarms, check the calendar and time or to start the timer when cooking or to be ready for when the washing machine finishes. . A simple, "Hey Siri" ("hey Siri", in the Spanish case), wakes up on the phone from his nap. An aspect that Apple has managed to implement perfectly in its products, but we do not forget that Motorola was one of the first manufacturers to implement this function. When we turn on the phone for the first time, we will have to go through a series of steps to configure the voice assistant so that it responds immediately when it recognizes our tone.

This is not the only portento of the M9 chip, which is able to measure more accurately our physical activity. Ideal to combine with applications that count our daily steps and that save data from our races, when going out for a run. If you have an Apple Watch, then the combination is perfect.

El iPhone SE comes with iOS 9.3 installed by default, so you will have to update to iOS 9.3.1 as soon as you turn on the phone. The functions that I have used the most in iOS 9.3 on the smartphone has been the option to add a double layer of protection to the stored notes and the Night mode (In this section I usually move the bar to rather cold colors instead of warm ones, which seem to bother my eyes more in low light environments).

Conclusions: The best price in the history of Apple. Can I buy the iPhone SE?

iPhone SE rear

Apple's Trojan Horse enters the market by offering its most attractive price in company history: 489 euros for the 16GB model. Of course, we recommend not making the mistake of acquiring an iPhone with this ridiculous capacity (Apple, it is time to change strategy). Surely in the iPhone 7 the 16GB model is already discarded and Apple starts from 64GB. It is a matter of time and more considering the latest innovative aspects of mid and high-end smartphones.

If you buy a 16GB iPhone, take moving photos (Live Photos) and capture 4K video, in two days you will have all the storage occupied. Therefore, we recommend buy the 589 euro model with 64GB of storageor. The phone is now available for sale in Spain.

If you have gotten a iPhone 6 or 6s, the advice is to wait. In September we will have a new high-end smartphone from Apple and everything indicates that it will see a deep renovation on several levels. Remember that if you plan to resell your iPhone 6 or 6s, it is advisable to do so in the weeks prior to the presentation of the new model, so that its value does not plummet.

However, if you are in an older generation and do not want to spend so much money on a new phone, then we encourage you to purchase the iPhone SE: it is powerful, comfortable and cheap. You will not regret your purchase. Just keep in mind the pros and cons that we have highlighted throughout this review after a week of heavy use.

Note: The terminal for this analysis has been temporarily loaned by AT&T.


  • Compact and handy format
  • Internal power
  • Is affordable


  • Screen not bright
  • Battery does not improve over competitors
  • 16GB model is insufficient
iPhone SE
  • Editor's rating
  • 4 star rating
489 a 589
  • 80%

  • iPhone SE
  • Review of:
  • Posted on:
  • Last modification:
  • Design
    Publisher: 74%
  • Architecture
    Publisher: 92%
  • Battery
    Publisher: 87%
  • Price quality
    Publisher: 96%

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  1.   Miguel said

    Do a 5se plus

    1.    Paul Ortega (@PaulLenk) said

      Its size then would not make much sense hehe It would be an iPhone 6s 😛

  2.   Rodrigo said

    My 6 Plus broke, I think I'll go for the SE and wait for the 7 to come out, it's not worth buying a 6s at this point is it?

    1.    Paul Ortega (@PaulLenk) said

      I would wait for the iPhone 7 to come out. Major changes are coming.

  3.   Jon said

    Good morning Pablo, 48 hours with the 64 Gb iPhone SE that has come with iOS 9.3, with normal use, calls, Whapp, some photos, emails, etc. and still 30% battery charge, I see you very well As for consumption, I don't know if it is because it is new, before this iPhone SE, I had an iPhone 4S, with Jail .. with iOS 8.4 and the difference in consumption is abysmal, and I did not have many applications from Cydia, Activator, Infinidock, and little else.

  4.   IOS 5 Forever said

    My iphone 4s with ios 5.0 and jailbreak using wifi, then 3g, bluetooh, checking mail, calls, alarm clock, music and web browsing; after two days the battery was at 22%. I caught a trip and left the charger at home.

  5.   Javier said

    I have a problem with my iPhone 4s not charging the battery