Apple iPhone SE hands-on: love at second sight

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The new iPhone SE is reality. After the huge success around the first SE, Apple has presented a great device that seems to divide the camps between iOS and Android more than ever before and has critics hovering on cloud nine. And I also like it in the first hands-on test. Nevertheless, the Apple iPhone SE is certainly not suitable for everyone.

The sub-$ 400 iPhone

And so the iPhone SE is unparalleled, no longer a status symbol; the Apple now shines incognito. Because the iPhone no longer proves the wealth or debt level of its owner. He may not even have bought this phone on credit, because the iPhone SE is more than affordable in 2020.

Starting at $ 399, it comes with 64GB of internal storage; however, Apple is still not offering expandable storage or storage sizes in large numbers:

  • 64GB: $ 399 / £419
  • 128GB: $ 449 / £469
  • 256GB: $ 549 / £569

An incredibly familiar design

Apple’s cheapest current smartphone has a processor that makes the competition look pale . “The cheapest iPhone beats the most expensive Android,” I read this morning with my first coffee after parcel service UPS had dragged me out of my warm bed with a day’s delay. The comparisons between Android smartphones and an iPhone get on my nerves. There is de facto no comparison possible, and yet the fights are fought passionately. And so today I went a little bit prejudiced into this hands-on of a new iPhone, which already seemed so incredibly familiar to me when I unboxed it.

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The iPhone SE is hardly distinguishable from the iPhone 8, but the apple is now centered. / © AndroidPIT

The iPhone SE is the pimped sister or pimped brother of the iPhone 8. If you unpack at least one new iPhone every year – as I am allowed to do for professional reasons – you will have been disappointed at that moment. Because the iPhone SE is not a new iPhone. No wow-effect, no open mouth, or the feeling of a completely new interpreted glass back or stainless steel frame on the skin. The so important first impression was … boring. But, do you know what? Have you ever meet a person who doesn’t knock your socks off at first sight, but as soon as the first word comes out between their lips and it becomes clear what a big heart and fabulous intelligence is at work beneath the surface, you are simply fascinated? The iPhone SE is such a person.

The feel of it…!

The iPhone SE is so damn light (148 grams) and so damn small (138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 millimeters) and you don’t really want to complain because it feels just as incredibly soft, cuddly, and good. The iPhone SE is delicate, almost fragile if you are used to handling a much bigger and heavier device. I got used to the flyweight amazingly quickly in the course of the morning and learned to appreciate again the advantages that you lose when you carry around a big, heavy, and ostentatious iPhone 11 Pro Max as your daily companion. The soft glass back of the iPhone SE is really my highlight. The strong haptic feedback, which the home button on the front is capable of, creates an almost disturbing contrast right after setup. It immediately becomes clear: there is a lot of power in this little mouse.

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The Home Button is one of the highlights of the SE – for iPhone nostalgics. / © AndroidPIT

The iPhone SE appears visually simple, unobtrusive, and is kept suspiciously simple. Apple has placed the shiny silver apple in the middle like on the iPhone 11, as on the back of its current models, proving more than ever that a powerful iPhone is no longer positioned at the top, but has arrived in the middle of the consumers’ minds. The iPhone lettering is also missing in direct comparison to the iPhone 8. That is not a bad move at all. Because whoever buys this mobile phone will not peddle the name and will not buy a mobile phone case with a ridiculous recess for the Apple logo, because the times of bragging are over. People has grown out of his youthful urge for recognition with the brand.

Not the brightest candle on the cake

The design language and intelligence of this device impress me as much as its facial expressions. Because the LCD panel is one of the best of its kind you can buy at the moment. Only another LCD display performs better in Apple’s house: the notched panel of the iPhone XR called the Liquid Retina HD Display. Nevertheless, I have nothing to complain about here. Every interaction on the iPhone SE lets the 4.7-inch display shine fluidly , even if a lot of display is swallowed in the fresh air and with a corresponding amount of sunlight. These are the disadvantages of LCD displays, which never perform as well outdoors as under darker and therefore more ideal lighting conditions, and those interested in buying should be aware of this. It’s true: you can get a better display for the same price somewhere else.

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The iPhone SE’s LCD display, photographed out here under a slightly cloudy sky, is one of the best of its kind. / © AndroidPIT

The iPhone SE and iOS promise

After setting up the device, I was already able to install Apple’s latest iOS patch (iOS 13.4.1) , which directly reminded me that the iPhone SE is faithful at heart to the A13 Bionic. Due to the latest processor, it promises you years of big and small software updates. Even the iPhone 6s with Apple A9 processor, which has been available for five years now, runs on iOS 13, which makes the retail price seem almost ridiculously cheap.

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Software Update: this is a sight that will probably carry iPhone SE owners for years to come. / © AndroidPIT

The A13 Bionic is a declaration of war

The performance of the iPhone is easy to understand, as you would expect from a new iPhone out of the box, and yet highly attractive. It comes with Apple’s fast 7-nm A13 Bionic chip , which drives the technology inside this otherwise truly obsolete device to new heights like a pacemaker. I could convince myself of this by checking out all the benchmark tests, which make many a device sweat. Of course, the iPhone SE could also have been used as an expensive hand-warmer at that moment in time. But the nerve tracts in the tips of my fingers were far from transmitting a “hot” signal to my brain. (Author’s note: The benchmark values will be made available to you after classification in the full review. )

A simple yet effective camera

I was particularly curious from the outset regarding the built-in camera. And I have to admit that I look enviously at various Android smartphones that have night modes and telephoto lenses that I can only dream of as an Apple user. The iPhone SE does not offer all this (neither does my $ 1,400 iPhone). Nevertheless, I don’t forget that it was the company (Apple) that paved the way for portrait photography with (good!) bokeh effects in the mobile phone sector with the iPhone 7 Plus and iOS 10.1. And just like back then, the Californian company has done a great job with the new iPhone SE camera , creating an iPhone XR snapshot out of the iPhone 8 snapshot, which is very familiar to me and has all the nice bokeh effects.

On the front, taking pictures with a blurred background is as possible as it is handsome. The AI processor makes it possible. I’m already looking forward to the detailed photo tour with the device, so that our photography professional Stefan can give a competent assessment of the iPhone SE camera.

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The iPhone SE comes with 12-megapixel wide-angle shots, which are pimped up on the software side. / © AndroidPIT

Early Verdict

The iPhone SE is certainly not compatible with everyone. But this is probably not true to just an iPhone, or an Android phone. As with every product you buy or every relationship you enter into, you need to know exactly what your expectations are. And then you’re either willing to compromise, not choosing the brightest image, but getting a loyal heart. You either like the soft, delicate feeling when you touch it or you would like to have more in your hand. And then this relationship is possibly crowned with long-term success. There is simply no such thing as the perfect smartphone for everyone, but this phone comes damn close.

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Read more here: AndroidPIT

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