The iPhone SE, without competition

The iPhone SE’s release was very understated by Apple’s standards, no stage, no event, no “one more thing”. But the SE, even though it is a jumble mess of unused parts from previous phones, may well succeed in securing a new generation of users. Coming in at £469 for a 128GB version of the phone, it allows an easy way into the apple ecosystem for any potential first time buyers. This is in stark contrast to apple’s traditional pricing strategy, but may be just what the company needed.

In hindsight, this move by Apple could have been seen coming. They have used the ‘SE trick’ before, using the frame of the iPhone 5S with a beefed up A9 processor from the 6S. They also recently started reducing or freezing prices to become more competitive, as seen with the latest iPhone 11 and the latest MacBook Air. Most importantly they have been making good productive changes to their products taking feedback from their users. This was shown in the change back to scissor switch keyboards on their laptops, the vastly improved battery life on their newest phones, the new iPad OS and even the air pods pro. Apple lovers have been calling for a new SE for a few years now and they have finally responded. This new, price sensitive Apple, responded in the way we should have expected them to.

In short, the 2020 iPhone SE is an iPhone 8, with an A13 bionic chip, starting at £469. There are a few extra features that you get like portrait mode on both cameras but mostly it’s the same. That means that for under £500, you can get IOS, wireless charging, IP67 water resistance, the same main camera as the iPhone X and the best chip in any smartphone ever. Those features in a phone of that price are simply unprecedented.

Notably, Apple state no improvement in battery life on the SE, which is surprising given the monumental improvement in battery life on the 11 Pro, which uses that same A13 bionic. That’s an 1,820 mA battery for those that can remember, which is tiny by today’s standards. Another slight hit is that it only has a “not quite HD” display, which other mid-range powerhouses boast, and also many of them have larger displays as well. But these downsides are not total gamechangers, the battery life has always been an issue for Apple products and so has the display. Yet their phones have sold so many units over the past few years.

The phone’s supposed competition, the Google Pixel 3a and the Mi 9t Pro (Redmi K20 Pro), are now very difficult to recommend given the presence of the SE. The Pixel is blown out of the water in almost every aspect by this phone. But the Mi 9t Pro still somewhat holds its own with a brilliant notchless display, good camera, very good chip but no wireless charging or water resistance. The only reason to go with the 9t would be that new edge-to-edge display, and saving an extra £69 along with it.

However, competition from Android performance freaks has never been a significant problem for Apple, until they started to price themselves out of the picture. The very fact that they are offering a cheaper alternative would be enough to keep some customers because of IOS. If you also give them flagship quality internals, and flagship quality features in that familiar iPhone casing, there is almost no discussion to be had.

All in all, this phone will sell extremely well. It will halt the impending exodus out of the Apple ecosystem firmly in its tracks, and is such as easy phone to recommend. The battery life may still place a factor, but I think that whatever price range you go in to buy your next phone with, the new iPhone SE should be in the discussion.


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