Size Matters with Apple’s Surprise Hit Low End Smartphone, the iPhone SE

My iPhone SE is approaching its second anniversary next week, and that’s old for a smartphone. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one when I read the announcement about the new device.

iPhone SE

iPhone SE

Released by Apple on this day, March 31, in 2016 and dubbed “the most powerful 4-inch phone ever,” I would get the $499 64 GB model in space gray a few days after it arrived in stores, and I was on iCloud nine from then on out.

There was only one key factor that influenced me to buy this particular phone model. To quote the tagline used to promote the 1998 Godzilla film, “size matters.”

My previous phone, an iPhone 5, had gotten significantly slower than when I purchased the device the first day it came out in 2012. What’s worse was its abysmal battery life! As most everyone now knows (due to Apple secretly throttling the performance of its older phones), a smartphone battery’s maximum performance progressively degrades over time with daily usage. So with my phone four years old when I finally decided to upgrade, it was definitely time that I shopped for a newer one.

iPhone SE and iMac

My iPhone SE rests docked in its third party charger with my iMac (early 2009) behind it serving as a backdrop.

Before the iPhone 5, I had the iPhone 4 and prior to that, the iPhone 3G which was the first model I ever bought. The reason I stayed put and didn’t upgrade to the iPhone 6 was that I became visually impaired and sadly lost my eyesight in 2013. While I use the Apple accessibility feature called VoiceOver (built-in screen reader software with Mac OS and iOS) to operate my phone, I felt that I wouldn’t enjoy any of the new features (much less, be able to use them), nor would I benefit at all from a new smartphone, which was why I hung on to my iPhone 5 for as long as I did.

When I was shopping for my new phone, the current models were the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. I knew that I didn’t want a phablet, so I was ready to get the 6S. Little did I know how much bigger the 6S was compared to my iPhone 5! It was a good thing that I got an idea of what a 6S would be like to use when I tried out my sister’s phone, an iPhone 6, which was the same size as the 6S. It was awkward in my hands since I’m used to using my phone one-handed the majority of the time, and with it significantly wider, I did not like its larger size or how it felt at all.

Just when I thought I had to forgo the upgrade and would have to hang on to my iPhone 5 indefinitely, as luck would have it, shortly thereafter the iPhone SE was confirmed and unveiled by Apple.

I previously had read rumors of the iPhone SE but had not planned on getting one. But with the 6S out of the question, when I read that it was going to use the same form factor as the iPhone 5S — the younger sibling of my iPhone 5 — I had my heart set on what I would get as my new phone.

And I immediately fell in love with the thing! The iPhone SE was much faster (super!) compared to my iPhone 5; it was like night versus day. While I couldn’t enjoy the improved camera with new Live Photos feature and new iOS interface being visually impaired, it still was a complete joy to use, and it was nice to once again have a fast responsive phone that lasted through the day and didn’t have to be recharged two or three times before I retired for the evening.

The beauty of it all? It was the same exact size as my iPhone 5 and not a behemoth like the 6, 6S, or the gargantuan “plus” versions. It took the outer design of the 5S and shrunk the inner architecture of the 6S and perfectly packed it all (minus the same camera and 3-D Touch) into one package and turned it into a hybrid of sorts to create the iPhone SE.

While now two years old, and even older considering that its form factor is a five-year-old design with three-year-old technology inside (making it a bonafide low-end smartphone), the iPhone SE is still being sold today alongside newer models – the iPhone 7 and 7+, iPhone 8 and 8+, and iPhone X (10). The device is at the bottom of the ladder with its affordable lower price in contrast to its successors.

The phone did receive a minor refresh last year with a $50 price drop and its capacities doubled from 16 GB to 32 GB for the $349 entry level version and from 64 GB to 128 GB for the $449 premium model.

A surprise hit during its sales in the latter half of 2016 (it initially did not do well the weekend of its release), the iPhone SE continues to be a top seller for Apple despite its smaller, throwback design among the other newer and much larger models that Apple also sells. Not to mention all the competing Android devices already crowding the landscape in the smartphone world.

Just like it was with the iPhone SE, the rumor mills are spinning once again with analysts forecasting a revamp with a new iPhone SE 2. Whether those predictions will be on target, as they were with the original, it remains to be seen if they also will ring true for the SE 2.

Will I stay with my iPhone SE or upgrade to an SE 2? I’m not sure. It’s too early to say. It all depends on its size since there hasn’t been any confirmation yet on if the SE 2 will retain the same form factor as the original (or if it’s even going to come out at all!), which is the most important characteristic I want in a phone. As long as they make it similar in size, even if they change its form factor with a redesign, I will consider it.

Or Maybe an iPhone 8…

Or will I jump ship and move up to an iPhone 8? I really like the slimmer and sleeker refined design profile of the 8.

“Hold on a second! Stop the presses!” is probably what you’re saying right now and asking yourself when did the iPhone 8 ever come into play here?

Well, after trying very hard for several years to get my parents to switch over to Apple (I even offered to buy them the phones five years ago as a wedding anniversary gift), just last week, they finally ditched their Android devices (most recently the Samsung Galaxy Note 4) and went to the Apple Store and got each of themselves a new iPhone 8. When I took a look at their new smartphones and held one in my hand, I was surprised at how it wasn’t that much bigger than my iPhone SE, and (I hate to say this but) I really liked it and want to get one now too!

So what am I going to do? It’s a real conundrum and definitely going to be a difficult decision for me to make. Darn you Apple for making such divine gadgets!

For more information and details on the iPhone SE, visit its official product page online at the Apple Store website where you can find tech specs and an overview of the device (and buy it too, if you’re so inclined after reading this article).

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