Apple iPhone SE review

Added by on 04.07.16 | Last update 12.13.21
Apple iPhone SE review

While we get the feel the smartphone market is filled with models with huge displays. If earlier 5-inch devices were perceived as "shovels", now they are something average in size. With such a display diagonal, you won't amaze anyone. The size chase has led manufacturers to some extremes, and others have guessed that consumers have different needs. Accordingly, Apple offered the 4-inch iPhone SE smartphone without any reservations. What are its pros and cons - this we will find out in the next lines. 

Apple iPhone SE Specifications

  • Release date: 2016, March
  • Colors: Space Gray, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold
  • Dimensions: 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm.
  • Weight: 113 g.
  • Screen: 4" in, 640 x 1136, LED-backlit IPS LCD
  • Camera : Single, 12MP
  • Chipset: Apple A9 (14 nm)
  • CPU: Dual-core 1.84 GHz Twister
  • Memory: 16/32/64/128 GB, 2 GB RAM
  • Battery: 1624, ¬†Non-removable Li-Po
  • Network: GSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE
  • Operating system: iOS 9.3.2, upgradable to iOS 12.1.3
  • Sensors: Fingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass

If you are curious to find out all the details before reading the full review, visit the page for Apple iPhone SE Specs, where you will find even the smallest detail about the phone.


In appearance, the iPhone SE does not differ in practice from the iPhone 5s. The only noticeable difference is noticeable on the edges of the housing. There, the cuts are now matte-finished. In addition, users have a new color available - pink! 

In the rest in front of us is the familiar design of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. The dimensions of the smartphone are similar to the old models and amount to 123.8x58.6x7.6 mm. Its weight is 113 grams. Thanks to this, the smartphone lies pleasantly in the palm. The thumb reaches the top of the display without a problem. The ergonomics are indeed at a high level. 

To the smaller screen, of course, will need time to get used to. Most of all it affects the typing of text on the virtual keyboard. You'll get used to it in a few days, but you'll still feel the "shrinkage" of the interface. A 4.4-inch display can fit easily in the iPhone SE's casing, but the thick bezels have been lovingly preserved - like a relic of times past. 

To the materials from which the iPhone SE case is made, there are no complaints. The back and edges are covered with anodized aluminum. The faceplate is protected by tempered glass. 


The compact iPhone SE uses a 4-inch IPS touchscreen display with a resolution of 1136 x 640 pixels (326 ppi). Unlike the iPhone 6s, the iPhone SE's screen does not support pressure force recognition technology called 3D Touch.

The matrix is the same as on the iPhone 5s. Large bezels are again present. While the display size is small by today's standards, you'll have no problem reading information from it. The iOS 9.3.1 interface scales nicely to the 4 inches. The developers have taken care to develop adequate apps for the "small" iPhones. 

Among the drawbacks of the iPhone SE's small screen is that it's uncomfortable watching video. At a resolution of 720 pixels, large black bars appear at the top and bottom of the video. 


The iPhone SE's biggest differences from the 5s are under the hood. The smartphone is based on the same platform as that in the flagship iPhone 6s. At the heart of the system is a 2-core Apple A9 processor running at 1.8 GHz, which is complemented by an M9 co-processor. As in older versions of the iPhone, 2 GB of RAM and 16 or 64 GB of storage are provided in the SE model, depending on the configuration. 

The performance speed of the compact iPhone SE is at a very good level. Applications launch and run quickly. Performance is on par with the iPhone 6s. This makes the iPhone SE the fastest 4-inch smartphone of its time. 


Do you take photos often? Do you get satisfying images with iPhone SE? There's no reason to doubt that yes.

The iPhone SE's main camera is a 12-megapixel with a 5-lens lens and f/2.2 aperture, all without optical stabilization. Moreover, the pixels of the sensor have a size of 1.22¬Ķ. In comparison, the iPhone 5s has 1.5¬Ķ. Incidentally, this doesn't prevent the iPhone SE from taking quality photos in good light, and in poor light the detail drops slightly. The matrix is not capable of capturing much light. This is a typical smartphone problem that has only been solved in the most expensive models at this stage.

The front camera of the iPhone SE is 1.2-megapixel with an aperture of f/2.4. Selfie lovers will not be impressed. 

Fingerprint scanner 

A fingerprint scanner is built into the mechanical Home button, which is located below the smartphone's display. As in the iPhone 5s, it allows up to 5 fingerprints to be added. With the technology, you can unlock the device, pay in the App Store and for content in iTunes, and also make purchases through the Apple Pay payment system. 

The scanner works fast. No slower than the one in the iPhone 6s, but faster than the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6. 

Autonomous operation 

In iPhone SE, the manufacturer has relied on a 1624 mAh battery. It's slightly bigger than the one in iPhone 5s - 1560 mAh, but smaller than the one in iPhone 6s - 1715 mAh. The autonomous operation of the model is at the level of a flagship. At maximum load you can count on 4 hours. 

In web video viewing mode at a screen brightness of about 100 km/sq. m, you can count on about 11 hours before you need to recharge. This drops to about 6 hours if you play 3D games continuously at the same screen brightness. 


The compact and handsome iPhone SE is the best performing 4-inch smartphone of its time. It comes at a more affordable price compared to other iPhones on the market. While it doesn't stand out with a brand new design and is easily confused with the company's old models, its functionality is on par with the flagship iPhone 6s. 

The smartphone is indeed an attractive proposition - especially for those of you who want an iPhone but with a 4-inch diagonal screen, no more. 

Overall, the iPhone SE's design can be described as a time-tested classic. There are two cosmetic changes - a new color and a differently rendered logo. However, they do not affect the overall impression. From the point of view of appearance, the iPhone 5s stands before the user simply. 

Interacting with the iPhone SE with one hand is a real pleasure. You can reach every single spot on the screen without a problem. Even typing text with one hand is a breeze. You can use the second to hold your cappuccino early in the morning. The device format is perfect for people who like to do several things at once. 


  • Compact size;
  • Quality materials of workmanship;
  • High performance;
  • Quality cameras;¬†
  • Fast fingerprint scanner;¬†
  • Compatible with iPhone 5s cases and accessories


  • Large bezels around the display;
  • Weak front camera - only 1.2 MP.¬†

Apple iPhone SE video review

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is based on our team's personal experience with the Apple iPhone SE and third-party sources. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and reliable information, readers should keep in mind that this is a subjective assessment. The writing of this article was not paid for or sponsored by Apple.

Richard Taylor

Richard Taylor

Hello, I am Richard Taylor, a technology expert and journalist from the UK. I have a degree in Computer Science from the University of Birmingham. My passion is the latest technology, especially smartphones. That's why I chose to test, analyze, and write expert reviews about them. My technical expertise, combined with a deep passion for technology and years of experience, has made me a trusted source of information. Over the years, I have written reviews for various sites, but for quite some time now, I have been writing exclusively for PhonesData. You can see more about me here or read all my smartphone reviews here.

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