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Large Size of Apple’s New Low-Cost iPhone SE Disappoints

At long last, Apple has released a second-generation iPhone SE. The original iPhone SE was based on the iPhone 5s form factor and provided a smaller, less-expensive alternative to the iPhone 6s. Apple has nominally employed the same strategy here, essentially updating the iPhone 8 to bring this new iPhone SE’s specs up to modern standards. You can choose from black, white, and PRODUCT(RED) colors. Proceeds from Apple’s PRODUCT(RED) versions will go to the Global Fund’s COVID‑19 Response.

iPhone SE colors

Prices start at $399 for 64 GB, with a 128 GB model increasing it to $449, and the 256 GB model at $549. It became available for pre-order on 17 April 2020, with deliveries starting on 24 April 2020.

The Elephant in the Room

First off, size matters. After every iPhone release over the last few years, conversations I had with friends and acquaintances who don’t follow the tech industry always led off with “Why doesn’t Apple make a smaller iPhone anymore?” At first, I chalked it up to design trends, but more recently, I’ve resorted to joking, “Because Apple hates you and your tiny hands.” Do Apple designers never hear complaints from women who find current iPhones too large for their hands, much less their pockets? That’s a common refrain from Tonya, Glenn Fleishman’s wife Lynn, and many of my female friends, plus plenty of guys. Last I knew, Peter Lewis of Keyboard Maestro fame was still using an iPhone SE.

So yes, the new iPhone SE is significantly larger than the first-generation iPhone SE. It’s even a hair larger than the iPhone 6s that many people have been holding onto as each successive generation of iPhone has ballooned. Tonya passed on a hand-me-down iPhone X because it was annoyingly larger than the iPhone 6s that replaced her dying iPhone 5s.

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, is quoted in the iPhone SE press release as saying, “The first iPhone SE was a hit with many customers who loved its unique combination of small size, high-end performance and affordable price.” That’s absolutely true, especially the “small size” part. However, then he goes on to say, “the new second-generation iPhone SE builds on that great idea and improves on it in every way.” No. When small size is the key feature, “improved” would require that it get smaller, not larger.

Sorry, Apple hates you and your tiny hands. And your small pockets.

Impressive Specs for the Price

Apart from the disappointing size, the new iPhone SE sports an impressive set of specs for the price. Little is particularly new here, of course, since it’s basically an upgraded iPhone 8. The key specs include:

  • A13 Bionic: The second-generation iPhone SE uses the same A13 Bionic chip as the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. If past behavior is any indication, this second-generation iPhone SE won’t see any updates for years, so having the fastest chip available now will keep it up to snuff for some time.
  • Improved photos: Although the base specs of the iPhone SE’s 12-megapixel rear and 7-megapixel front camera are the same as the iPhone 8’s cameras, the additional processing power of the A13 Bionic chip enables Portrait mode, all six Portrait Lighting effects, and Depth Control. Tests will undoubtedly be out soon, and we expect that the image quality will be noticeably improved over the iPhone 8.
  • More storage options: The iPhone 8 offered storage choices of only 64 GB or 256 GB; the iPhone SE adds the middle-ground 128 GB option.
  • Video changes: There are several differences in the specs for video recording between the two models, but it’s impossible to tell if they’re substantive. The most likely one is the iPhone SE’s new “extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps” spec.
  • 4.7-inch display: The screen technology appears identical to the iPhone 8, with 1334-by-750-pixel resolution at 326 pixels per inch and a 1400:1 contrast ratio. It’s a Retina HD screen with True Tone and wide color display (P3).
  • Haptic touch: Whereas the iPhone 8 supported pressure-sensitive 3D Touch, the iPhone SE drops back to the Haptic Touch approach that relies on the length of the press and can’t distinguish between different pressure levels.
  • Touch ID: Although Apple has moved to Face ID for the 2018 and 2019 iPhone models, the iPhone SE sticks with the Touch ID sensor from the iPhone 8. Some people prefer Touch ID, and, especially as mask-wearing becomes more commonplace, Touch ID may be more effective than Face ID.
  • Qi wireless charging: Like the iPhone 8, the iPhone SE supports wireless charging. Battery life is the same as the iPhone 8 as well, and it’s still fast-charge capable.
  • eSIM-capable: Where the iPhone 8 was limited to a single nano-SIM, the iPhone SE has both a nano-SIM and supports Apple’s eSIM technology for a second number.

In short, then, the second-generation iPhone SE is just an iPhone 8 with a faster chip that enables better photos, a “just-right” 128 GB storage option, Haptic Touch instead of 3D Touch, and support for an eSIM-enabled second number.

What’s important about the iPhone SE, though, is its price. It costs $399, $449, or $549, depending on whether you want 64 GB, 128 GB, or 256 GB of storage. In comparison, equivalent models of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro are $300 and $600 more, respectively.

So as much as the size of the second-generation iPhone SE is disappointing, the price—and the performance for that price—is extremely welcome. At $699, the iPhone 11 could never be considered inexpensive in any light other than that cast by the $999 iPhone 11 Pro and the $1099 iPhone 11 Pro Max.

If you don’t care about size, Apple is still selling the beefy iPhone XR for $200 more. Apart from its older A12 Bionic chip, the iPhone XR has Face ID and somewhat better specs than the iPhone SE. But if you’re going to spend $200 more, ante up another $100 and get the iPhone 11.

For some people, an iPhone is such an important part of their lives that there’s no question that it’s worth spending over $1000. But for many others, an iPhone is nice but not necessary, so having the second-generation iPhone SE cut that price by more than half will significantly increase Apple’s sales.

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Comments About Large Size of Apple’s New Low-Cost iPhone SE Disappoints

Notable Replies

  1. Well it’s finally landed. As expected, it an 8 on the outside, with the internals of the 11. $399 for a 64GB iPhone with an A13 is a really sweet deal.

    I bet these will sell very, very well.

    A pity it’s not really small. I would have preferred a more expensive device that tries to be the “old” SE in terms of form factor, but has a chin/bezel-free screen like the X. That would have also rendered about 4.7" of usable screen, but in a package substantially smaller than the 8-like new SE. That would for sure have not been cheap and I admit, battery life should be better this way too. I went from a 6 to an SE because I felt the 6 was too big. Couldn’t operate it with just one hand. Looks like Apple will force me to give up one-handed use when my SE dies. Sniff. :wink:

  2. Nice. I like the big screen on my iPhone 6+, but given the pricing for the big-screen iPhone 11 models and the fact that the SE offers 64 GB of storage for $400, this may well be what I end up getting.

    The fact that it is retaining Touch ID instead of Face ID is an added plus in my book.

  3. Interestingly, in relative terms, it’s almost exactly the same size as the previous model. The 2016 SE was 89% the height of the next largest model and 88% of the width. The 2020 SE is 91% of the height of the next largest iPhone and 88% of the width. Weight? 2016 was 79% of the weight of the next up, and 2020 is 76%.

    I recognize that absolute size may be more important for a lot of folks, but Apple seems to be positioning it about the same relative to the top of the line models.

  4. I regularly look at the iPhone subreddit and lately there are a lot of people with iPhone 6s, 7 or 8 who have issues from broken screens to hardware failure who are now limited in how they can get support to get their phones fixed, which almost exclusively means mailing it to someone and being without the phone for days (if it is even repairable.) I have to think for a lot of people right now a phone at this price and at that size with 2019 specs (except cameras, which I believe is 2018/Xr equivalent) is fantastic.

  5. blm

    I’m still using an iPhone 5 :slight_smile: I almost bought an iPhone 11 but the huge size and huge price made me hesitate and finally decide my iPhone 5 is “good enough” for now. But the new SE is very tempting. While it’s a bit bigger than my 5, it’s not massively bigger, and I’m much more willing to drop $500 on a new phone than $1,000, and it will be nice to have Touch ID and be able to run an iOS newer than 10, so I’m leaning strongly to getting one.

  6. I’m still using a 6, so very happy with this model. A mini headphone jack would have made it perfect for me, but I’ll just get the dongle thingy for my wired headphones.

    I can understand SE owners will be disappointed, this new ‘SE’ does not do justice to the name. Apple should have called it a 9 and left the option to bring out a real SE replacement in the future.

  7. My wife would love to have a phone the size of the screen on her 8. She dropped her XR too many times in a couple weeks, so traded it for an 8. But that’s still too big for her.

  8. I think the old form factor doesn’t suit modern chipsets and battery requirements. I’ll have to let that dream go.

    Well, looks like I’ll be sticking with my 11 pro. I know, some hardship…

    The 11 pro is great, the cameras are good, night mode and video really good but the size still bothers me, I have to double tap to get the screen to slide down all the time and a load of apps don’t work well with that.

    I just liked how the old 5 form factor felt in the hand and miss that,

  9. Yep, still on an iPhone SE(1?). What is with the same name thing, that is just plain dumb.

    This new iPhone SE(2?) is only small compared to a tablet, so that is a bit disappointing, but at least it has a home button.

    I can understand why Apple wont make a new phone with the SE(1?) format, because its hard on developers to support the range of screens down to the S2 size (even Apple fails at this, I’ve seen system apps that can’t quite fit things on the screen). So it is disappointing, but understandable.

    But those of us who just want a phone to do phone stuff for the most part really don’t need a 4.7" screen and the phone size that goes with it. I’m at my computer most of the time, so if I want to do something I just use that. Even in the car, I have Car Play, so the screen size makes no difference.

  10. Gotta say I’m very disappointed with this from both size and cost perspectives.

    I use an iMac for a large chunk of each the day. I have a large iPad Pro for other times.

    As Peter says “just want a phone to do phone stuff for the most part”. Why would I bother with an Apple phone at all in that case? So I can sync Contacts, Calendar, Messages and Notes as simply as possible with the iMac and iPad.

    Is that convenience worth NZD 1,000 (NZD 800 for the 64GB model and NZD 180 for Apple Care)?

    Hmmmm – probably not.

    Cheers, Gobit

  11. Slightly off topic, but is there a big technological jump for Apple to make an iPad cellular into a phone? As in true phone, not with 3rd party apps. Is the cellular iPad missing some hardware? If I had to stop buying one, I slightly prefer the iPad over the iPhone. Especially if I have a watch and AirPods.

  12. Yes. For one thing it’s missing the NFC chip that allows the iPhone to be used with Pay at a POS terminal.

  13. I use a watch for that. Slightly better as I don’t have to Face ID each time.

  14. But your watch will only work with your phone. It doesn’t connect to an iPad nor is there an app for iPad to configure and update your watch.

  15. I currently own the original SE, and I’m going to keep using it for as long as I can. Then I’ll see what I can get at Apple’s refurbished section.

  16. Agree, with the understanding that “phone stuff” includes tethering, in case I need to get some non-phone stuff done while away from home (on a MacBook). This is where the original SE excels; it’s a phone and a hot-spot and it’s only slightly oversized.

    When small size is the key feature, “improved” would require that it get smaller, not larger.

    Well put, @ace.

  17. I’m excited. My 3.5 year old iPhone7 has a cracked screen and I’d like to replace it. The new SE, for me, is the perfect size and price.

  18. In four years, it will be relative to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. :slight_smile:

  19. John Gruber has a nice analysis of how the new SE fits into Apple’s strategy and lineup:

  20. I have an SE and find it a little ironic that they claim one of the successes is the size of the original SE, and then make it bigger. Quote “The first iPhone SE was a hit with many customers who loved its unique combination of small size, high-end performance and affordable price; the new second-generation iPhone SE builds on that great idea and improves on it in every way”… so Apple is still saying that bigger is better since that was one of the “improvements”?

    Without seeing it side by side, it will be hard to compare. I already have a hard time fitting the SE (with case) into some of my cycling jersey pockets.

    I will check it out though, since mine is 4 years old I’m going to need a replacement at some point.


  21. I was planning on getting up early and pre-ordering the new SE. I really like my SE- Just the ability to move around the apps with one hand and a thumb. Then I read that is the same size as the 6S.
    What! I need a new SE as my screen was replaced by a third-party vendor that uses cheap screens.
    So therefore my polarized glasses do not work with it- the entire screen is black. Also holding the phone to your hear produces unwanted key presses- something really wierd. So I just ordered a brand new OLD SE from a vendor in China via ebay, and I bumped up the memory to 128GB- great price also. I read in the Wash. Post that supplies will be running out of those also.

  22. That’s brave! Let us know how it works out.

    Tonya ordered an iPhone SE this morning to replace her aging iPhone 7. She’s not happy about the size, and wasn’t happy about the iPhone 7 size either, but at least it’s not as large as all the newer models.

  23. I ordered mine in bright red just a bit ago. :heart_eyes: Since it’s the same size as my iPhone 7, it will work for me. I’ll be so happy to no longer have to view through the screen crack, that is now accumulating dust. :wink:

  24. I totally get that. I went from a 6 to a 2016 SE because of size.

    That said, in terms of performance, camera, and battery life she should nevertheless see a really nice boost. Be sure to let us know how that transition goes and of course first impressions. :) Anxious to hear actual user reports.

  25. I was just thinking, if anything happened to my 2016 SE (I only just bought it last year), bright red would be the color I’d choose for my replacement 2020 SE.

    I wonder if it would look even better if it had red chin/bezels vs. black. I don’t think Apple has ever done any others for those than black and white though.

  26. I have an SE that I ordered from China on eBay many months ago. Arrived in original unopened packaging, and even included a converter for charging cord in case I was overseas. No problem with it at all.

  27. I used to own an SE. I initially liked its compact size but I found the screen a bit too small and a little difficult to see, especially when taking pictures. I own an 11 Pro now and its size is perfect for me. I’m also impressed by how well the Face ID works. It almost never fails, even with my hat on, as opposed to the Touch ID that only worked about half the time.

  28. You can always go to a company like ColorWare and buy a custom skin for your phone. They don’t have skins for the 2020 SE yet, but I’m sure they will soon. Their iPhone 8 skins might fit, but I’d wait for official support just in case they don’t.

  29. blm

    Ordered! (Black, 256G) Supposed to get here May 4 - 6.

  30. In addition to this, I’ve read some articles about how the new SE form factor and price will also make it very appealing in challenging markets for Apple, especially India and China. The new SE will also increase sales for services as well as iPhones:

  31. Do you really think Apple cares about developers, though? :-) They’re happy to introduce new screen sizes whenever it suits their needs on the larger end.

  32. In this case, it includes themselves as all of their apps have to at least in theory work in the 4" screen, and since they tend to really like white space, that becomes difficult.

  33. I ordered three iPhone SE(1)’s for my kids late last year. They love them, and they don’t need big phones since they have laptops for school anyway. And now instead of an Android phone, they get all the shared stuff, including Find My which is very handy when they forget where they put their phone down, or when I need to know when to head somewhere to collect them.

    Of course, in pandemic times, the whole mobile phone seems like a bit of a waste of time, right? What’s the point of a mobile phone if you’re always at home anyway!

  34. Really wish they would have kept the old form factor the way Steve Jobs intended.

    I have a 9.5 inch finger span and to me the old SE is perfect. Me, my Dad and my wife all have an old SE. Just feels too cumbersome to operate anything bigger with one hand.

    All 3 of us would pay top dollar for a small form factor with good features. Seems they have their different markets mixed up between cheap and small. I want small, at any price. If all 3 of us prefer it, there’s got to be a consistent portion of their market that doesn’t want to carry a mini tablet around in their pocket.

  35. Angry Birds? Music? Podcasts? I still carry my phone even in the house (and I’m not always in the house, anyway).

  36. I haven’t followed all the releases over the years - is it true this form factor has curved edges and the camera protrudes?!


  37. To make and receive phone calls, :wink: and as @schinder wrote … music … when I’m sitting on the porch.

  38. I’m afraid every iPhone currently sold by Apple has a protruding camera and rounded edges. There’s been several rumors that the iPhone 12 will at least go back to flat edges. Possibly a case that looks more like the iPad Pro (which looks like the iPhone 5 or 2016 SE).

    The protruding cameras are here to stay, I’m afraid. What I have never heard, but to me is basically the only thing that makes sense, is that this is done because of weight. You see if you instead of this silly camera bump made the case flush that would give you about 1 mm of extra depth for the battery. The battery life increase would no doubt be very welcome. The one thing I can think of why not to do this is that batteries are very heavy. Apple might simply not want the iPhone to become heavier due to thicker battery. The added thickness itself (assuming flush case) obviously cannot be the argument since Apple had no problems adding an extra 1.4 mm over the years as they progressed away from the svelte 6 to the bulky XR. The bump looks awkward and the wobbly case it makes for is just outright silly. But other than the weight issue I cannot think of why they’d go this route. But again, I have never heard anything about that being the ‘confirmed’ reasoning. So for all I know, Jonny or Tim or some big cheese at Apple just likes the look of the camera hump (WTF?) or likes that they can use their wobbly iPhone as a metronome. :confused:

  39. Perhaps so they can sell you a Smart Battery Case? Giving you an even bigger bump? Yeah, somebody at Apple must really like bumps. :wink:

    But seriously, I have been wondering about this also. The camera bump really necessitates a case, making the phone thicker, so thickness by itself can hardly be the reason. Weight savings would seem reasonable, but then why a fully glass back? It is a real mystery.

  40. Oh thanks, I didn’t know they all had the camera bump now. I always use a case so I guess that won’t matter. But do they have curved sides or did I misread that? I often lay mine on it’s side to stabilize it to take a pic. It would seem silly to me if you couldn’t do that anymore.

    I agree with you on potential batter life but I’m sure that would cost in weight. I’ll still check out the new SE when I’m out of quarantine. Looking forward to hearing first impressions on here!


  41. I’ve heard that the bump was the result of having multi lenses that make for much better, and more options for, photos and videos. High quality photos are a very big selling point, including stuff like ultra wide angle and panoramic shooting, multi level telephoto, high quality zoom, slow motion, 4K video, low light, etc. It’s a big reason why so many people are shelling out big bucks for top of the line iPhones or Samsungs rather than lugging around a big, heavyweight DSLR camera and a phone that’s just for talking and texting. It’s a big reason why Apple’s stock is worth so much than Nikon’s.

  42. Well, sure. But then why not make the case as thick as the lenses require, and the battery as thick as the case, so, no bump, and more battery life?

    I’ve read that a thicker battery would affect some of the radios, requiring more power to get through the extra mass of the battery, almost completely offsetting the advantage of the larger battery. The battery is kept at a size that delivers a minimum battery usage, and the thickness of the case is derived from that.

    I’m not sure that explanation is right, but I’ve read it more than once.

    Also, if the device weight was critical then Apple shouldn’t have switched from lighter mostly aluminum cases to heavier (and more fragile) mostly glass ones.

  43. A bigger battery would mean more weight and a significantly bigger price. Glass is easier to mould and IIRC, a glass back is necessary for wireless charging. IIRC about this one too, the glass Apple uses in iPhones is less susceptible to scratches. I traded in my trusty 4s (which is still going strong) for an 8 Plus years ago, I was glad it also had a glass back as I think it looks so much nicer.

  44. They sure do.

  45. The former is true. The latter is not. The battery is a fairly inexpensive compared to other components, especially by volume. Last I checked, the cameras and screen are the expensive items. Then the A13.

  46. That sounds like an interesting theory. What I don’t get is where this power loss should occur. The antennas are the lining on the side, the RF amps are on the board. I cannot see any RF signal path through the battery. Not saying it’s not there, just don’t understand how this would lead to power dissipation into the battery.

  47. Well yech. Who thought that was a good idea?!


  48. Funny, I can do that on my iMac when I’m home. My iPhone stays on the night stand unless I’m going somewhere AWAY from home; I don’t need to carry it when just outside the house. For phone calls, that is what the home phone is for and since 99.44% of all calls I receive on either it or the iPhone are robo/spam/telemarketing, I only answer if I recognize who is calling.

  49. Because of the arrogant Jony Ive! Now that he has been booted out, I hope things will improve down the road; unfortunately the SE2 was designed under his regime.

  50. I always thought that might have been a nod back to the old iPhone 3G(S). It had those polished curved bezels. Not all the way around though, only as seen from the front.

    Something I never liked about the sides of my old 6 was that it was almost impossible to pick up from a flat surface. The SE interestingly enough is easier. I would have thought a straight edge that meets the table would be harder to pick up than a curved edge that leaves a gap to the surface below. But in reality, the 6 was like a bar of soap (despite being slightly wobbly due to protruding camera) while the SE is a lot easier to pick up. Still harder than my old 3, but definitely easier than the 6. Maybe the extra thickness of the SE helps too. The 6 was IIRC the thinnest iPhone Apple ever made. Maybe the new X-style iPhones are easier to pick up due to their extra thickness and the gap to the surface below.

  51. Unless you put a case on it, that will take care of both problems. I have a 6 with an Apple leather case, never any issues picking it up from a flat surface. It will probably be the same for the new SE, and since that is mostly glass, making it less slippery and protecting it somewhat if it does slip, is even more important I think.

  52. Perhaps you find something like this is a good idea for your photography needs?

    I have something similar and it has been serving me well for more than 5 years now.

  53. Ah! You’re one of the few remaining people who still have land lines. :slight_smile:

  54. I had a 6 in a TPU case and was not terribly disheartened to see it drop, irretrievably, into a river. I bought my SE after that and have been an entirely happy camper. I didn’t like the size of the 6 and, even with a case, found it uncomfortable to hold for any length of time. The case simply did not provide enough “padding” for a phone as thin as the 6. Maybe the 8/SE is better; I’ll have to hold one before I buy one. I am hopeful, however, that my SE lives and is supported for a few years longer.

  55. As far as I know, the new SE is exactly the same size as the 6, 7 and 8.

  56. No thicker? Or larger (just bezel magic?). I’ll admit to being too lazy to look; not really interested in the SE2 at this point. I’ll see what’s in Apple’s lineup when my SE is no longer viable.

  57. My first iPhone was the 4s, so I never held anything earlier. I looked at some cases online last night and it seems like the more durable ones that I typically get (Otterbox Commuter/Defender) would take care of the curved edge.

    What I found with my SE though, is that since it was the same size as the 5, some companies didn’t make anything new for it and it was like they were just pulling old stock off the shelves for cases. I seemed to have an easier time getting replacement parts for my 4s cases after 5 years, than I did in 2 years for the SE. I hope the new SE doesn’t suffer the same fate.


  58. I actually have one! Completely forgot about it - thanks!

    I do use my “real” camera when I plan on taking pix, but I still manage to take thousands otherwise with the phone when I’m out and about.


  59. That’s true.

    Personally, I never get a case. I don’t like the idea of spending a lot of money on a phone that was engineered to be svelte and sexy, only for me to then go out and slap an ugly shell onto it effectively making it fatter.

    That said, I do understand other people benefit from cases to help them deal with drops (I very rarely drop my phone, but of course I know it happens) or to store credit cards etc. (a lot of woman seem to like that). I guess it’s just not my thing. While I consider the wobble unsatisfactory engineering, it’s not that it bothers me to the point where I’d go and buy a case because of it. Of course, YMMV.

  60. The new SE is the same size as the 8. The 8, however, was slightly thicker than the 7 (+0.2 mm), which in turn was slightly thicker than the 6 (+0.2 mm).

  61. The 8 and new SE are only 0.4 mm thicker than your old 6. If you had trouble holding the 6, I would imagine it could be the same with the new SE. The finish is different though, so that might help (or not). You should try it out and check for yourself once Apple stores can re-open again. Whenever that will be. :crossed_fingers:

  62. So, I had the 7, which I considered too big, & for its last x months it refused to hold my fingerprint. Where to go next? 8 was too big & the 11s were already out. I went to an Apple store to feel them. I ended up w/iPhone 11 Pro & IT’S TOO BIG. Apple just isn’t considering those of us with smaller hands!!!

  63. Well if the 7 was already too big for you it’s no surprise the 11 Pro wasn’t going to feel better. It’s larger in every dimension. Heavier too.

  64. I feel I will keep my 64GB SE until it dies or I do. I note the new SE, which looks lovely especially in red, just replaces the identically-named old SE as if the original one had not existed… and that makes me wonder if my old SE will be deprecated for iOS 14.

  65. I’m guessing it’s cheaper to re-use what they can from existing form factors than retool for smaller form factors; significant for a budget device. I also wonder about heat dissipation in a smaller form factor; heat is a huge problem, made worse by wireless charging. Not sure the area difference is big enough to matter, but it just might be. :man_shrugging:t2:

    Still, Apple hating people with those nasty little hands seems most likely; I know I hate 'em.

  66. Call me happy. This new SE is very close to the same physical size as my faithful but aging 6S, so the size is fine with me. I am finally able to install the latest operating system and download dozens of apps. (Everybody has an app these days, and I only have 2 screens of them on my phone right now, to conserve memory.) I am going from 16MB to 128MB! The 11 is much too big and too expensive, so the timing on this SE is just right. Now I can join the rest of the 21st century!

  67. After having the Xr for almost a year I’m trading it in for the SE, back to the smaller size. I went back and forth between the 8 and Xr and thought the Xr would be better. However it’s just too big for my pockets and my hands as many have said. It will be nice to have something that fits nicely again. I don’t know what I’ll do in 4-5 years- hopefully they keep making a smaller phone.

  68. Rumors say the iPhone 12 expected this fall will come in one model with a 5.4" screen and no bezels.

    That’s half an inch less diagonal than the 11 Pro which is already smaller than the XR. If I assume the H:W ratio remains unchanged from the 11 Pro, that would result in a device with just shy of a 1/4" less width than the 11 Pro. Roughly 5.3" high and 2.6" wide overall. Or about 0.15" shorter and 0.05" narrower than the 8.

    If these rumors are true, although we won’t be getting something like the 2016 SE, there is hope that at least we’ll be getting something noticeably smaller than the 11 Pro or the 2020 SE.

    Silver lining, the low-budget 2020 SE will still remain quite close in size to this rumored 5.4" 12 meaning that there will be a good selection for those who felt left out with the recent 11s — both those who want inexpensive rather than small, and those that prefer small over cheap.

  69. 4s. For me, that’s the one that went through the wash. I still have it (used, in box). Good paper weight now.

  70. Honestly, I’m a little puzzled by all the negative comments based on the new SE’s size. My original SE is, in most respects, a wonderful iPhone; but reading web pages on such a tiny screen is a constant frustration. Composing web messages is even harder. Considering the pervasiveness of the internet in virtually everyone’s life nowadays, the original SE’s screen is simply too small for the average iPhone user today. Compared to my iPhone XR, the iPhone 8 feels very thin, light and easy to handle. I think a cheap, modern iPhone of this size will be a huge hit.

  71. I agree – I think it goes to a difference in definition. Apple seems to see a ‘small’ iPhone in relative terms, thus the new one being about the same ratio to the larger iPhones as the first one. Others have a more absolute definition of small.

    Actually, that’s a good question – what constitutes a ‘small’ phone for everyone? What’s your definition?

  72. My definition is what I said in my last comment: A good small phone for everyone has to be reasonably suitable for all the tasks that most people use a phone for. The old SE, as much as I love it, doesn’t fit that definition because of the tiny screen. Could Apple have made a bezel-less iPhone SE smaller than the iPhone 8 but with a larger screen than the old SE? Probably, but for whatever reason, that’s not what they decided to do.

  73. I don’t think anyone is arguing Apple should release a 2016 SE sized phone for the “average” iPhone user.

    What I do believe some are arguing is that next to the half dozen or so cutting board sized iPhones there ought to be room for one iPhone that can still be used well singlehandedly by people who are south of 6’ 5".

    But I agree with the rest of your comment. I also believe this new SE will do very well on the market. It’s a lot of oomph you’re getting for $399.

  74. Okay, what size is that?

  75. I’m not sure that’s the kind of size I meant…


  76. But if they make the phone the size of the LCD screen of the 8/SE/etc, then software doesn’t need to change. If they can’t hide the face ID stuff behind the screen, then put the home/fingerprint button on the back. And because of the smaller form factor, the camera bump would go away since additional thickness may be needed to fit the electronics.

  77. That diagram (minus the porn comment) is interesting. Up until the invention of the smartphone, the trend was to make phones as small as possible. I remember how everybody loved the Motorola StarTAC when it came out. And I saw some that were even smaller than that.

    Of course, not all of us agreed. My first phone, a cheap Audiovox flip-phone, was small enough that I could wrap my hand entirely around it. The buttons were small and awkward. When, two years later, I replaced it with a Motorola Razr V3c, which was much better, featuring a keypad large enough to use comfortably.

  78. I agree with this, and the article I quoted before speculated that the new SE was designed not just to make owners of older SEs or earlier to be happy, it’s also aimed at being an introductory product for developing markets that have been challenging for Apple, esp. India and China. China and India are now the world’s two largest smartphone markets; the US recently fell to #3.

    A key goal for Apple is locking in new iPhone users into the Apple ecosystem. It’s probably why they built a newest A chip into it…gaming, movies, photos, iCloud storage, Music as well as throwing in free productivity and photo editing apps. Although it doesn’t have three or four lenses, it has a camera that’s comparably better than what’s available in these in these markets in the price range. And for the price, it’s got a good sized screen for gaming, movies, TV, FaceTime.

    In addition to convincing Foxconn to build a manufacturing center in India, Apple convinced a manufacturer of chargers and other components to buy a Nokia plant that was sitting idle there:

    Apple, after years and years of politicking and negotiating, will be opening Stores throughout India:

    Apple also opened stores in Brazil, Macao and other countries. So I think they developed the new SE to sell to high opportunity markets for hardware and services at least as much as keeping fans of smaller sized phones in the US that just want to talk and text happy. And I strongly suspect there won’t be a five or six year lag before another new SE is introduced. And I’ll bet it will be in about a year or two because 5G is aggressively rolling out in China.

  79. Agreed. My new SE is…in the city and out with the courier for delivery right now, and I expect to be fully satisfied with the size.

  80. As @Simon said, it’s just that many people are small enough that an iPhone 8-sized phone is awkward, and if you don’t do a lot of reading onscreen you may not care about the screen size. The old iPhone 5s form factor and industrial design was a sweet spot for many.

    Would I get one that small? Probably not unless it had the power and cameras of the bigger phones, but I find the iPhone 11 Pro constantly uncomfortable to have in my pocket.

  81. Let me attempt to quantify. My hand is about 8 1/4" from tip of thumb to tip of pinky. I could not use my iPhone 6 singlehandedly. I can however, mostly use my 2016 SE that way. Now it’s entirely possible I’m just terribly clumsy, but when it comes to my left hand (my finger hand) I’m fairly confident that’s not it — I’ve been playing the violin since I was six.

  82. I was always one of the smallest kids in school and grew up to be a petite adult. I wear small size gloves, and I love big screens. Less scrolling of web pages or turning pages of books. Larger sized photos or illustrations with more detail are important to me as well. I gladly switched from a 4s to an 8+ and never once regretted the size. Using a large phone was no problem for me, and I type much faster on a larger screen.

  83. And there’s no lack of them for you. It’s those who don’t want to use two hands, or be unable to put the phone in a pocket, who are suffering with the current design trends.

  84. So I’m still using an iPhone 4 with a Verizon account (a hand-me-up from a young nephew). So would someone explain like I’m 70 how I would transfer files from that to a new iPhone SE if I order one? Apparently they’re only available by mail, as the local Apple store is closed indefinitely and the Verizon store doesn’t have them. There’s no little SIM card in the iPhone 4 to move over.

  85. The best way I suspect that is available to you is to backup your iPhone 4 and restore the backup to the new iPhone. You might feel more comfortable doing this via iTunes.

    When I last bought an iPhone (6 to 11) i put the 2 phones next to each other and the new iPhone gave me the opportunity to transfer my data directly from my old iPhone. I do not know if the version on your iPhone 4 supports this feature.

  86. Will that transfer the Verizon phone account to the new phone? Or do I need to find a store open somewhere to do that?

  87. As a Verizon customer who has moved several times to new iPhones, there has never been need to go to a store. I might have had to call them once when there was no sim card, but never had to go to a store.

  88. When we bought our iPhones in Apple Stores they always asked about our provider (Verizon) so they could load it up with the appropriate new SIM cards for the new phones. I’m assuming that they will ask you for the info when you buy the new SE online. We both upgraded from 4s to 8+.

    The easiest way is via iCloud. Just make sure you back up your current phone before starting. The directions are here:

    Or you can set up your new SE through a Mac using iTunes or the Finder. Again, just be sure you backed up just before you start:

    Here’s the Finder or iTunes backup procedure if you haven’t used it before:

    If you run in to any problems, you can call Apple for help. Lately I’ve found Apple’s phone help people to be somewhat better than those in Apple’s stores. (I’m refraining from using bad language about that particular Apple Store purchasing experience). Due to the current Coronavirus problem, there will probably be a longer wait for phone help.

  89. As a Verizon customer who prefers in-person business over web sites, I’ve found that over the years you don’t really have a choice. For my first three phones, I could go to a Verizon store, select a new phone and walk out fully upgraded - they would even transfer my address book and photos (the only data retained on those old models). After that (including all of my various iPhones), the store would just place an order to be delivered by mail later in the week. In other words, the worst of both worlds.

    Which makes me wonder why Verizon even has retail stores anymore since they don’t seem to do anything you can’t do everywhere else.

  90. I think it’s because AT&T and T-Mobile have them.

  91. When you buy the iPhone SE, Apple will likely ask you if you want to transfer the number. (They do for AT&T; I assume Verizon would be similar.) Then, when you get the iPhone SE and start setting it up, it will automatically activate itself and deactivate the iPhone 4. Tonya just did this with her iPhone SE, moving from an iPhone 7.

    But yes, make sure you have backups via iTunes and iCloud (one may be all that’s necessary, but it’s never a problem to have both) to move your data and settings over. In Tonya’s case, the iPhone SE was able to copy all its data from the iPhone 7 sitting next to it, but I suspect that requires a newer iOS than your iPhone 4 would have.

  92. Yes, Verizon is the same. When you order a phone via the web site, you can choose to upgrade an existing line or add a new line to your account. If you upgrade, then activating the new phone deactivates the old one.

    But I don’t know why they bother to do this. If the new and old phone use the same size SIM card, then they should be able to just give you instructions on how to move it from the old phone to the new one. But that’s never even presented as an option.

  93. I think they do it because nano-SIMs are small and tricky to work with, particularly for those without decent dexterity or eyesight. I know I’ve had trouble with them when I’ve swapped in new SIMs for overseas travel. And the support cost of failure due to losing it or breaking it is high.

    Also, for reasons I never understood, when we used to go into the local AT&T store to swap things around (such as when I’d get a new iPhone, Tonya would get my old one, and Tristan would get her old one), the guy there would often put in a new SIM in some of the phones even when one wasn’t needed by a form factor change. I got the impression that it was cleaner in AT&T’s system to assign a number to a new SIM than to reprogram an existing one.

    I suppose, in the case of the new iPhone, if they shipped it with an unattached SIM, that could potentially leave that SIM available for hackery.

  94. My guess is that most people replacing their mobile devices don’t realize how very delicate and easily damaged SIM cards are. There would be a large % of customers going ballistic about having to buy another one if someone dropped it into his coffee cup even after reading repeated warnings to be careful in the instructions.

  95. I never understood why some US carriers like Verizon have such a convoluted approach. Maybe it stems from the old CDMA days when their devices didn’t have a SIM and handsets had to be “activated” by the carrier. In every single European country I worked over the years, I never encountered such a silly complicated process. They do it exactly as you propose, @Shamino. You usually get your SIM and move it from one device to the next as you please. Which ever device it’s in, automatically gets the number you have on that SIM. Extremely useful when traveling or when juggling different phone numbers. Need a different size SIM for a newer device or somehow manage to destroy your SIM? You call you carrier (or go to their website) and they send you a new SIM. Once the new SIM is inserted and the new device turned on, it automatically deactivates the old SIM. Done. None of this activation nonsense. No transferring phone numbers or any of that baloney.

    Fortunately, not all US carriers are as antiquated. T-mobile in my experience has operated like I remember European carriers did. Your number is attached to a SIM. Wherever that SIM goes, your number goes. No going to stores and waiting in line, no calls to God knows where waiting forever on hold to have your handset “activated”, none of those shenanigans.

    Actually, I’m a bit disappointed Apple didn’t throw around its weight to just dictate to US carriers that in the name of customer experience and ease of use this is how it will work on iPhone period. Would also save them from having to sell iPhones specifically for each and every carrier. Just ship out one model with an empty tray. When it arrives customer pops in their SIM (or the smaller replacement they got from their carrier). Done. Simple. No BS. The experience I’d expect from an Apple product.

  96. The new SE is an eSIM phone, if I’m not mistaken. I haven’t bought one of those yet - do they actually still come with US carrier SIMs or do they activate the eSIM? (I haven’t bought anything but SIM-free from Apple since 2015 for all of the iPhones for our family; we always just transfer our SIM over from our old phone. We are all on Verizon, the new phones just activate as soon as we go through the set-up process.)

  97. The new SE supports eSIM for the 2nd SIM. But according to Apple it still comes with a physical nano SIM if ordered by selecting a specific carrier (the thing Apple calls “carrier-activated”). If you choose SIM free it comes without nano SIM.

    I’ve also always bought SIM free and simply brought over the old SIM I had previously been using (T-mobile). Never had any issues.

  98. I think it’s the other way around. The carriers would want to make it more difficult for someone to switch to another service in a physical or digital store that supports every major provider. They probably would prefer that all Apple Stores would totally vanish overnight so that they could greatly increase the $$$ they collect on the number of iPhone or iPad they sell.

  99. Apparently, Haptic Touch in the iPhone SE doesn’t work in Notification Center

    And John Gruber comments on the overall 3D Touch/Haptic Touch issue at Daring Fireball too.

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