Apple Intros New 4-inch iPhone SE

If you miss the pocketable form factor of the iPhone 5s, Apple has added a new option for you in the new 4-inch iPhone SE. The cool thing here, though, is that the new iPhone SE isn’t stuck with old processors and cameras — the iPhone SE has the same A9 chip used in the iPhone 6s.

And what about the camera? It uses a 12-megapixel camera that can shoot 4K video at 30 fps, as well as 1080p HD video at 60 fps, with, get this, slow motion video support at a sweet 120 fps in 1080p or a liquid smooth 240 fps at 720p. What’s this mean? Basically if you were thinking you wanted to get a GoPro to nab some sweet action video of your kids playing or splashing at the waterpark, the quality packed into the iPhone SE might make you pause — at least, once third-party manufacturers come out with rugged waterproof cases like those available on the iPhone 6 and 6s.

In any event, Apple boasts that the camera in the iPhone SE is “the only camera you’ll ever need.” While I’m not willing to go that far — there is no optical zoom! — the high-quality camera is a pleasant surprise in Apple’s new, slightly less expensive iPhone.

Oh, and one more thing: It adds Apple’s new Live Photos feature that adds a tiny bit of video on either end of each photo you take, giving you a next-generation snapshot photo.

Inside the 4-inch iPhone SE

That 64-bit A9 processor is impressive enough in the bigger iPhone 6s, and in the iPhone SE, it pretty much guarantees that SE users will have a snappy experience for a few years — even as Apple upgrades iOS.

How fast is it? Apple says it delivers twice the CPU performance of the iPhone 5s and three times the graphics performance found in the iPhone 5s.

The iPhone SE includes Apple’s fast Touch ID fingerprint sensor, Apple Pay, and most every other iOS feature available . . . except for one: 3D Touch. On the iPhone 6s, Apple’s 3D Touch lets you press down on the screen to invoke apps and quick peeks at content. It also provides a bit of haptic vibration feedback. Is it important? Not yet, not to most people. Either way, Apple left it out on slim and trim iPhone SE.

What else do you need to know about the iPhone SE? It comes in two storage options, a 16GB or a 64GB version. The 16GB version is $399 while the 64GB version is $499, and you can pay for both on Apple’s monthly pricing plans or through your cellular service carrier.

The real question you need to ask yourself is this: Is 16GB enough storage for an iPhone these days?

If you don’t plan on taking very many photos or videos, 16GB will barely be enough. You’ll be able to rent a couple of videos, have some basic apps, do just fine . . . that is, until you start wanting to load up your iPhone SE with TV shows or movies in advance of a vacation. Or until you hit the beach and start taking some sweet 4K video with your 12 megapixel camera.

The point is, 16GB is dangerously little storage if you plan to use your iPhone’s camera, especially for video, and especially if you like to watch shows on your iPhone . . . and that’s not even considering people who (like teenagers) like to play large, graphically intense games.

All that said, Apple is offering the iPhone SE in four colors: Silver, Space Gray, Gold, and Rose Gold. It’s a fantastic 4-inch smartphone with plenty of power in a pocketable package.

About the author

Chris Maxcer

Twitter Website

I've been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and I still remember the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. I'm a big fan of elegant gear and great tech, but there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. Online I like to call out cool stuff on Wicked Cool Bite and blog with my buddies at Man Makes Fire. To catch me, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at the url of this site.