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Should you buy the iPhone SE?

A simple question but one with a more complicated answer.

AFTER BEING ANNOUNCED last month, the iPhone SE was billed as Apple’s cheapest phone yet.

Using most of the same hardware from the 6s range but packing it into the body of the 5s, it helps keep costs down but also increase familiarity among users – the 5s was a popular phone so basing the SE’s looks on it isn’t entirely a surprise.

But is it worth buying? Well, that depends on what you have now and what you look for in a smartphone.

So, what’s good?

Most of what you could say about the 6s’ performance could be applied here. The SE has almost similar hardware with 2GB of RAM, an A9 chip and a 12MP camera built into it.

The overall performance is great, and like the 6s, the extra RAM really helps out. Chances are you already know the deal with iOS so we won’t go into any detail about it here, but there are few changes here with day-to-day use.

The only real difference is the smaller 4-inch screen. It does see a small drop in resolution, but the smaller screen means this isn’t noticeable. It’s still sharp no matter which way you look at it.

If you’re used to 5-inch phones, it will take a little bit of getting used to but when it comes to one-handed use, you can’t underestimate how nice is it to be able to reach almost any part of the screen using just your thumb.

Add to that how light it is, despite it being slightly thicker than recent iPhones, and it becomes incredibly convenient.

Another benefit with the smaller screen is the battery life. The 1,624 mAh battery is only marginally smaller than the 6s’ 1,715 mAh battery, but a smaller screen uses less battery power, which helps lengthen battery life.

Getting a day out of it is perfectly achievable.

IMG_0417 Spot the difference: the iPhone 5s (left) and the SE (right).

What’s bad?

While the main camera is similar, the front facing camera quality has dropped from 5MP to 1.2MP and it shows. That might not be a significant issue for some but you will notice the reduction in quality and it is a weak point.

The other thing is while the smaller size is more convenient to hold, it also means apps have less room to work with. If you’re changing from a larger smartphone, it will take a bit of getting used to as the likes of WhatsApp fit in fewer messages on screen at any time.

And then there’s a problem that is consistent across all iPhones: storage space. The cheapest model is still 16GB with 64GB the only other option, costing you an extra €100 for the convenience.

Things are a little bit better now thanks to services like Google Photos and Spotify, but if you don’t use either (or you have poor reception/WiFi), your storage is going to fill up pretty quickly. 

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Should you consider buying one?

The answer really depends on the type of iPhone you have and what type of convenience you value more. Would you rather a smaller device that is easier to manage and put in your pocket, or a larger device that can make the most of apps?

Those using a 5s will likely be the main target as the jump in quality from it (and older iPhones) is significant.

If you have the iPhone 6, then the differences between the two aren’t as significant. The SE still wins in performance overall but the differences aren’t great enough to make the switch a no-brainer.

If the above didn’t hint towards it already, there’s nothing overly unique about this release. When all is said and done, it’s just a very good 4-inch smartphone that treads a familiar path.

Considering how few 4-inch or smaller devices are out there, it’s easily one of the best out there and the price certainly helps matters. But you’ll need to weigh up what you look for in a phone first before you part with your cash, especially since the next iPhone will be released in six months time.

The iPhone SE costs €499 for 16GB unlocked and starts at free on contract. It’s currently available on Vodafone, Three, Meteor, and the Apple Store.

Read: Facebook sees you taking photos of yourself using a virtual selfie stick >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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