The new iPhone SE review

The iPhone SE is a smartphone designed and marketed by Apple Inc. as part of the iPhone series of devices. It was unveiled on March 21, 2016, at Apple's Cupertino headquarters and was released on March 31, 2016. It serves as a replacement for iPhone 5S as a lower-cost entry in the iPhone product line; combining the updated processor, rear camera, and other features from the high-end iPhone 6S with the smaller 4-inch display and nearly identical styling to the iPhone 5S, the only differences being the available colors (similar to the iPhone 6S models) and the matte chamfered edges.
The model name is a callback to the Macintosh SE, released in 1987, which had updated components in a case similar to the original Mac.
The iPhone SE is available in Silver, Space Gray, Gold, and Rose Gold finishes, and are priced at US$399 for 16 GB and US$499 for 64 GB in the United States.

Market positioning

The last major redesign of iPhone, the 4.7/5.5-inch iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, resulted in larger screen sizes. However, there were still a significant number of customers who preferred the 4-inch screen size of iPhone 5 and 5S; the 5S was the second-most popular iPhone after the 6, ahead of the 6S. Apple stated in their event that they sold 30 million 4-inch iPhones in 2015. Furthermore, the 5 and 5S design was regarded as "long been the golden child of Apple phone design and a benchmark for phones in general," while the succeeding 6 and 6S design was less critically acclaimed as it "felt a little bit wrong, as though you were holding a slick $650 bar of soap." iPhone 5 was described as "elegance rooted in the way the aluminum and glass work together. It felt streamlined, yet substantial, which is different from iPhone 6, which feels substantial in size alone. Plus, unlike the ubiquitous rounded corners of the 6, iPhone 5 didn’t really look like anything else on the market at the time."

Apple's product positioning trend (in North America and Western Europe), starting with iPhone 4S released in October 2011, gave each newly released model one year as the flagship phone, then moving it to midrange for its second year of production, with the third and final year as the entry-level offering before discontinuation. While iPhone 5S was expected to continue on sale until September 2016, replacing it and its A7 processor early means that Apple "just reduced its long-term chip support window by a year" for iOS. In addition, a new iPhone launch was meant to stimulate demand, as sales of iPhone 6S and 6S Plus had not met expectations since their September 2015 release and the iPhone family may suffer its first ever negative growth quarter in 2016.

Specifications

Design

The exterior design of the iPhone SE is nearly identical to that of the iPhone 5S, with the exception of matte-chamfered edges, and an inset stainless steel rear Apple logo. It is available in space gray, silver, gold, and rose-gold finishes. Apple stated that cases designed to fit the 5S will fit an iPhone SE, as the two phones have the exact same dimensions.

Hardware

As with the 6S, it incorporates the Apple A9 system-on-chip (SoC), M9 motion coprocessor, and has support for near field communication (NFC). iPhone SE features a 4-inch Retina Display at 326 ppi. It is available with either 16 or 64 GB of internal storage. It features the same 12 megapixel, 1.22µ pixel, iSight camera as iPhone 6S with the ability to record 720p at 240 fps, 1080p at 120 or 60 fps, and 4K at 30 fps, as well as faster focus, better ISP and Live Photos. Despite the iSight camera being shared from iPhone 6S, iPhone SE has a 1.2 megapixel FaceTime camera with f/2.4 aperture, compared to the 5 megapixel FaceTime camera with f/2.2 aperture in the 6S, although it does benefit from the improved image signal processor in the A9 chip and Retina Flash. The SE does not include 3D Touch, which would require additional hardware placed beneath the screen, nor the updated faster second-generation Touch ID sensor from the 6S. It also lacks a barometer, first introduced with the iPhone 6, which is used to measure relative elevation from air pressure.

Software

iPhone SE ships with iOS 9.3, supporting iPhone 6 and 6S-exclusive features such as Apple Pay, Live Photos, and always-on Siri voice activation.