Apple's 4-inch iPhone SE: First impressions of a mighty midget

I got my hands on an iPhone SE yesterday. And here’s my first impressions of the device. Stay tuned for a more detailed review of Apple’s new 4-inch smartphone.

I got my hands on an iPhone SE a few days ago. And here’s my first impressions of the device. Stay tuned for a more detailed review of Apple’s new 4-inch smartphone.

Just last week I had lost my smartphone. A 6.33-inch LeMax. It had been a while that I had been using a phablet as the term is popularly known as. I realised I was placing my phone in my back pocket more often. During longer travels, I tended to place the phone in my bag, because sitting for too long with the phone in my pocket also was getting bothersome. Irrespective of the manufacturer, it’s the sheer size I reckon.

Finally, I could lay my hands on the iPhone SE, there were a couple of thoughts that ran through my mind. Through the initial years of technology evolution, smaller was always better. Technology since the ‘90s has been about portability, miniaturisation and the likes. Things were getting smaller, better, faster and cheaper. Well even smartphones began that way. But somewhere in the past couple of years, we progressed towards 5-inch, then 6-inch, then 6-inch plus screens on smartphones. Yet, when I walked into an Apple Store in San Francisco last week, the iPhone SE was sold out!

Then comes along Apple, and announces that it is opting for a 4-inch smartphone. In fact, this small is also powerful. With a few subtle factors aside, it pretty much packs in fluidity and efficiency found in its latest flagship – iPhone 6s. Here’s a look at what stands out from the device.

Design and Build

Apple iPhone SE (5)


Coming to think of it, a 4-inch phone is in fact the most ergonomic. With minimal strain to the carpal tunnel you could reach any portion of the screen, navigate through menus select text and copy paste all at ease with one hand. Ever since I saw the device, I couldn’t help but admire the texture of the body. Combined with the matte-chamfered edges, it not only adds elegance, but also prevents the phone from slipping from your hand. Add to it, its portability, and you’re always in control of the device. In fact, I’m more confident of this device in public transport than the other smartphones I use.

Apple iPhone SE (4)

Given that it’s a smaller device, the fingerprint scanner (Touch ID as Apple refers to it) is on the front. Personally, on the larger devices I prefer the fingerprint scanner to be at the rear. On the base of the device is the speaker, lightning port and 3.5-mm audio jack. On the left hand side of the device is a mute button as well as volume buttons. The power button is on the top. To summarise the build, it’s the same iPhone 5s, but the texture feels much better.


Apple iPhone SE (2)


The iPhone SE comes with a 4-inch Retina Display. What’s interesting with the iPhone is that irrespective of the display size, you get a consistent display experience at the exact same pixel density of 326ppi. In terms of pixel resolution, the screen offers 640 x 1136 pixels. Again it’s the exact same as the iPhone 5s. Unlike the iPhone 6s, the SE doesn't come with 3D Touch. It does compensate for it with Live Photos that can be accessed by long tapping on the image clicked.

Chipset, RAM and Storage

Now here’s where the iPhone SE differs from the iPhone 5s. The innards. Yes, the SE has a stronger gut than the 5s. As a result, it can handle much more. Think of the device as the latest flagship in a small package. The device I used had 64GB memory, runs the latest iOS 9.3.

Apple iPhone SE (8)

The SE is powered by an Apple A9 64-bit processor – the same found on the iPhone 6s. In addition, it has the M9 motion coprocessor, also found on the iPhone 6s. Also, similar to the iPhone 6s, the SE comes with 2GB RAM.

OS and Connectivity

As mentioned, the iPhone SE runs iOS 9.3 off the box. And among the most interesting features I've used so far is Night Shift. After a long tiring day and travel, it felt light on the eyes while using the device before getting some sleep. In terms of connectivity you get a single nano SIM card slot, Wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and more.


Apple iPhone SE (7)

The camera is where the iPhone SE seems to have taken the best of both worlds between the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 5s. The primary camera is a 12MP autofocus camera with dual-tone flash, which is also present on the iPhone 6s. However, the front facing camera is a 1.2MP camera similar to the iPhone 5s. The difference being the SE offers an aperture of f/2.4 on the front camera compared to f/2.2 on the iPhone 5s.


The iPhone SE comes with a 1624mAh battery which seemed to have been put in place to give a consistent battery life to the device. Apple claims that it provides 10 days of standby in addition to 14 hours of 3G talktime, 13 hours of LTE and Wi-Fi internet browsing, and 12 hours on 3G. Apple also claims upto 50 hours of music playback on the iPhone SE. We will have to test these claims for ourselves when we review the phone.


The title is the result of much deliberation. The device is elegant, and desirable. But after seeing, using and working on several larger smartphones, when you see the iPhone SE, it comes across as 'tiny'. But in no way is it a slow device. It's a powerful device that has been packaged into a compact (ultra-compact) form factor. In terms of dimensions, it's definitely pocket-friendly. Potentially, users in the Indian market should also find it budget friendly over the course of the year ahead. We will soon be doing a more in-depth review of the iPhone SE, so keep checking the site.

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