In March Apple launched a 4-inch iPhone. It’s called the iPhone SE and Apple managed to put a few of the major specifications from its current generation flagship, the iPhone 6s, into the device’s smaller frame. What makes a high-end flagship what it is today is the same thing it was many years ago: a laundry list of specifications that are all premium on their own, but when combined put together a borderline ridiculous device.
The HTC 10, the LG G5, the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, and whatever other flagships get launched this year all share plenty of similarities. Powerful processors, plenty of RAM, noteworthy cameras, well-designed frames, high resolution displays, and plenty of other specs that make it worth the high price tag.
One can’t argue that the iPhone SE does indeed boast plenty of the same specifications that are present in the iPhone 6s, which was launched near the end of 2015. It has the same processor, the same rear camera, and it features things like Touch ID for extra security, and NFC built in to support Apple Pay. When compared to the iPhone 5c, the iPhone SE is a grand slam.
However, it’s also not possible to argue that Apple made some changes that pull the flagship banner away from their new 4-inch iPhone.
While it has Touch ID, it’s running an old sensor inside the unit so that it’s not as quick and responsive as Touch ID in the iPhone 6s/6s Plus. The front-facing camera is barely up to par. It rehashes the same design, exactly, as the iPhone 5s — which the company launched for the first time back in 2013. The display is still a Retina panel, by definition, but it doesn’t boast any of the same advanced technology that’s present in the iPhone 6s. There’s no 3D Touch, for example.
Apple had to make some cuts here and there, and all of that was done probably for two big reasons. The first, to make sure that the iPhone 6s was still the company’s flagship. And two, to keep the price down. When it comes to the latter, the iPhone SE is still not the “cheap iPhone” so many people want, but it does at least identify that Apple can still make a worthwhile handset with a price tag that isn’t ridiculous right out of the gate.
I think Apple did a lot of things right with the iPhone SE, especially with the specs they chose to bring over and the price tag, but I can understand why some folks out there feel disillusioned by it. The 4-inch iPhone SE isn’t a flagship 4-inch phone. It’s close in a lot of ways, but it doesn’t win the title.
But I want to reach out to both camps here. I want to hear from the folks who bought the iPhone SE and kept it, use it every day, and love it — but can admit that there might be something they would change if given the opportunity. Or what they want to see in the next iteration. And I also want to hear from the folks who were planning on buying the 4-inch iPhone, but ultimately decided not to. Why did you opt-out? What could Apple change to get you to come back? Let me know!