Today at Apple’s “In the Loop” event in Cupertino, vice president of iOS, iPad, and iPhone product marketing Greg Joswiak took the stage to announce the long awaited update to Apple’s 4-inch iPhone line. Clearly the descendant of the iPhone 5s, the new iPhone SE comes in a very similar form factor, but now packs nearly the same power and feature set as Apple’s flagship iPhone 6s.
The iPhone SE runs the same 64-bit Apple A9 processor and M9 motion co-processor as the 6s. According to Apple, the SE runs twice as fast as the iPhone 5s and has three times higher GPU performance. The updated processors mean the SE has the hands-free “Hey Siri” feature enabled even when the device is not connected to a charger. Notably, the device now comes in Apple’s Rose Gold color finish, and I’d say it’s the nicest looking Rose Gold device they’ve made yet.
The camera on the iPhone SE is a 12-megapixel iSight camera with Apple’s Focus Pixel technology and True Tone flash. The updated camera, not surprisingly, means the iPhone SE has all the same camera features as the iPhone 6s, including Live Photos, 63-megapixel panoramas, the ability to shoot 4K video, 240 fps slo-mo, and time-lapse and cinematic video stabilization.
The SE also boasts LTE up to 50% faster than the iPhone 5s, and more LTE bands for better global data roaming. It has high-speed Wi-Fi up to three times faster than the iPhone 5s, and Wi-Fi calling capabilities. The iPhone SE also marks the introduction of Apple Pay to Apple’s 4-inch lineup.
Pricing and Availability
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the iPhone SE is its price. The iPhone SE sits at the most inexpensive introductory price ever for an iPhone with the latest and greatest features, cameras, and chipset. While sadly (although not unexpectedly), the base model remains at 16 GB, that device is available starting at $399 for an unlocked model. If you go through Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, that price translates to only $17/month for a 16 GB iPhone SE. Carrier plans will get customers an iPhone SE free with a two year contract, or for even less than $17/month for monthly plans (the exact cost varies by carrier).
Pushing that price point even further into impulse-buy territory, Apple also offers to lower monthly prices further with the iPhone Trade-in program. Customers who trade in an iPhone 5s or higher can get an iPhone SE for as little as $10/month on Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program. Even iPhone 4 or 4s trade-ins will still pull the price down to $14/month.
For customers living in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the UK, US Virgin Islands and the US, preorders for the iPhone SE begin this Thursday, March 24, with availability starting a week later on March 31. The device will be available in 110 other countries by the end of May.
With all the features and power of the iPhone 6s packed into a smaller 5s-style body, the iPhone SE brings the 4-inch iPhone back to the cutting edge of Apple technology. For fans of the 4-inch form factor, whose hopes have been dwindling after years of their phones marching ever closer to obsolescence, Apple has finally answered their pleas. For now, at least, the 4-inch iPhone lives on.