If there’s one iPhone I would pick as the perfect blend of form and function, it would be the iPhone 8. The iPhone 5 with its Industrial design comes close but as I discovered with the 2016 iPhone SE, the 4-inch screen does have its limitations. It’s why the second-generation iPhone SE might be a clever move from Apple at a time when our smartphone usage has been completely altered, courtesy COVID-19. For most users, the assurance of Apple’s privacy protection and devices that age gracefully with assured iOS updates for half a decade might be all the iPhone they need. The iPhone SE is aimed at such users.
The real story is under the hood. The 2020 SE is propelled by Apple’s best-of-breed A13 Bionic processor. The SE’s performance benchmark scores and gaming experience is very close to the iPhone 11 trio that are also powered by the same processor. It’s not just the buttery smooth user experience, this chip also impacts camera performance with computational photography. The 12MP rear lens (f/1.8 aperture) sharp images and 4K videos. I found it tough to tell between the SE and the 11 Pro in images shot in ideal lighting conditions. You also get all the six portrait lighting modes and depth control. These modes are also available on the 7MP selfie cam. While images are terrific in ambient light, the SE is no match for the night mode on the 11 trio. There’s no ultra-wide lens too but that might not be a deal-breaker for most users.
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In terms of design, it’s impossible to tell the new SE apart from the iPhone 8. There’s one small change; the Apple logo on the rear moves to the centre. The SE comes with an elegant glass back and feels great in your hands. It’s over 20% lighter than the iPhone 11 Pro and you don’t need two hands to use this device. That’s one of the most satisfying things about a design that turns back to the clock to a time when devices were less clunky. The big bezels and the smaller 4.7-inch display could be a trade-off for some users. Colours are vibrant on the Retina HD display with True Tone (750 x 1334 pixels) that packs 326 pixels per inch (PPI). If you play Netflix catch-up on your smartphone, you might be better off with one of the larger iPhone 11 devices. Most Apple die-hards still miss the home key, their default option when they’re lost. It’s back and so is TouchID, Apple’s efficient fingerprint sensor. A practical option if you have to keep unlocking your phone with a face mask.
The iPhone SE may not compare favourably with devices in the sub Rs 50,000 price band on a few fronts – the large bezels look out of place. And then there’s the battery life. I barely managed a full day with some camera usage and about 45 minutes of catching up on videos. But it’s the brilliant blend of the iOS experience with a formidable processor that makes it a compelling proposition. This isn’t just a budget iPhone; it might be all the iPhone most people seek.
The iPhone SE is available in three colours – white, black and (PRODUCT) RED and three storage variants – 64GB/Rs 42,500, 128GB/Rs 47,800 and 256 GB/Rs 58,300. There’s a Rs 3,600 instant discount on HDFC credit and debit cards.
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