iPhone SE


Released in March, the new iPhone SE is being marketed as Apple's affordable model (but don't get too excited - it will still set you back around £300).

The most startling departure is in the size: the SE screen stretches 4.0 inches across, rather than the standard 4.7 we have become accustomed to (the extra 0.7 inches probably makes a bigger difference than you expect, so make sure you take one for a test drive before parting with your cash). On the plus side, this relieves some of the burden on the battery, meaning it should hold out a little longer before it needs to be plugged in.

In many quarters, the iPhone SE has been described as a clone of the iPhone 5, released a few years earlier (if you put them side by side there is practically no difference in their physical appearance). This is not altogether true, because the SE borrows the upgraded processor used in subsequent releases. This means it's quicker and more efficient with power (although once again, the smaller screen certainly helps).

For a supposedly streamlined phone, the 12 MP rear camera is a mightily impressive one (there is also an obligatory 2 MP front camera for selfies). This is same level of quality you will get with the monstrous iPhone 6s, although it lacks the latter's image stabilisation features (which, to be honest, won't make much difference unless you are really serious about photography).

In terms of software, Apple have generously packed the SE with the same features of the iPhone 6s. The Apple Pay service is there if you are prepared to take a leap into the future (and deal with the inevitable bugs that come with it), as it is the upgraded Siri help tool. You're essentially getting the best of iOS 9.3 - albeit without necessarily having all the hardware needed to make the most out of it.

Regardless, there will be a nagging sense among users that they are buying a product set to go out of date within a matter of months (the iPhone 7 is just around the corner, and it is unlikely Apple will be feeling charitable enough to support backward compatibility on their upgraded features).

Our verdict

In short, Apple's new SE probably functions best as a "gateway" smart-phone for those who have previously been using an older mobile (or one of the more stripped down Android models). It's a smart piece of kit: the software is as up to date as it gets, the camera is exemplary, and it's super quick - which is a big bonus if you've become accustomed to laggy operating systems.

But it's not going to satisfy hardcore Apple fans, because there's simply nothing new (literally nothing). If you fall into the latter category, it's probably best to wait a few months and invest in the iPhone 7.

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