Technophile

iPhone SE 2020: Endearingly small, enduringly powerful

Mala Bhargava | Updated on June 02, 2020 Published on June 02, 2020

iPhone SE 2020

This little device costs upward of Rs 42,000

Having grown accustomed to giant Android phones, I honestly did not know what to expect from the sweetly small iPhone SE 2020. My first reaction was, when I first held it in my hand, was “How cute”. This was followed closely by marvelling at the slim lightness of the device.

With its pristine white exteriors, (the other colours are red and black), the phone looks neat and Apple-esque. It was lovely to hold on to as well.

But this little gadget costs upward of Rs 42,000. In fact, if you were to pay half the price in the Android world, you would get so much more, in a sense.

So I decided to acquire inputs from those who don’t necessarily want what Android offers and would willingly buy the new iPhone SE.

That included a user of the original iPhone SE from 2017, who thinks he might upgrade in a year or two.

Small and sweet

iPhone SE 2020

By now it would be hard to find smartphones with a 4.7 inch retina display. Most people want enough screen space to feast on videos as well as movies. They would also like a canvas to see their photos and selfies in all their glory.

You do get screens that border on 7 inches-range for the price of this little iPhone. But as it turns out, the Apple SE 2020's small size its so desirable, that it’s worth certain the trade-offs. It’s wonderful to hold on to during long calls, it can be managed single-handedly, and cozily slips into a pocket. For someone who’s used the 4-inch original SE or an iPhone 8, the SE 2020 is fine.

Overall, the SE 2020 has the exact body of the iPhone 8 and can even take its cases.

Screen scenario

If you haven’t used an Android phone with a big screen, you don’t miss it. But for those who are aware of the other advantages those screens offer, it does seem disappointing to see the big bezels on the iPhone SE 2020, seeming to gobble up half the real estate available. If only Apple had found a way to do away with those, it would have been rather nice. The SE’s screen is LCD and not an AMOLED. So it isn’t as bright and 'contrasty' as others. But again, customers who want the SE don’t necessarily care as much, going by the inputs we got. The SE’s screen does in fact still look nice and certainly not anything like the old LCD displays you’d get on cheap or dated Android phones. 

The SE 2020’s screen has big bezels that doesn’t mean it’s housing the True-Depth camera on the other recent series of iPhones. It will not give you a Face ID, which actually works very fast. You will have to use the Touch ID on the big round Home button, which makes a come back on this device. Many users like the feel of that Home button and will actually welcome it, though. 

Big brains, small body

The most remarkable feature of the iPhone SE 2020 is that it runs on the A13 Bionic chip, which is present on the top iPhone 11 Pro line-up. It may not have more than 3GB RAM but it works smoothly and can handle processor heavy tasks like video editing, gaming and AR without slowing down. While Android phones outdo the little SE in many ways such as screen size, battery, charging, storage, etc there is no doubt that it’s the smallest phone to have a top level flagship processor. It also runs the same software as the top-end iPhone. It is expected to get updates and keep up with it for the next few years. That’s one important reason behind why fans of this little phone still want it — they expect longevity that outlasts the average Android phone. 

Camera

The A13 chip is also contributing to how the single rear 12MP and single front cameras perform. The SE’s cameras give nice results in ideal lighting conditions, especially with its enhanced and photo processing feature.

Some of the camera's essential features - details, white balance, dynamic range - are good even though extras like a wide angle, telephoto or macro lens are missing on this device.

The chip, present in the phone's camera, enables one to use do background blurring. The camera also includes some of the interesting Portrait mode features - available on other iPhones, for example - studio lighting effects, high key mono effect etc.

The camera's 'Portrait' mode works for people but not objects. The 7MP front camera also has these features. A lot of work is being done by the software, but it’s doing a good job of it. You even have OIS for smooth videos. What you don’t have is a special feature for low light photography.

A baby of a battery 

The battery in the SE 2020 is said to be 1,821mAh, less than anything Android phones worth Rs 5,000 come with. Battery life may be acceptable, but how long can a tiny battery last? Using the phone a lot will probably mean having to top it up during the day as well.

For 'light-users' of the device would like this device, as they would need to re-charge the battery only once in 24 hours. One premium feature is that it supports wireless charging. The charger in the box is a 5-Watt charger and that’s very ungenerous considering it does support a 15watt charger and could have had one. It seems a bit paradoxical to have given this phone the most powerful chip but not that much battery to run it with.

 

The iPhone SE has IP67 water resistance, so it can be submerged in water for up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. If it falls into a monsoon puddle, it should survive the ordeal. But it doesn’t have the 3.5mm stereo jack, USB-C, two regular SIM slots or a memory card slot on top of its 64GB storage. Or 128GB if you opt for the higher variant.

Despite what’s missing, the previous SE had its avid fans and Apple believes the new version will as well, being as it is a combination of an older loved design on the outside and updated interiors.

In fact, Apple says this has been about the most popular size of all its phones.

If only it was cheaper!

In the US, the device is $400 which is approximately Rs 30,000. Yet, with the help of duties and god knows what else, the starting price in India is Rs 42,500. Luckily, the phone is available at lower rates, depending on where you buy and the special offers. While it’s still expensive, many would argue that it’s the most affordable iPhone you can buy. 

Price: Rs 42,500, Rs 47,800, Rs 58,300

Pros: Powerful A13 Bionic chip, comfortable to hold, updated camera, newest Apple software with expected longevity, IP67 rated, wireless charging

Cons: Dated body, battery runs out fast, no 18W charger, no case, limited colour options, low res display, still expensive despite being most affordable iPhone

Published on June 02, 2020
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