iPhone SE (2016) Review

Although Apple released the iPhone SE 2 in 2020, the 1st Gen iPhone SE from 2016 is still a popular device with lots going for it. In our in-depth review, we take a look at the original iPhone Special Edition and why it still holds up today. 

Last updated: 5th Oct 2020 at 12:11pm

What is the iPhone SE?

The iPhone SE was released in March 2016 as a compact, good-value alternative to the iPhone 7. 

Nowadays, the 1st Generation remains one of the last small smartphones in Apple’s ever-expanding family of devices. It has been hailed as a good option for people who don’t enjoy the larger screen sizes of the newer releases. 

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find the original iPhone SE, as Apple have ceased production and instead push the 2020 version.

Despite its scarcity, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t automatically disregard the original version.

Cost

The iPhone SE is probably Apple’s cheapest handset to date, perfect for people who want all the benefits on an Apple phone, but without the high price tag.

If you find a refurbished SE, you can grab one for £100 or less upfront. You may find cheaper deals across different network providers if you shop around. 

A new SE phone, or one that comes with a good deal, could set you back around £300-400, or around £30 per month.

If you pair the phone with one of Asda Mobile’s affordable bundles, you can enjoy all the benefits of an Apple device without the hefty price tag.

Design

Apple phones all carry a similar, sleek aesthetic design. The SE doesn’t stray from the soft-curved, middle-buttoned appearance. It is nearly identical to the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S, so many iPhone 5 cases will fit the SE phone. 

Dimensions

The iPhone SE was designed with portability in mind. Its exact dimensions are as follows:

Height: 4.97 inches

Width: 2.31 inches

Weight: 113g / 3.99 oz

The SE is slightly thicker and heavier than its predecessors, due to its glass front and aluminium back.

Screen

The Special Edition is a small, compact phone. With a 4-inch screen size, it could be the perfect scale for some users, and too miniscule for others. Younger people may prefer the smaller screen for its easy usage, or simple portability.

Display

The iPhone SE has a pixel resolution of 1136 x 640. With a Retina Display and an LED backlight, it offers users a bright, clear picture.

Colour

The SE comes in four colours: Space Grey, Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold. 

Camera

The photographic ability of a phone is relatively important in this day and age. With photos and videos ruling our modern day lives, a good camera is a necessity on any mobile device you’re considering to buy. With the iPhone SE (2016) you’re getting the following:

Front Camera: 1.2MP, 720p video recording

Rear Camera: 12.2MP, 4K video recording at 30fps, 1080p at 30/60fps, slow motion video at 1080p at 120fps / 720p at 240fps

The iPhone SE can capture speedy footage, such as a bird in flight, thanks to its slow-motion video mode.

In good lighting, the phone can produce solid, well-contrasted images, but suffers slightly in low light due to the lack of a stabilisation feature. Some darker images may come out blurrier as a result. 

If you want a handset that can capture incredible photos no matter the circumstances, check out our guide on the best camera phones.

Storage

The 2016 iPhone SE is available with 16GB, 32GB 64GB or 128GB of storage. Like with all iPhones, there’s unfortunately no SD card slot to expand your storage capabilities.

How you use your phone will dictate whether those storage sizes are spacious enough for you.

If you like downloading apps, storing multiple videos, and thousands of photos, you’ll need to pick a larger storage size, like 64GB or 128GB. 

But if you’re an average phone user with a couple hundred photos, just a few videos and a generous amount of apps, then 32GB or 64GB will offer plenty of space.

16GB tends to be too small for most people nowadays. 

Check out our guide to discover how much storage you really need.  

Battery

The iPhone SE only has a 1624 mAh battery life, which is definitely a lot smaller compared to the majority of phones on the market today. 

The 1624 mAh battery can last for around 13-14 hours of talk time, 12-13 hours of internet usage, and up to 50 hours of audio. 

When you add in battery-draining activities like streaming, the 1684 mAh might not take you very far. However, there are some things you can do to make your battery last longer

Verdict

So is this iPhone the one for you?

The main perks of the iPhone SE are its small, travel-friendly size, its clear and impressive camera quality, its decent-sized battery, and, above all, its affordable price tag. 

If you’re looking for a cheap phone, and willing to sacrifice some of the grander features of newer releases, the SE could definitely be on your list. 

Don’t like the sound of the iPhone SE (2016), but still want to be part of the iPhone family? Decide which iPhone is right for you or eagerly await the release of the newest iPhone-12.  

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