The Apple iPhone SE — Features and Cost Compared

On March the 21st 2016 Apple shocked the mobile world and baffled consumers worldwide when it announced the iPhone SE a soon to be launched budget handset. Considered to be a backward step in the minds of many consumers and critics, many suggested it had the potential to be as big a mistake as they had previously considered the iPhone 5C to be.

However, nearly a month on from the announcement, with more information about the phone available, and with 1-million handsets sold in its first ten days, we are going to tell you why Apple felt the need for a new iPhone, talk about its specifications, compare it against previous models of the iPhone, and find out just how much of a budget handset the new iPhone really is with some contract comparisons and sim-free prices.

Why Launch the iPhone SE?

Apple is what it is today thanks to its customers; without their hard-earned money, Apple and the iPhone would probably be as defunct as Nokia in a mobile technology sense!

According to industry watcher and trends analysis firm Mixpanel, between 2007 and October 2015 Apple sold a staggering 800-million iPhones. Of those 800-million, a third, or 266-million handsets, are early models with 4-inch displays.


So why an iPhone SE? Apple regards the third of users with smaller screened handsets as potential repeat customers, to whom they already have direct access . If those consumers prefer smaller iPhones, but would also prefer to own one with the latest version of iOS, better processor, increased storage and improved camera technology, then the iPhone SE is the right choice for them and the correct commercial decision for Apple.

iPhone SE Specifications

Many industry critics and insiders are calling the iPhone SE the mighty mouse of the iPhone line up. Apple itself is using the tag line “The most powerful 4-inch phone ever”, but somehow that just does not sound believable especially when considering this is just a marketer’s tagline aimed at making consumers spend their money.

Packing a 4-inch display, this device has the look and feel of the iPhone 5S and punches above its weight with some impressive specs under the hood. Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of iPhone marketing, recently said,

"It's on the inside where the iPhone SE really shines It has advanced technologies that make this the most powerful four-inch phone ever."


Let’s have a look at its specifications to see, just how powerful it is:

  • 4.0 inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, touchscreen with 326 ppi pixel density
  • iOS 9.3, Apple A9 Chipset
  • Dual-core 1.84 GHz Twister CPU, PowerVR GT7600 GPU
  • Internal memory 16/64GB, 2GB RAM
  • 12MP rear facing camera, autofocus, dual-LDE flash, 4K video
  • 1.2MP front facing camera, face detection, facetime over Wi-Fi
  • Fingerprint sensor, Apple Pay, Bluetooth, NFC
  • Non-removable Li-po 1642 mAh battery
  • Weight 113 grams, 7.6mm thick

iPhone SE , iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s Compared

The following table compares the iPhone SE specifications against those of the 5S and iPhone 6.

Features iPhone SE iPhone 6 iPhone 5s
Display 4-inches 326 ppi 4.7 inches 326 ppi 4.0 inches 326 ppi
Processor Dual-core 1.84 GHz Dual-core 1.4 GHz Dual-core 1.3 GHz
Operating System iOS 9.3 Upgradable to iOS 9.3 Upgradable to iOS 9.3
Rear Camera 12 Mega-pixel 8 Mega-Pixel 8 Mega-Pixel
Front Camera 1.2 Mega-Pixel 1.2 Mega-Pixel 1.2 Mega-Pixel
Video Recording 4K Video recording 1080p Video recording 1080p Video recording
Internal Memory 16/64GB - 2GB RAM 16/64/128GB -1GB RAM 16/32/64GB - IGB RAM
Battery Li-Po 1642 mAh Li-Po 1810 mAh Li-Po 1560 mAh
Fingerprint Sensor Yes Yes Yes
Apple Pay Yes Yes No
Weight 113 grams 129 grams 112 grams
Thickness 7.6mm 6.9mm 7.6mm

The new iPhone is not a huge leap in technology, basically it is today’s tech in yesterday’s iPhone 5s body. There’s a noticeable leap iin camera technology, with the SE incorporating a 12-megapixel camera and able to record 4K video. In this respect it leaves the two older handsets behind, both of which carry 8-Megapixel cameras.  

As a business move on the part of Apple, the launch of this new iPhone could prove to be a great idea. The fact that it offers some improvement over older tech may matter enough to some of the 266-million older iPhone users around the world to make them upgrade. The release also stands in opposition to new releases from Samsung, LG, and HTC, all of whom have released devices with 5-inch or larger screens on their premium devices in recent months.

With some reflection yes, it’s a new iPhone, but it is not Apple’s best ever new iPhone, is it? It could be considered to be a small iPhone that is an improvement over the 5S! 


How much, and where from, in the UK?

Do you want one? If you’re an iPhone 5S, 5 or even a 4S owner you will undoubtedly see a huge performance increase with the iPhone SE! However, the big question is where can you get one?

And oh yes, the BIG-BIG question ...  how much is it to buy? Well I’m sorry to say, if it was a budget iPhone you wanted, then the iPhone SE certainly isn’t it! Prices to buy the handset outright with no contract so a simfree handset, start at £359 for the 16GB and £439 for the 64GB variation at the Carphone Warehouse.

The good news is.... if spending hundreds of pounds on a smartphone all at once is not an option, it is also available to own on pay monthly contract.

Have a look at the table below for examples of pay monthly contracts offered by UK networks. We have focused on tariffs which have no upfront cost for the handset and cost between £29.99 and £33.00 per month over 24 months. (Click the Network names to be taken to their respective tariffs)

Networks Phone Cost Monthly Minutes Texts Data
EE £0.00 £29.99 500 Unlimited 1GB
Three £0.00 £31.00 Unlimited Unlimited 1GB
O2 £0.00 £33.00 Unlimited Unlimited 1GB
Vodafone £49.00 £29.00 1000 Unlimited 1GB
VirginMedia £0.00 £30.00 Unlimited Unlimited 2GB


The iPhone SE, like the iPhone 6S, handset comes in silver, gold, space gray and Rose gold colour variations. 

Final Thoughts

Who is it for?  With a starting price of £359 it is the least expensive iPhone ever! Furthermore with the same design as the iPhone 5s the same feel and all the buttons in the same place, it would have to be purchased by either a disillusioned Android user or someone seeking to upgrade from an older pre-5s iPhone.

As far as performance is concerned, it is certainly the battery where people holding out with small iPhone's will see the most improvement. Some reviewers have suggested that it could last for as long as a full day with moderate use.

For more information, check out the reviews on CNET and video reviews on YouTube etc.

If you decide to go SIM free and purchase the phone outright, make sure you’re on the right plan with the best value for your usage – check out KillBiller as an app to find the best tariff.