Apple’s last “classic” iPhone release was the iPhone 8 back in 2017, with the 2016 iPhone SE (Special Edition) being the last iteration donning the iPhone 4 design language. It’s safe to say both these devices had been getting a bit long in the tooth, and there’s still plenty of people out there which loved the 4.7” form-factor – and possibly unwilling to update to the newer bigger models.

Luckily, Apple seemingly agrees that this market is worth covering, and today announced a refresh of the 2016 iPhone SE. The new 2020 special edition model takes its design cues from the iPhone 8, essentially taking it as a blueprint for the shell of the phone, and crams in the latest hardware technology that were premiered with the iPhone 11 series.

Most importantly, Apple is offering this new small fierce package at an incredible price point starting at $399, significantly cheaper than even the “lower-end” iPhone 11. The combination seems an outright winner, let’s go over the specifications:

Apple 2019-2020 iPhone Specifications
  iPhone 11 Pro iPhone 11 Pro Max iPhone 11

iPhone SE
(2020)

SoC Apple A13 Bionic

2 × Lightning Performance @ 2.66GHz
8MB L2

4 × Thunder Efficiency @ 1.73GHz
4MB L2
GPU Apple, 4 Cores
DRAM 4GB LPDDR4X ??
Display 5.8-inch OLED
2436×1125
DCI-P3/True Tone
800 cd/m² brightness
2M:1 contrast ratio
3D Touch
6.5-inch OLED
2688×1242
DCI-P3/True Tone
800 cd/m² brightness
2M:1 contrast ratio
3D Touch
6.1-inch LCD
1792×828
DCI-P3/True Tone
625 cd/m² brightness
1400:1 contrast ratio
-
4.7-inch LCD
1334×750
DCI-P3/True Tone
625 cd/m² brightness
1400:1 contrast ratio
-
Size Height 144.0 mm 158.0 mm 150.9 mm 138.4 mm
Width 71.4 m 77.8 mm 75.7 mm 67.3 mm
Depth 8.1 mm 8.1 mm 8.3 mm 7.3 mm
Weight 188 grams 226 grams 194 grams 148 grams
Battery Life 3046mAh

+14.5% capacity
"+4H vs XS"
3969mAh

+25% capacity
"+5H vs XS Max"
3110mAh

+5.7% capacity
"+1H vs XR"
??
Wireless Charging Qi
Rear Cameras Main 12 MP 1.4µm Dual Pixel PD

f/1.8, OIS

Wide Color Gamut
Quad LED True Tone Flash
12 MP 1.4µm

f/1.8, OIS

Wide Color Gamut
Quad LED True Tone Flash
Tele-
Photo
12 MP f/2.0 Telephoto, OIS
2x Optical Zoom
- -
Wide 12MP f/2.4
120° Ultra-wide Angle
-
Front Camera 12MP f/2.2 Wide Angle 7MP f/2.2
Storage 64 GB
256 GB
512 GB
64 GB
256 GB
512 GB
64 GB
128 GB
256 GB
64 GB
128 GB
256 GB
I/O Apple Lightning
Wireless (local) 802.11ax Wi-Fi with MIMO + Bluetooth 5.0 + NFC
Cellular Gigabit-class LTE-A
4x4 MIMO and LAA
Gigabit-class
LTE-A
2x2 MIMO and LAA
Gigabit-class
LTE-A
Splash, Water, Dust Resistance IP68
up to 2 meters (Pro models = 4 meters), up to 30 minutes
IP67
up to 1 meters, up to 30 minutes
Dual-SIM nano-SIM + eSIM
Launch Price 64 GB:
$999 / £1049 / 1149€

256 GB:
$1149 / £1199 / 1319€

512 GB:
$1349 / £1399 / 1549€
64 GB:
$1099 / £1149 / 1249€

256 GB:
$1249 / £1299 / 1419€

512 GB:
$1449 / £1499 / 1649€
64 GB:
$699 / £729 / 799€

128 GB:
$749 / £779 / 849€

256 GB:
$849 / £879 / 969€
64 GB:
$399 / £419 / €479

128 GB:
$449 / £469 / €529

256 GB:
$549 / £569 / €649
 

In terms of hardware, the new 2020 iPhone SE is powered by Apple’s latest A13 chip. Currently this is the most powerful and power efficient mobile chip on the market, and Apple integrating this into the new generation SE probably results in the phone packing quite a punch for its size.

Connectivity wise, it’s also on par with the iPhone 11, featuring “gigabit-class” LTE-A cellular as well as the newest WiFi 6 chipsets for better reception on crowded compatible networks.

We currently don’t have information on the DRAM configuration of the phone, but hopefully Apple doesn’t differ it too wildly from the 4GB standard setup on the iPhone 11 models.

Design-wise, the new iPhone SE should be a very familiar sight to users as it adopts the iPhone 8 design language and frame. This includes a 4.7” 1334 x 750 resolution LCD panel – which in likelihood will be the same as that found on the iPhone 8.

The form-factor nowadays would seem outright diminutive as the phone is smaller in every dimension, coming in at only 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm and weighing in only 148g. If you’ve been looking to get a smaller phone and are in the iPhone ecosystem, the new iPhone SE is the device to get.

On the camera side, the SE only has a single camera – a 12MP sensor with f/1.8 optics and OIS. This isn’t the newer generation sensor found on the iPhone 11 series as it lacks the full-sensor dual-pixel phase detection capability, so it’s likely the unit from the previous XS or iPhone 8 generation. However this doesn’t mean that picture quality will be any less, as Apple promises the phone to perform as the “best single-camera system ever in an iPhone”, and the A13’s new ISP and image processing algorithms will certainly augment the camera to be extremely competitive with what we’ve seen in the iPhone 11 series.

As the phone still features a physical home button, the preferred method of unlocking is Touch ID as the phone lacks the relevant Face ID sensor hardware. Again, iPhone users will be extremely familiar with the setup here as it’ll be essentially the same as what’s found on an iPhone 8.

A Product That Speaks For Itself - Starting At $399

All in all, the iPhone SE is a product that essentially speaks for itself. It’ll be fulfilling the nostalgia needs of users who had been apprehensive to move onto Apple’s newer “iPhone X” design iteration of phones, all whilst updating the internal hardware of the phone in order to not be left out of the generational technology improvements seen by the newest silicon.  

It also represents amongst the smallest phones on the market right now – you’d have a very hard time finding similar form-factor smartphones, let alone iPhones.

Apple’s aggressive pricing of starting at $399 for the 64GB base model is going to make this phone a runaway success, even undercutting the iPhone 8 that had been selling for $449 until now (and has now been discontinued). Even the higher storage variants at 128 and 256GB seem outright reasonable at $449 and $549, undercutting the iPhone 11 by $300. European prices start at £419 in the UK and 479€ in continental Europe – a 10% premium on top of the usual VAT margin, so not quite as an aggressive pricing scheme as in the US.

Pre-orders start this Friday, April 17th, with in-store availability next Friday, April 24th.

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  • qap - Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - link

    Don't take me wrong - it is quite possible, that I will buy one (or get one as a company phone), but how is this phone a "flagship killer"? Compared to any modern high-end phone it is hopelessly underspecced with only single bright spot - the chipset (and perhaps wireless charging). Reply
  • BedfordTim - Thursday, April 16, 2020 - link

    I would have preferred it to be thicker and have the missing telephoto and wide angle cameras. USB-C and microSD support would have made it perfect. Reply
  • close - Thursday, April 16, 2020 - link

    @qap, read it in the context of my whole statement. It's a flagship killer the same way the old OnePluses were. Remember when OnePlus was touting this motto? Back when they sold phones that had close to top performance at half the price of a flagship? Well today OP sells $1000 phones while this $400 phone offers similar performance (look at A13 vs. 865) while pretty much guaranteeing 5 years of support. The update schedule on my OP5 is erratic at best, I'm only getting about half of the released Android patches, and the phone is not even 3 years old.

    The dim spot on this phone is that it gives you no bragging rights which is what tells most other flagships apart :). Otherwise it covers 100% of the use cases for 95% of users.
    Reply
  • sorten - Thursday, April 16, 2020 - link

    I was also hoping for the smaller format, edge/edge screen. It would have been the perfect front-pocket phone.

    At this larger size it's still a very impressive phone and a decent price, but not as interesting.
    Reply
  • close - Thursday, April 16, 2020 - link

    It's cheap because they mostly recycled the iPhone 8. An edge to edge screen + FaceID would have turned it into an XR more or less, at the same $600. This is great as a company phone since it offers a direct continuation to the long-life iPhone 8, a good management framework, consistent experience, and (for me, at least) a shockingly low price.

    I'll reiterate what I wrote earlier: if 3-4 years ago someone had told me that today I'll see the front page of AT with one article on the new $1000 OnePlus and the new (and perfectly decent) $400 iPhone I would would have said it must be a joke.
    Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Friday, April 17, 2020 - link

    Yeah, would love that, too, but lowered my hopes many years ago. However this is an excellent device, top notch CPU, GPU, communication and display, acceptable formfactor and weight at an unbeatable price. Plus none of that excessive camera rubbish or Face ID rubbish. Heck, this might actually be the first new iPhone I'm buying myself (rather than the company phone I have or the second hand ones I own). Reply
  • yeeeeman - Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - link

    Coming from an Android user, this is impressive, minus the display. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - link

    I was looking for a used iphone X for my mom (around $400 for a quality one), but she doesn't like the giant phones. This is perfect for her. Reply
  • Fulljack - Wednesday, April 15, 2020 - link

    iPhone X are just a few mm bigger than iPhone 8, all less than a cm. it feels like huge because of the 5.8" screen but that's because full display on the front. Reply
  • close - Thursday, April 16, 2020 - link

    On the other hand while you gain the few mm of screen real estate with the X, you also get an older SoC which likely implies a couple of years less on future support (A11 vs. A13). That's besides the phone being used... Reply

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