Apple didn’t come up with a new design for the smaller iPhone SE. Instead, they’ve reused the old iPhone 5s with new internals. It’s an odd move, which we witness for the first time – it’s like reusing the same looks of a phone model third generation in a row. And that from the company, that practically invented the two-year phone redesign cycle.

One way to interpret this move is to conclude Apple is taking the easy road and is merely recycling an existing chassis design to produce a lower-cost iPhone without hurting margins. Another possible interpretation is that they are reviving an iconic iPhone 5 design in an attempt to cater to a group of users who not only want a cheaper iPhone but would also prefer the smaller form factor. After all, a third of Apple users are still using older 4-inch smartphones.

The jury is still out on which one of these two might be the reasoning for this model, but whichever it is, we’re not here to judge. This task would be up to Apple customers. Our job is only to evaluate how good the latest iPhone is and we intend to do just that.

But first thing’s first – here’s a refresher on the specs. The iPhone SE has the 4″ Retina display of the iPhone 5s, its first-gen Touch ID sensor, an identical chassis, but on the inside, it comes with the new Apple A9 chip with 2GB of RAM, the new 12MP main snapper, and a slightly bigger battery.

Key features

  • 4″ 16M-color LED-backlit IPS LCD of 640 x 1136px resolution, 326ppi
  • Apple iOS 9
  • Dual-core 1.8 GHz Twister 64-bit CPU, PowerVR GT7600 GPU, 2GB of RAM, Apple A9 SoC
  • 12MP F/2.2 camera with True tone LED flash, phase detection auto focus, [email protected], [email protected], @60fps and @120fps video recording, 720p video recording @120fps and 240fps
  • 1.2MP F/2.4 front-facing camera, HDR mode, [email protected] video
  • Comes in 16 and 64 GB of built-in storage
  • First-gen Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • 4G LTE Cat.4 (150Mbps); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 4.2; Lightning port; GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS; NFC (Apple Pay only)
  • 1,624 mAh battery, Power saving mode
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Main disadvantages

  • No 3D Touch
  • No microSD slot
  • Lacks optical image stabilization
  • NFC functionality limited to Apple Pay
  • No wireless charging, an infrared port, or FM radio
  • No enhanced resistance to liquids or dust
  • No user-replaceable battery

Apple’s restrictions have been around for years, so they shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone – you can’t have expandable memory, fast or wireless charging, FM radio, swappable batteries, among others. The new 3D Touch tech isn’t present either for obvious reasons though you can still capture Live Photos.

Apple iPhone SE review

The iPhone SE has this nice nostalgic feeling of the good old iPhones when they were always shaking the market, and its compact size and powerful hardware will be appreciated by many. It will hardly attract any new users to Apple’s platform, but will allow those who are stuck in the past to level up.