The iPhone SE

Apple released a number of iterative product updates yesterday, including the 9.7″ iPad Pro1, and an iteration of the iPhone 5S: the iPhone SE (Special Edition).

This new device features the same A9 processor, 2GB of RAM and the very well reviewed back optics and imaging sensor as the iPhone 6s.

For $399.

(though it’s a little bit scammy in that they’re still pushing a 16GB device — below what anyone should buy — but then skip the optimal 32GB version, forcing you $100 up to the 64GB version at $499)

That is an insane amount of device for the money. I normally don’t post about incremental Apple product updates, but this will have a much bigger splash than the media response seems to predict. It is an outrageous value. It is a top tier device for people who prefer a smaller body.

It is going to become the “smartphone for my kid(s)” of 2016. It’s going to hurt Apple’s ASP, but will put them more into the conversation for no-contract/no-plan devices.

The screen is too small for my tastes (my daily driver right now is a Nexus 6p. I thought it would be too large but now it just seems normal, making the Nexus 5 feel almost quaintly small in comparison. Best feature of the 6p, as an aside: front facing speakers), but on the flip side the GPU power to screen resolution is so overwhelming, the thing will be absolutely market leading. Aside from the controls issue that remains a problem with all smartphones, it is a gaming colossus.

And given that many comment boards are full of people who really bought into the “Apple doesn’t care about specs” nonsense, the A9 remains market leading. It destroys my Nexus 6p. It destroys the Galaxy S7. The GPU is absurd. The CPU is outrageous. It remains the best mobile processor available. It might be underclocked on the SE (though the early benchmarks show it matching the iPhone 6S in CPU tasks, and of course beating it in on-screen GPU tasks given that it has fewer pixels to sling), but even if it were pruned 30% it would remain a leading device.

And now it’s in a $399 device. What a world. All hail competition!


1 – I added a 3rd generation iPad to the household some four years ago. With four children, their friends and visitors, and occasional parental use, it has seen many thousands of hours of use, and a ridiculous number of recharges. It is still storming strong, still works and looks great, and the battery still lasts for hours on end. Ultimately I have to peg it as the best value purchase I’ve ever made. The 9.7″ “Pro” is a tempting update.