• The new iPhone SE brings the latest Apple A13 Bionic Chip in a chassis borrowed from the iPhone 8
  • It’s a compact, powerful phone that looks slightly dated, and offers a single rear camera
  • For a starting price of Rs 42,500, the new iPhone is an affordable device compared to its siblings

Apple has done it again. Just like the original SE that came way back in 2016, the new iPhone SE is a blast from the past, hiding revamped internals in a chassis borrowed from a previous sibling. The latest smartphone from Apple evokes mixed feelings, but one can’t really deny the value it promises for potential buyers. Let’s take a closer look.

The retail box comes with the usual stuff, including some documentation, a Lightning to USB cable, a pair of wired EarPods (with Lightning connector), and a standard 5W wall charger. Do note that a Lightning to 3.5mm dongle isn’t included, and while the phone does support 18W fast charging, you’re still stuck with a slow charger unless you splurge extra and buy yourself a fast juicer of your own.

Design-wise, the new iPhone SE feels like a step back in time, all thanks to it casing that closet resembles that of the iPhone 8. The 4.7-inch IPS LCD display (features True Tone and a resolution of 1,334 x 750 pixels) feels diminutive as compared to smartphones on the Android side of the fence, which can easily go north of 6.5 inches these days. Then there are the wide bezels on the top and bottom, complete with the circular home button on the chin. It’s a design that feels extremely familiar, and also, quite dated, especially coming from one of the notch-toting, FaceID-equipped iPhones. Regardless of how you might feel about that, there’s no denying the iPhone SE is extremely compact and lightweight, and comes across as a refreshing change compared to the mammoth beasts that form the majority of the smartphone category these days. And with compactness come great ergonomics, pocketability, and one-handed use.

Apart from the capacitive home button (that also hides the TouchID fingerprint scanner), the other buttons and ports are all at their usual places too – with the left spine bearing discrete volume keys and the mute switch, the multi-functional Side key on the right, and the Lightning port and speaker at the bottom. Since the earpiece on top also functions as a speaker, the iPhone SE 2020 is able to offer stereo output.

The device body uses an aluminium frame and a glass back, offering Apple’s signature build quality. At the rear is a 12MP f/1.8 shooter – a single lens that seems a tad lonely sitting there all by itself, with just a flash to keep it company. A single camera in this day and age is another of SE’s quirks, but it’d be wrong to judge the book by its cover. We’re hoping this thing will surprise us with what it can do in terms of shooting prowess, so keep an eye for our detailed review. Up front, there’s a 7MP camera for self portraits.

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That said, the key highlight of this device is something that one can’t see from the outside. The new SE features Apple’s A13 Bionic chip, which is the same SoC that powers the iPhone 11 lineup. Not only is it the latest, most powerful mobile chipset from Apple yet, it brings with it insane processing speeds, a dedicated Neural Engine and lots of power for enabling resource-hungry applications like AR and computational photography.

The new SE features Apple’s powerful A13 Bionic chip, which is the same SoC that drives the iPhone 11 lineup

Speaking of, the iPhone SE does boast of some interesting, flagship-grade camera capabilities. It can handle 4K video recording at 60 fps, offers a portrait mode with depth control, all the portrait lighting effects (including the new High-Key Mono), OIS, Smart HDR, and cinematic video stabilisation, with many of the advanced features available for the front camera as well.

Software-wise, you get iOS 13, the latest refresh of Apple’s mobile OS, complete with its vast ecosystem of apps, games and services. In fact, the Cupertino giant is bundling a year’s worth of free access to Apple TV+, the company’s new streaming service, with the new iPhone SE.

That’s not all – there are some other noteworthy features too. As mentioned earlier, the SE 2020 supports 18W fast charging, which requires you to spend extra on a fast charging adapter and a Type-C to Lightning cable. And just like the iPhone 11 series, the SE 2020 features an eSIM (apart from a slot that accepts a single nano-SIM), enabling dual-SIM usage. The phone even supports wireless charging, and thanks to its IP67 rating, is resistant to water and dust too. In fact, this phone might even be the most affordable phone currently to offer wireless charging and an IP rating, and this is quite interesting, given that it’s a new iPhone we’re talking about here.

The new iPhone SE is available in black, white and Product Red editions, and for a starting price of Rs 42,500 for the base (64GB) variant, translates into great value for anyone looking for a new iPhone. That said, in that price range, it’ll need to contend with loaded Android-powered rivals that offer multiple cameras and large, high-resolution displays bearing high refresh rates. Watch out for our review to know how the SE 2020 fares and whether it’s worth your hard-earned money or not.