Apple iPhone SE: Everything you need to know

Alex Kidman 22 March 2016

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Apple has formally announced the Apple iPhone SE. Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s latest handset, including Australian pricing and availability.

Apple was widely expected to announce a new smaller iPhone model, called the iPhone SE at its March launch event today, and that's precisely what it has done. The iPhone SE doesn't set out to wildly reinvent the iPhone experience, instead bringing the processing power of the iPhone 6s to a smaller form factor.

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Quick facts about the Apple iPhone SE

Just want the basics? Here’s the short and sweet details on Apple’s newest handset:

  • Smaller screen, same power: The iPhone SE runs on the A9 chip found in the iPhone 6s, and Apple's claim is that it has the same essential processing power as its larger sibling for a slightly reduced price.
  • Same rear camera, smaller selfie camera: The iPhone SE will feature the same 4K-capable 12MP camera as the iPhone 6s, but at the front it uses a 1.2MP camera instead
  • Apple Pay compatible: To date, only American Express has launched in Australia with Apple Pay, but the inclusion of NFC in the iPhone SE means that it will work with Apple's digital wallet.

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How much will the Apple iPhone SE cost?

Apple Australia's announced pricing for the Apple iPhone SE is $679 for the 16GB model and $829 for the 64GB model. Pre-sales commence on 24 March 2016 with delivery on 31 March 2016.

At the launch, Apple announced US contract pricing starting at $US17 per month. We're yet to see Australian contract pricing for the iPhone SE, but it's no great guess to suggest you won't be able to score an iPhone SE on contract for that much. Bear in mind, however, that the US contract setup for phones is quite radically different from the Australian model, and at least for this launch Apple did disclose outright pricing rather than just listing contract pricing for US customers.

That being said, Apple Australia's pricing for the iPhone SE isn't particularly generous compared to its US outright cost. In the US, the two storage variants of the iPhone SE cost $US399 and $US499 respectively. At current conversion rates, and taking GST into account, because US list prices never list sales taxes due to variance between states, that should equate to around $577 for the 16GB model and $722 for the 64GB model. Instead, Apple Australia will charge $679 for the 16GB model and $829 for the 64GB model.

Apple doesn’t tend to vary pricing on iPhone handsets until a new model comes along, so that comparative pricing may become more or less equitable over time depending on the value of the Australian dollar.

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What’s new in the Apple iPhone SE?

The big factor for the iPhone SE is that it’s not actually all that big. While the current "hero" iPhone models, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus feature 4.7 and 5.5 inch displays respectively, the iPhone SE is a relative tiddler with a screen measuring in at only 4 inches.

The core idea here is that it’s the iPhone model for those who don’t like larger handsets in their pockets; a throwback to the screen sizes that Apple used for iPhone 5 models, but with the essential processing power of the iPhone 6s, as distinct from the now retired iPhone 5s model.

iPhoneSE_3The iPhone SE's camera is likely to be something of a mixed matter. At the rear, it uses the same 12MP camera as the iPhone 6s with the capability for live photos and 4K video shooting, although viewing that quality of video on a screen that's only 4 inches wide is a touch on the ridiculous side. On the front, while the iPhone SE has the "Retina Flash" capability of newer iPhones, it makes do with a 1.2MP camera, which means that your selfies are really only going to be good for web display and unlikely to be much good for print if that matters to you.

The iPhone SE gets Apple's latest TouchID sensor for quick unlocking and paying via Apple Pay and for iTunes store purchases, again in an essentially similar fashion to the iPhone 6s. It's the same story with the iPhone SE's speakers as well; this is basically an iPhone 6s boiled down small.

iPhone SE Specifications

DeviceApple iPhone SE
Screen size4in
Storage16/64GB
Weight113g
ProcessorApple A9?
Rear camera12MP
Front camera1.2MP
BatteryLithium Ion, "up to" 13 hours 4G LTE
Resolution1136x640
Display density326ppi
Price$679/$829

Should I buy the iPhone SE?

It’s not true to say that Apple’s never played in the lower cost market before; while it talked up "choice" as the reasoning behind the iPhone 5c, pretty much everyone viewed it as just the "cheaper plastic" iPhone model.

On a more ongoing basis, as new iPhone models have emerged, the previous year’s model has typically been offered up as the "budget" iPhone model, albeit usually with a restricted range of storage capacities. The iPhone SE replaces the iPhone 5s in Apple's low-cost range -- that's low cost relative to the rest of Apple's output -- but if you're quick you could theoretically pick up an iPhone 5s while stock is still available.

So how do the low-cost models compare?

DeviceApple iPhone SEApple iPhone 6Apple iPhone 5s
Screen size4in4.7in4in
Storage16/64GB16/64GB16/32GB
Weight113g129g112g
ProcessorApple A9Apple A8Apple A7
Rear camera12MP8MP8MP
Front camera1.2MP1.2MP1.2MP
BatteryLithium Ion, "up to" 13 hours 4G LTE1810mAh1560mAh
Resolution1136x640750x1334640 x 1136
Display density326ppi326ppi326ppi
Pricing$679/$829$929/$1079$749/$829

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