Apple returns to the midrange with second generation iPhone SE… and we dig it

Apple has a reputation for pushing the envelope for premium smartphones, so the arrival of the second generation iPhone SE is something of a surprise. This new model follows on from 2018’s iPhone 8, and the original 2016 iPhone SE, taking the brand back into the bustling midrange. With a list price of just £419 ($400), it hopes to elbow out some of the biggest players in the field, including Google, OnePlus, Honor and Oppo.

The timing couldn’t be more appropriate, as the disposable income of potential buyers shrinks amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The arrival of this SE model also allows Apple to take advantage of Huawei’s shrinking presence in an area it was appearing to dominate. This could well be the most important phone Apple launches in 2020.

Much like its antecedent, the new model sports a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, now with support for Dolby Vision and HDR10 video playback (so it should make for a great movie screen on the move), with a power boost coming from Apple’s high speed A13 Bionic chip, first introduced on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. 

That said, this smaller screen goes against the trend for larger displays, which could be a deal breaker for some. 

The iPhone SE 2020 sports a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, with support for Dolby Vision video playback…

The iPhone SE picks up where the iPhone 8 left off

Style wise we get an aerospace-grade aluminium and glass design, with an all-black front. On the rear glass there’s a centred Apple logo, crafted using a seven-layer colour process we’re told.

Features include Wi-Fi 6 support and wireless-charging compatible with Qi-certified chargers. Using fast-charging you should be able to get a 50 per cent refill in 30 minutes. 

The single-camera system coupled to the powerful processor looks promising. The 12-megapixel f/1.8 aperture wide camera relies on signal processing (rather than more glass) to deliver Portrait mode, Lighting effects and Depth Control. It also utilizes Smart HDR, said to intelligently re-light subjects for more natural-looking images, that’s to say better balance highlights with shadow detail.

Single camera system boosted by A13 Bionic chip

Video makers should also like the prospect of cinematic video stabilisation on the front and rear cameras. The rear camera supports video capture at 4K up to 60fps, with extended dynamic range up to 30fps. 

The new iPhone SE is water- and dust-resistant, with an IP67 rating for water resistance up to one metre for 30 minutes.

Available in black, white and red, the second-gen iphone SE is available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB editions.

So what can you expect to pay for the new iPhone SE?

BT mobile’s plans start from £30 per month (plus £30 up front with 3GB per month data allowance) for BT broadband customers. For non-BT customers, price plans start from £35. 

Alternatively, Sky Mobile is offering the iPhone SE from just £21 per month with 2GB of data and unlimited calls & texts. Anyone who chooses a new iPhone SE will also benefit from Sky Mobile’s Roll, Watch and Mix plans. 

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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