Apple by no means shocked the world today with its announcement of an updated iPhone SE – the phone had been rumored for weeks now. What they did do was release a phone with a mostly solid set of specs at a really reasonable price at just the right time. Our world has been turned upside down, with budgets tighter than ever. If there is anything to focus on with the SE’s arrival, it’s that Apple is giving people a choice that will put less strain on everyone’s bank accounts. I hope it forces others to follow.
I’ve already done my share of mocking predictable iPhone SE vs. Pixel 4a folks on Twitter, so I’ll save you from that here. Instead, I can’t help but look at this phone as an example we should all point to to remind phone makers that good phones don’t have to cost $1,000.
OK, fine, I have SE opinions I need to get out of the way first. Sorry.
The iPhone SE does not impress me in the least. I’m not going to be the guy claiming that a small phone with a tiny 720p display, giant bezels, and a single camera is here to destroy all made-up competitors, like the 4a. I’m not interested in a phone with a 2016 design because like everyone else in the world, I now live in 2020 and like big, high resolution displays. Yes, even in the $400 range those are the things I like and can easily find on Android.
We get it, iPhone bro, the A13 chip in this iPhone SE powers the iPhone 11 Pro Max HD+ 4G LTE. It’s just that having it power this little budget phone is kind of pointless. It’s not pushing pixels or a high refresh rate. It’s not powering an advanced multi-camera system, showing off high-res imagery or video (it can’t), or doing any sort of heavy lifting. The A13 solely exists in this phone as a talking point for media and Apple fans to scream, “It has an A13!!!!!!!!!!! And costs $399!!!!!!!” And they all took the bait today.
The iPhone SE is like if Chevy put their new Corvette engine in a 2016 Chevy S10 and slapped on a governor at 45mph. Or imagine someone gifting you a gaming PC with an RTX 2080 in it and you attach it to a budget wireless keyboard and a CRT monitor, while sitting at it on a metal stool. The only impressive thing about either of those situations is that Apple is giving you that engine and graphics card at a ridiculously low price. That’s the iPhone SE.
OK, I’m done. Back on topic.
If there is one thing I absolutely love about the iPhone SE it’s that we can hope that everyone else will try and copy the idea. Sure, this isn’t even Apple’s idea, to create a budget phone that provides the experience of a better phone, but when Apple does shit, people follow. I actually hope they sell a boatload of them to get Android phone makers to take notice.
We don’t like $1,400 phones. I’m not sure many of us like $1,000 phones either. We might not be able to afford them for much longer. The reason the Pixel 3a was such a breath of fresh air last year, was because we got a handful of important features that didn’t fall short. That’s why we’ve all looked forward to the release of the Pixel 4a. The old OnePlus phones were seriously loved because of the package you were getting for the price. Last year’s S10e came close to joining this category too.
So listen, Android friends, make better budget phones. I know you probably can’t make the financials work where you’ll throw a Snapdragon 865 into a $399 phone, and that’s fine. We’d rather have a better display, camera, battery life, and design than an unnecessarily powerful chipset that the rest of the components won’t take advantage of. You can do it.