The iPhone SE is fast and affordable, with a 4-inch screen (but no 3D Touch)
Apple hasn't forgotten the 4-inch smartphone. At a media event in Cupertino, Apple's Greg Joswiak just unveiled the brand new iPhone SE, replacing the iPhone 5s in Apple's line-up and providing a smaller, cheaper alternative to the two top-end iPhones already on sale.
The easiest way to think of the iPhone SE is almost an iPhone 6s inside the body of an iPhone 5s. You get most of the latest iPhone goodies, including Apple Pay and Live Photos, but in a device that's easier to hold in one hand and won't put as big a dent in your budget. It's cheaper than the flagship phones launched last year, but aside from the design the differences are minor.
One of the few iPhone 6s/6s Plus features not to be included in the iPhone SE is 3D Touch. The novel pressure-sensitive display technology has been heavily pushed by Apple since September, but this practically guarantees that the tech will remain an optional extra in iOS app development for years to come, basically dashing any hopes that it will be a universal feature within the next few years (it's also missing from the newest iPads).
Otherwise there is very little compromise in terms of specs: you get the same A9 processor and M9 motion coprocessor found in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, and (unsurprisingly) Apple says the CPU and GPU performance is exactly the same. If you're in the market for a new Apple phone then you now have five handsets to choose from: the iPhones SE, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and i6s and 6s Plus.
The camera is top-of-the-line too, a 12 MP iSight camera capable of 4K video recording. Like the iPhones Apple launched last September, the device offers "Retina Flash" (where the display acts as a camera flash) to make sure your selfies are well lit. Apple says you can get 13 hours of Wi-Fi web browsing out of the iPhone SE's battery, which is a higher estimate than the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus (those estimates are 11 and 12 hours, respectively).
Apple is calling the SE "the most powerful 4-inch iPhone ever created" (of course it is, as it's two and a half years newer than the last one), but it's also the cheapest iPhone in Apple's new line-up. The 16 GB model will retail for US$399 with the 32 GB edition available for $499. Pre-orders start on Thursday March 24 with the phone on sale on March 31 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.
With so much power in the most affordable iPhone yet, it looks like an obvious upgrade for buyers who don't want or need a larger screen size and can live with the slightly dated iPhone 5s-style looks and lack of 3D Touch.