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iPhone SE (2020)

Having not had a new phone for four years this has been a bit of a novelty for me. The last time I removed the shrink-wrap on a new phone was on an iPhone 6S, which went on like an absolute trooper and got another lease of life when Apple did their discounted battery replacement program. After having it for just over two and a half years I replaced it with a second-hand iPhone 7, which lasted me for another eighteen months - so I've not been up with the cool kids for a long time. But when the iPhone 7 eventually needed a new battery too, I considered the merits of getting a "proper" new phone again. The only problem was, well, money. With the prohibitive prices of the iPhone XR, XS and iPhone 11, I couldn't justify the expense and kept putting it off.

Then the new iPhone SE was announced, seemingly sounding like a fitting replacement to my iPhone 7 and I put in a pre-order. Whilst I'll admit that I'm something of an Apple Fanboi, this is the first time I've ever had a new Apple phone in my hands on the day of release. In these times of Coronavirus, Apple sent the phone to me by courier for launch day.

Unboxing the iPhone was the usual affair, with the phone, charger and lightning earbuds in the box, pretty much the same as any previous iPhone. And on the outside, the phone looks pretty unremarkable. In fact, you'd almost go as far as to say the design now looks dated. The phone has the shell of an iPhone 8, but with the guts of an iPhone 11. So you still get wireless charging, a better camera and a significantly quicker processor - and for most people that's going to be just fine. On a personal note, I don't want FaceID, don't care about bezels or having a phone that's all screen. A phone that fits in my pocket, has a better battery, slightly more grunt and takes a better photo will do just fine.

Once I'd got going by restoring my previous phone's backup, I have to say that it was nice to use. As the processor used in the phone is the same as the one in the iPhone 11, things definitely felt snappy again and I don't think I've really waited around for anything. Exports from iMovie (usually a good test of speed) take place in seconds. The wireless charging works nicely (I've got two £5 wireless charging pads from PoundLand) and it's nice to have some good battery life again. Whilst I've heard criticism that the battery isn't as good as some of the more expensive models, I'm not a particularly heavy phone user and can get two days out of the battery. It may be a "cheap iPhone" in Apple's eyes, but for me it's more than good enough.

And if you're in any doubt about how good the camera is, take a look at some of the sample shots below. The general consensus is that the camera is great (you can shoot 4K video and it supports portrait-mode), but it's not so good in poor light.

So I'm not sure if it was lucky timing, or whether Apple's decision to release this phone was a cunning change in direction given the massive economic downturn that we're all about to experience, but I'm more than happy with the new iPhone SE and its price. If it's like the its previous incarnation, it's probably going to get OS and security updates for the best part of five years and as a result still feels like a better proposition to a cheap Android phone that might get just a few updates over the next two years. Apple have definitely put a winning device together here. There's lots of people out there like me who will think that this phone is "good enough", that don't need the latest and greatest but still want something that's perfectly functional - and if "good enough" is all you need, then this will most certainly fit the bill. The base price is £419, but if you trade in your old phone, it'll be a lot less. It's going to sell by the bucket-load.
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