Why I'm excited to leave my big iPhone behind and pick up an iPhone SE

App Store on iPhone 8
App Store on iPhone 8 (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz /iMore)

Some people have been clamoring for a new smaller phone from Apple for a while now. Complaints about big phones being too hard to handle with one hand have had people hoping Apple would release something more manageable. Not to mention how $1000 flagship iPhones have been the norm for a few years now, making people who want an iPhone without spending a lot of money out of luck. Now that Apple has announced the iPhone SE (2020), that's all changed.

The new iPhone SE is exactly what the people ordered, a small and affordable iPhone. I never thought I would be interested in the second-generation iPhone SE, but now that it's been announced, I'm pretty sure it's going to be my next phone.

The A13 Bionic chip is insanely powerful

iPhone 11 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: Rene Ritchie/iMore)

When the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max launched last year, the A13 Bionic chip that was inside of them was more powerful than the Snapdragon 865, which is the chip that Samsung's flagship phones use. While it makes total sense for Apple's flagship to have a processor that rivals the best around the market, putting that same processor in the $399 iPhone SE almost seems crazy.

The $399 iPhone SE has a more powerful processor than the $1,400 Galaxy S20 Ultra — that's insane. Of course, processing power isn't everything, and obviously there's a ton of differences between the iPhone SE and Galaxy S20 Ultra in functionality and features, but when it comes to pure processing power, the iPhone SE wins out.

I miss Touch ID more than I thought I would

Multiple iPhones are stacked showing the Touch ID sensor. (Image credit: iMore)

Back when the iPhone X was first launched, I wrote about how I was happy that I went with the iPhone 8 Plus instead, and a huge reason for that at the time was Touch ID. Now, after using FaceID on the iPhone XS Max for almost two years, I am excited to be reunited with the Home button and Touch ID once more.

I don't hate Face ID, but as someone with glasses, I have experienced quite a few problems with it. I often can't get FaceID to work when I take my glasses off, and yes, I've tried setting up an alternate appearance without my glasses on and still fails most of the time. This makes it extremely annoying to use my iPhone when I'm lying in bed before I go to sleep, or when I take my glasses off to shave, or any other time my glasses my not be on my face. I don't want to have to struggle with my phone to open it, I want it to work, and TouchID is more reliable and faster than FaceID has ever been.

The price can't be beat

I jumped on the $1,000+ phone train without much hesitation, accepting that this is just where we know when it comes to flagship phone prices, but admittedly paying that much money for a phone is a lot to ask. I have always been slightly jealous of the decent options for low-cost Android phones in the past that Apple hasn't provided as frequently; however, Apple has dipped into the budget phone market before.

The original iPhone SE, the iPhone XR — and even the iPhone 11 to some extent — were all made as lower-cost alternatives to their flagship counterparts. Each of those phones went on to sell pretty well because there's a big market for good low-cost phones. The iPhone SE (2020) is the cream of the crop right now in terms of budget phones, clocking in at $300 less than the iPhone 11 (the cheapest model of the iPhone 11 series), and $600 less than the iPhone 11 Pro.

Yes, there are compromises. You don't get multiple cameras, you won't have an OLED screen, and you won't have the TrueDepth camera, but all of those features are add-ons and not necessary for a phone to be reliable and useful.

A few minor concerns

iPhone 8 Product Red Camera View Finder (Image credit: iMore)

The iPhone SE returns to the small form factor of the iPhone 8 and that does leave me a little concerned about the battery life. There are reports that the iPhone SE has a 1,821mAh battery, which is the same size battery the iPhone 8 had, it's a big step down from the iPhone XS Max I'm currently using as my daily driver.

I use my phone pretty heavily throughout the day, but I'm also around power outlets at all times (since I work from home), so I'm not too concerned. Plus, Apple has been doing a great job of optimizing battery performance with iOS, and iOS 13 (which the iPhone SE will ship with) has made battery on older devices perform slightly better, so it really shouldn't be a big issue.

Camera shock

Since I'm coming from the iPhone XS Max and not the iPhone 11 Pro series, I don't anticipate going back to one camera being a problem for me. The iPhone SE (much like the iPhone XR) can still use Portrait Mode and Portrait Lightning through the use of the software, so I'm not missing much other than the 2X zoom of the telephoto lens. I don't find myself using the Telephoto lens that often when I'm snapping pictures with my iPhone, and I practically never use the front-facing camera on any phone.

Are you excited for the new iPhone SE

Are you going to buy the iPhone SE (2020), let us know in the comments down below!

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.