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iPhone SE fans UNITE! Bring back the small phone lifestyle!

On Saturday, January 19, Apple dropped off its iPhone SE line at the clearance bin (opens in new tab). Sure, we all knew that was coming. Apple pulled the iPhone SE from store shelves officially in October 2018 after having been the budget model since March of 2016. The clearance price was $100 - $150 off the last available price, marked at $249 for the 32GB model and $299 for the 128GB model. That's a darn cheap iPhone, but it's three years old with three-year-old architecture and a teeny-tiny four-inch display. Even at a mere $250, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting one of these.

But people did ... hella.

iPhone SE fans are everywhere

The beautiful iPhone SE

iPhone SE (Image credit: iMore)

Within just a few days, the iPhone SE sold out at Apple's clearance section. All storage sizes, all colors, all gone. You may think, "well, that's because it was so cheap." But, I have a different thought.

I think it's because there are still a lot of us out there that long for the smaller sized form factor. Big screens be damned. We want small and comfortable!

Shortly after Apple launched the iPhone 7, I decided to switch over to see if I could give up my tiny phone for a conveniently larger screen. After just three months, I went back to my iPhone SE. The larger screen is really nice, but it's just not comfortable for the way I use a phone. I wasn't alone. A lot of people told me they prefer the four-inch form factor, too — wishing Apple would update the SE with better specs, but keep the size the same.

Traitor!

iPhone SE on top of iPhone X

I reluctantly upgraded to the iPhone X in 2017. Though the size is bigger, it's still significantly smaller than even the standard 4.7-inch display, especially in width (the iPhone X less than a half-inch wider than the iPhone SE). I ended up really liking the X's design and decided I was willing to give up the SE after all.

Let me be clear. It's not because the iPhone SE was old and running slower. When iOS 12 came out, I saw significant performance improvement in the iPhone SE, more than any other model iPhone I ran version 12 on. My little SE was speeding down the rails with the big boys.

No, the reason I finally turned the iPhone X into my daily driver is that I really do like the edge-to-edge screen, which makes the smaller (relative to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus) iPhone seem large, while still fitting into pockets and having one-handed usability.

The future of SE

A fake, a phony, not a second generation iPhone SE

Iphone SE X Fake Mockup (Image credit: Rene Ri )

When Apple quietly removed the iPhone SE from its online store the day the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR were announced on September 12, 2018, I poured one out for my homie. There had been speculation that Apple was making a second-generation SE, but taking it off the shelves was the final nail in the coffin (and on my head) that the SE is over.

Or is it?

With this much excitement around a defunct, outdated iPhone that's nearly three years old, it's easy to rekindle hope that Apple would consider another four-inch model in the future.

But, to be honest, I don't think so. Apple spends millions of dollars every year on researching what works and what doesn't. The company didn't just flip a switch and turn off the lights in the SE building without a thought. The reason there is no more iPhone SE is that it wasn't cost-effective enough to keep it alive.

We, the four-inch iPhone fans are passionate and loud, but there are just not enough of us to justify an entire production line.

Sure, someday, small phones may again be en vogue and Apple will turn those lights back on, but it's not going to be soon, and it will probably never be the same, small but comfortable design of the iPhone SE.

Shout it with me

I know there are some iPhone SE fans out there. Let's start a buzz that'll make the Fyre Festival look like a whisper in the dark. Maybe Apple will take notice, at least enough to put it on their list of things to do someday.

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).

12 Comments
  • I would like to see Apple add an iPhone XR Mini, that has the same specs as the XR but is between the size of the SE and 6. I have a 6S and was planning to replace it with a XR, but I was not happy with XR's added size and the price was still too high. My budget for a phone is no more than $600!
  • The problem is the screen target. XR shares the same screen target as XS Max. If Apple makes XR out of XS's screen target, the end product would be roughly the same size as iPhone 8 (a tad shorter but similar width).
  • I love the iphone SE size and will hold onto it as long as possible or until a smaller new phone arrives. With an Iphone XS Max in the range it seems obvious to add an iPhone XR Mini. New design language but with width the same as SE. Please !
  • Still rocking my iPhone SE, and got one for my daughter too a year ago. Perfectly adequate in functionality, and the right size. Would upgrade my wife, who needs to get a new phone (5C), but worry that it'll time out on OSs soon.
  • Yess I need it back too. I miss the size of the SE often. I have an X now but the size isn't as nice as the SE. Got one for my sibling who has been struggling with his 5s.
  • i love the iphone SE. I have one and an XS (not max) and in some ways i like the SE better, but keyboard width is a bit small for me on that one. Add the edge to edge display (could probably be about 5" with an edge to edge display), use the new edges and bezel design from the 2018 ipad pro and remove the home button then bob's your uncle. I just hope they don't skimp on the camera, since that is the only reason I have been buying the larger iPhones the last few years.
  • I have a friend who's been keeping an iPhone 5, because they absolutely love the size. When I saw this opportunity, I let her know and she jumped on it! Virtually every owner I know of a 5/5S/SE is bemoaning the fact that they can't update and keep the same size!
  • Why do you claim that the iPhone X is significantly smaller than standard 4.7 phones (like iPhone 7 or 8)? It is NOT. It is larger in every dimension. iPhone 7: 5.44x2.44x0.28, iPhone X: 5.65x2.79x0.30. That's about 18% greater volume altogether. iPhone X is also 26% heavier than iPhone 7.
  • A smaller iPhone XR would be nice
  • Sticking with SE, perfectly sized for the pocket, just had battery replaced in December, should be good for another 18 months. Don't know how people can tolerate such huge phones. Besides, Apple needs a lower priced option, $1150 for XS, $800 for XR - which can not be considered inexpensive by any means. A new SE2/XR Mini makes sense with a lower price point.
  • Forgot to note, having a Small (SE2), Medium (XR/XS) and Large (XS Max) seems like a more practical approach. Providing options for all.
  • If the SE 2 miraculoulsy comes out, I may be giving my XS to my wife and going back to the small phone lifestyle. In the meantime, my SE is the backup iPhone in the family.