Apple Releases The New iphone SE

Yesterday, Apple announced the new $399 iPhone SE. The TL;DR appears to be really simple: the iPhone 8’s body, the iPhone 11’s processor, and the iPhone XR’s camera system with a few new capabilities. I’ll obviously wait to review this phone to tell you if it’s any good, but assuming Apple lives up to its usual standards I can tell you something right away:

At $399, the second-generation iPhone SE is a shockingly good value.

The most important thing to know about the SE’s value proposition is simply that it has the A13 Bionic processor, which is bar-none the fastest processor you can get on any smartphone at any price, full stop. You could spend $1,449 on a fully maxed-out iPhone 11 Pro Max and it wouldn’t be faster than the iPhone SE. You could spend $1599.99 on a maxed-out Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and it would be theoretically slower (with the exception of 5G downloads).

This isn’t just a matter of processor megahertz per buck, it’s a matter of the longevity of the phone itself. More than any other phone company, Apple supports its phones for a very long time. Since this iPhone SE has the most modern processor available, it’s quite likely that it will receive software updates for many years to come.

Hell, Apple even did the right thing with storage: offering a humane 64GB at the base level and making the 128GB model only $50 more.

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Over the course of 2019, we marveled at the level of quality you could get in a long series of relatively inexpensive Android phones. That’s still true today, but those phones will receive three years of updates from Google at most. And as my colleague Chris Welch will argue later today, the iPhone SE sets a bar that the upcoming Google Pixel 4A will have an incredibly difficult time clearing.

Again, we’ll need to review the new iPhone SE and the Pixel 4A to know whether one of them has an advantage with any particular feature (like the camera). So no final judgments here. But I just need to point out that for most of 2018 and 2019, every Android maker has had a bit of a greenfield to play in phones that cost less than $500.

Google, Asus, Samsung, and many others did good work in that green field, but now there’s real competition from Apple.

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