Apple is probably best known for making high-end flagship devices like the iPhone 11 Pro. Scratch that. They are only known for making high-end flagship devices. But there was one time in 2016 where they broke the mould and crammed iPhone 6 specs into the iPhone 5 body, priced it lower than any release device they have ever put out and went to town. This year, they’ve done it again. This is it. The iPhone SE 2020.

Source: Amazon

Sorry. Thats the iPhone 8, it’s easy to be confused. This is it.

Source: Apple

What we have here is a small form factor iPhone that starts at S$649. That is the main highlight of this device: a brand-new iPhone for S$649. The iPhone SE doesn’t challenge for the throne, instead it fights in “budget” territory, and damn is it a fighter.

Speed and Power

The A13 Bionic is the beating heart of the SE 2020. Yes. The same processor that powers the flagship 11 Pro is here as well. Apple took the 2nd most powerful processor in the world, and put it in the SE. So expect blazingly fast performance, no lag or stutter whatsoever. This is coupled with 3GB RAM – plenty for the well-optimised iOS 13 – and all this means that the phone will rival flagships in terms of speed. That’s right, the SE is classes above comparable phones at this price in terms of speed.

Camera Legacy

Source: Screenshot of iPhone SE 2020 commercial

There’s only one camera here, but Apple’s camera legacy carries it hard. Photos in bright light look lovely – sharp, well-detailed and colour accurate. In such conditions, I don’t think it is possible to tell the difference between this phone and the near S$2000 iPhone 11 Pro. However, where you’ll see the difference is when the lights go off. No night mode is a “red flag”, so photos in very dark conditions will look bad (no way to sugar coat it). But even in low light, preliminary images look soft and noisy. It feels like the phone panics and tries to over-process and over-correct the image, making it look worse in the process. That said, it is still an iPhone camera, and it still is really good in both stills and especially video.

Battery Concerns

Source: Apple

I do have a concern on the SE 2020, and it is regarding its battery. 1821mAh is by no means a large capacity – in fact it’s actually very small compared to other phones in this price range. Furthermore, Apple decided to put the world’s 2nd most powerful processor in this phone, and it is power hungry. I expect this phone to be able to push out battery life that can last for a day, but nothing more. Heavy use should drain the phone before dinner which is a little concerning, but then again, it is S$649, so I cannot complain too much.

Everything Else

Source: Apple

Everything else about the SE 2020 is typical Apple. Two panels of Glass held by an aluminium frame, 0-50% battery in 30 minutes, dual-firing stereo speakers, IP67 dust and water resistant… However, probably the most compelling thing about the SE 2020 is that it is an iPhone. This is a S$649 iPhone, which is a really compelling price to be able to enter the Apple ecosystem.

Cementing Dominance

And that is where I think the appeal of the SE 2020 lies. This isn’t an exciting sub-S$700 phone by any means, but I don’t think people buying this device will care. It doesn’t have the full screen display of phones like the more affordable Galaxy A71 (sub-S$500), or the battery capacity of the Poco F2 Pro (S$800), but it is an iPhone in the Apple Ecosystem. You can get this phone, the Airpods Pro, and an Apple Watch Series 5 and still come up S$22 short of the base iPhone 11 Pro.

Compliment that with the 2nd most powerful phone processor, passable battery life, great camera performance and Apple’s build quality and you get a really solid phone for less than S$700.

I think all this just proves Apple’s dominance. Only Apple will be able to use “spare parts” that they have lying around and make something like this. This phone outperforms most phones in this class, shoots better photos and definitely better videos, and has a better ecosystem to top it all off. The SE 2020 in my mind is a power move, a flex by Apple, showing that they can dominate at any price point, it’s just a matter of whether they want to or not. 

get your iPhone se in 3 different colors on their official Apple website. Available colors are black, white and red
Source: Apple

The iPhone SE 2020 is available starting at S$649 in Singapore.

For related articles, you check out our thoughts on the recent Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and OnePlus 8 Pro

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