back to article Guess who's back, back again. SE's back, tell a friend: 2020 reboot looks like an iPhone 8 and even shares components

Serial phone abusers at iFixit have discovered that the iPhone SE 2020 is effectively a specced-up version of 2017's iPhone 8, meaning many of its components are interchangeable with its older brother. The cameras, SIM tray and Taptic Engine (essentially Apple's version of a vibration motor, used for haptic feedback) all share …

  1. W Donelson

    It's still the fastest Apple iPhone at the lowest Apple price

    It's still the fastest Apple iPhone at the lowest Apple price, perfect for my son who likes the smaller phones.

    1. scaley

      Re: It's still the fastest Apple iPhone at the lowest Apple price

      It's not a particularly small phone, just a small screen with large bezels.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: It's still the fastest Apple iPhone at the lowest Apple price

        It measures 138 by 67 mm. I'll grant you that we've seen plenty of smaller devices. Unfortunately for those like me who like smaller devices, we haven't seen them recently. I did a search on a phone database for devices released in the last two years smaller than those dimensions, and 73 results came up. Then I adjusted the list to remove watches and feature phones. Only seven results came up.

        It would seem that there's at least some competition, but then I checked out each of the others. Each is an Android Go edition device, which is a reduced feature-set version of Android for devices with limited specifications, and they really mean it with the "limited specifications". The most specced phone in the list has 16 GB of flash and 1 GB of memory. Several only have 8 GB of flash. One only has 512 MB of memory! Not a single one supports 5 GHz WiFi. Most are on Android 8.1. I think we all know even those running 9.0 go edition aren't getting any updates. Not to mention that I'm doubting you can even buy many of these in your country of residence--though I could see one or two making it there, these mostly seem aimed at developing regions.

        So if you want a smartphone, you want it to be new, and you want to have one smaller or equal in size to the iPhone 8, the newest iPhone may be your only reasonable option.

        1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

          Re: It's still the fastest Apple iPhone at the lowest Apple price

          The Sony XZ2 Compact just fails your “released in thr last two years” test.

          https://www.gsmarena.com/sony_xperia_xz2_compact-9082.php

          April 2018

          135x65mm

          4 GB RAM.

          64 GB flash

          It is interesting that there aren’t more like this.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: It's still the fastest Apple iPhone at the lowest Apple price

            Good point. That one looks nice. I'm not sure if a two-year-old device is still being manufactured or sold, but that seems like good competition. The problem for me and those who want small smartphones is not exactly that there are no options, but just that there are few good options. This one and the one described below make three that seem worth consideration, which is not that many. I know why this is, but unfortunately I'm in that subset who doesn't agree with the majority.

        2. juice Silver badge

          Re: It's still the fastest Apple iPhone at the lowest Apple price

          > I did a search on a phone database for devices released in the last two years smaller than those dimensions, and 73 results came up. Then I adjusted the list to remove watches and feature phones. Only seven results came up.

          I just did a quick search on Amazon for "4 - 4.4 inch" phones, and a few more options came up.

          E.g. the dreadfully named Cubot Kingkong phone, which is 119x58mm, 3GB RAM and Android 9 Pie. And released in November 2019, judging by the Amazon timestamp and review dates.

          To be fair, it's a cheap and cheerful little number which looks like it was designed by a teenager who'd just watched Bladerunner for the first time, but at the same time, it's new, looks to have reviewed surprisingly well for it's price point and fits your size criteria.

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/CUBOT-Kingkong-Mini-Smartphone-Waterproof/dp/B08212KXNH/

          https://www.notebookcheck.net/Cubot-KingKong-Mini-Smartphone-Review-Handy-Mobile-Phone-from-China.454083.0.html

          Then there's the Alcatel 4034x, released in October 2018, though at £37 new, it's barely a third the price of the Kingkong and the (curiously omitted) hardware specs will probably be trimmed down to match.

          Beyond that, the well does seem to run dry on Amazon (barring some older Android and even Windows phones some overly optimistic people are still listing).

          But there's a reason for this: the market has moved on from small handsets. Because the vast majority of people now use their handsets to interact with visual media - social media and videos being the two main ones.

          They're even increasingly using them to produce media rather than just consume it - my housemate has been producing some impressively professional looking music videos on her iPhone during the lockdown.

          And a small handset just doesn't cut it, either for consuming visual media, interacting with it or creating it.

          Which isn't to say that there isn't use-cases for smaller handsets - after all, some people really do just want a phone, not a miniaturised networked computer.

          But there simply isn't - and arguably never will be - a market large enough to interest the likes of Apple.

          1. Philip Lewis

            Re: It's still the fastest Apple iPhone at the lowest Apple price

            How many of the old SE were sold? It was iPhone5 size

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: It's still the fastest Apple iPhone at the lowest Apple price

              Statistics are a little tricky to calculate accurately from information I found online, but here are some from the U.S. only. Keep in mind that this is 2014-2019, but the SE only was sold from 2016 on.

              1. juice Silver badge

                Re: It's still the fastest Apple iPhone at the lowest Apple price

                Looks like in 2016, the SE accounted for about 15% of Apple's US sales and 30% of their UK sales.

                https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/10/the-iphone-se-is-selling-just-as-apple-planned-in-the-u-s-and-europe/

                So it was certainly pretty popular, at least for a while. Saying that, it'd be interesting to find out how much of that was driven by the lower price point - a second article linked from the above notes that the SE cost $399 versus $549 for the 6S.

                Then too, four years later, access to visual media is arguably a lot more important than it was back in 2016.

                Anecdotally, I do actually own a SE and use it on a daily basis - I bought one used, since I needed a new music player and it was cheaper than picking up an iPod Touch ;)

                For all that it's perfectly functional and fast enough, when compared to the behemoth of my Samsung S10+, it's an ergonomic PITA, especially when it comes to typing.

                To be fair, I remember being perfectly happy when tapping away with a stylus on my old Palm 3c. But we've come a long way since then, and I've no desire to go back to smaller or more fiddly user interfaces!

  2. Semtex451

    "There's very little "new" in the latest iPhone SE, save for the optics and battery."

    Um, its the same capacity battery and its the same camera with a different lens crystal

    I would make a pedantic point about the home button not being mechanical at all, but no one cares.

    The only real difference between the 7/8 & the SE is the cpu as as been obvious to all at launch that looked at the spec on apple.com

  3. cschneid

    but how is it selling?

    While I appreciate the snark at El Reg as much as the next commentard, sacrificing news and fact for snark is a waste of talent. This reads like someone shouted, "Quick, three or four hundred words on that new Apple thing!"

    More interesting would be how it's selling. There's been a trend towards mobiles getting larger and larger as people use them for content consumption instead of communication, how does the market react to a comparably tiny mobile?

    If you can't say something interesting, or at least funny, say nothing at all. Points off for quoting this last back to me.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "There's been a trend towards mobiles getting larger and larger"

      Sure, especially in the consumer market - but there's still demand for *smaller* phones by those who use them as a pure communication device and don't watch movies nor play with them, and find the smaller form factor easier to keep in a pocket.

    2. Semtex451

      Re: but how is it selling?

      Agreed.

      If it is selling, it's to folk with an old SE who have finally realised there will never be a replacement and they have to accept this faster iPhone 8 (that they are calling an SE), instead.

      There very little reason for anyone who owns a working 7 or 8 to bother with it.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: but how is it selling?

        There very little reason for anyone who owns a working 7 or 8 to bother with it.

        Yes. _working_ being the important part. That said - sure, spot on, not many will likely buy it. If it were not an i-Thing I might be tempted though (tried the interface, didn't like it, still miss the Windows phone 8.something that I had). Small screens are a niche, so of course I do not expect miracles regarding sales. As this is an iPhone 8 (essentially), and development costs were probably pretty low for Apple, low sales numbers won't matter. (except to snark, but hey, nothing wrong with that).

      2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: but how is it selling?

        > If it is selling, it's to folk with an old SE who have finally realised there will never be a replacement and they have to accept this faster iPhone 8 (that they are calling an SE), instead.

        That's me you're describing and your body punches have landed.

        The reason I went with the original SE was that the 8 was too big. Now that phablets are the new norm and Audi Q7's are larger and heavier than 1980's Ford Transit vans, what was previously a large phone is no longer so. Or, put another way, as phones have doubled in size, so have my standards. ;-)

        1. jvf

          Disappointed-it's too big

          Was going to help Apple out and upgrade my old SE to the new one-until I discovered that it was really an iPhone 8 sized monster. FAKE! So, I'm keeping my old one-which is still too big but I deal with it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: but how is it selling?

      "how does the market react to a comparably tiny mobile"

      I'm probably the odd-one-out here, but I want my phone to be a phone and send SMS messages, so the smaller, less complicated, and longer the battery life, the better - I'm still using a 10 year old Nokia "dumb phone" (which is probably part of the reason why Nokia had financial troubles). Whilst I appreciate the utility of smart phones, I'm almost never very far away from a laptop or PC, which is generally a superior option (due at least to a larger screen making reading things easier) unless you're outdoors.

      1. eionmac

        Re: but how is it selling?

        Concur. Two of us in this household use old DODO phones. Does what we want phone calls and texts. In house there are about 4 large 15" - 17" laptops with Windows 10 (unused) and USB hard discs with about 8 Linux distros in use (Main driver openSUSE LEAP 15,1 with a Ubuntu 18.04 as spare). Knoppix, Linux Mint, Debian etc. on smaller (< 64 GB USBs).

    4. General Purpose

      Re: but how is it selling?

      sacrificing news and fact for snark

      The article's not snarky. It's a straightforward news-and-fact piece about the build. I'm sure there'll be an article about sales figures later, when there are some sales figures to report and discuss. The only strange thing is that rather than wait for that article, you decided to be snarky about this one.

  4. tin 2

    all they got to do now is....

    .... put a 3.5mm jack on it, and it will be almost the perfect phone.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: all they got to do now is....

      You mean like last year's Pixel 3a and this year's rumored 4a?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: all they got to do now is....

        Well, the Pixel is larger than the iPhone. The case is only a bit larger (14 mm longer and 3 mm wider), but for people for whom the original SE is good, that's still large. The screen is much larger because there are smaller bezels, meaning that this device has a 5.6-inch screen (142 mm) as compared to the iPhone's 4.7-inch one (119 mm). If someone desires a small phone for a small screen (for example, to use with one hand), that might be a feature. My personal requirement for smallness only concerns how small the physical device is, although this is probably as large as I could take.

        In other details, there are various differences. The iPhone is water resistant, while the Pixel isn't at all. The Pixel has a headphone jack, as you've noted. The iPhone's storage can go up to 256 GB, while the Pixel's is stuck at 64 (no card slot on it). If you want to shoot video, the iPhone can record 4K at 60 FPS, while the Pixel can only do so at 30 FPS.

        For nearly any user, there are probably only two of those specs they care about. It really depends which two. For me, it's basically only size that matters, so these both seem basically fine. I'll see what the market looks like when my older but smaller phone finally breaks.

  5. jgarbo
    Paris Hilton

    What's new? Naught...

    When you start bringing home old girlfriends, your admirers know you're over the hill. "Yeah, face lift but still saggy, mate."

  6. davidp231

    So will Apple shorten the name to "iPhone SE/20", as an homage to the original Mac SE replacement, the SE/30?

    1. davidp231

      Also, bonus beer points if anyone remembers how the SE/30 got its name.

      1. Fred Bernal

        The Mac SE/30 was the successor to the Mac SE. Among the hardware improvements, the CPU was updated from a Motorola 68K to the 68030. Macs equipped with 68030 CPU's had the "x" appended to the model (e.g., IIx, IIfx). Adhering to this naming convention meant that the SE/30 would have been the "SEx", instead. The "SEx" moniker would have been awesome, IMHO. It would have made the SE/30 even more of a collector's item than it is now.

        The SE/30 was the best of the all-in-one 68K Macs (the IIfx was drool-inducing, but that was an entirely different beast). I did my work and played games on them during my school years as a kid. Fond memories... and amazing how productive one was with what is now considered a diminutive amount of computing resources.

        1. davidp231

          Have a beer!

  7. Philip Lewis

    iPhone 4 through 6

    There are a LOT of phones in the 4 through 6 range still in daily use (I have a 6). The SE will push a lot of those onto the used market. I think it's a well positioned product.

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