The new iPhone SE is Apple going back to its roots. It's a high-end iPhone that does what 99% of users want from a smartphone, without the cost and complexity of gizmos and gimmicks that are included to justify a huge price tag.
The first gimmick dropped is Face ID. Sure, it's nice, but the convenience of it doesn't replace the reliability of the old Touch ID mechanism. When Face ID works, it's great, but it can also be far more frustrating than Touch ID ever was.
But Face ID was something new to put on the box, and it looked great in demos during the launch.
The other change is the screen size is down to a reasonable 4.7 inches. Again, huge screens have their place, but Apple normalized them in the pursuit of prices that make your eyes fly open.
For many, the tablet-esque size of modern iPhones is too much to carry. Pockets and hands just aren't that big.
Again, big screens looked great in demos, and help justify ballooning prices.
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Then there's the single camera.
Point and shoot.
Nice and simple.
An iPhone that's bristling with cameras looks good, and all that tech talk about capturing outside the frame and deep dives into camera specs filled a lot of demo time and get tech journalists excited, but most can happily live with a single rear camera.
The new iPhone SE is really the phone that most of us want: Compact, fast, easy to use, and coming in at a reasonable price. It features high-end silicon that will still be relevant in a few years of use, and it's the best bang for the buck iPhone you'll be able to get your hands on.
The new iPhone SE is a handset that will last five years. For $399 that's quite an achievement, and I can't think of an Android handset for that price that will offer that consistency of experience over that length of time.
Problem is, Apple's marketing is such that it's convinced people they need to overspend on big screens and fancy camera tech.