Last week, Apple announced the long rumored iPhone SE 2ND Generation and it was quite the surprise.
This was a sequel to the much loved iPhone SE from 2016 which was geared for those Ios users that love small phones. The original iPhone SE was based on the iPhone 5S design while the 2nd generation iPhone SE was based on the slightly bigger iPhone 8 design, which is small by today’s standards.
However, the most striking features about the new iPhone SE are the price and the power. Apple managed to cram their best mobile processor (A13) that is present on their $999+ iPhone 11 Pro to a phone that starts at $399, which is insane.
That effectively makes this phone the most powerful phone in the midrange market, which is dominated by phones from Xiaomi, Samsung and Oppo.
Apple did not stop there. They gave it a 12MP sensor that is probably either the one from the iPhone 8 or the one on the iPhone XR but in conjunction with the improved image processing from the Apple A13 chip, you can expect this to perform better than the older phones. It also has wireless charging and water resistance, which is unheard off in this price range. It also shoots 4K video upto 60fps, has the traditional metal build we’ve been used to with iPhones and you can get one upto 256GB of internal storage.
Granted there are some features that people will point out about the phone. The battery size is small, it doesn’t have a headphone jack which is not surprising and the screen resolution is relatively low compared to the competition. I’ve even seen people complain about its relatively huge bezels due to the use of the iPhone 8 design.Some have also made fun of TouchID, which comes back with the SE, which is still a really reliable form of authentication.
This phone is a big problem for the midrange market
The iPhone SE 2nd generation is a huge problem for the midrange market. For $399, there is absolutely no phone that can be able to compete in terms of sheer power at this price range.
The Android phones you tend to see at this price range usually have midrange Snapdragon chips, Mediatek or custom chips. For example, it is not uncommon to see a 7xx series Snapdragon or a Mediatek Helio P90. Apple managed to cram a flagship-level processor into a $399 and that is hard to beat for most people.
Add other features like a great camera, wireless charging, water-resistance, and 4K 60fps video and this seems like an excellent option for a lot of people in this price range.
The one instance we remember an Android phone pulling such a stunt is Xiaomi with their Pocophone F1. They were able to cram a Snapdragon 845 which was the top processor at the time, a good enough camera and a huge battery for $300 and it resonated well with consumers. They repeated the same trick in 2019 with the K20 Pro, but that started at roughly $433 in today’s money.
What are you missing if you opt for the iPhone SE 2 rather than getting an iPhone 11?
At first glance, it may seem stupid that Apple would give the SE 2 the A13 Bionic chip that powers the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro. However, there are legitimately good reasons for you to spend the extra $300 to $600 for the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro respectively.
- Longer battery life
- Better cameras
- Night mode that is excellent on the iPhone 11 series
- U1 chip that is present on the iPhone 11 that is used for detecting iPhones around you.
- Better displays, especially compared to the iPhone 11 Pro
- Better materials (Stainless steel instead of aluminium that is present in the iPhone 11 Pro)
The iPhone SE’s Android competitor
There is a midrange phone right now that mimics what Apple has done here, but in a more modern way, and yes it is more expensive.
The Xiaomi K30 Pro has managed to bring this year’s top dog processor on the Android space (Snapdragon 865), aluminum and glass build, water resistance, fast charging and Wi-Fi 6, while beating out the iPhone SE on other fronts like a better 1080p OLED panel, a 64MP camera that shoots 8K video, a 13MP ultrawide camera, an under the display fingerprint sensor, USB-C and a bigger 4,700mAh battery.
However, the base 128GB/6GB RAM variant starts at $425 in China but $549 in other online retailers, which is way more expensive compared to the iPhone SE and hence are not equals. It is still an incredible value when compared to the more expensive $900+ Android phones that we have in 2020.
The iPhone SE 2 competitor may come from Google. Last year, they announced the Pixel 3A, which managed to bring a flagship-level camera to a $399 phone. However, Google cut corners on build quality (plastic instead of metal and glass), it didn’t have wireless charging, no water resistance and had a midrange processor.
We are now left wondering whether the Pixel 4a (or whatever name Google will call it) will match the iPhone SE 2 price and hardware. That will be a very difficult thing to do and we shall see what Google will deliver.
2020 as a whole is interesting
2020 is a very interesting year for smartphones. The COVID-19 pandemic has diminished smartphone sales. The most expensive mass-market phone is a Samsung. OnePlus finally crept up to the premium flagship segment. Apple decided to drop a banging midrange phone with iPhone 11 guts.
There are still a number of flagship smartphones yet to be launched, the Note 20 and the Pixel 5. However, we will see what Android OEMs will come up with to compete with the iPhone SE 2. It has no true competitor at the moment and that will be the case for the next few months.