Welcome to our iPhone SE launch report, where we offer all the important details about the new iPhone SE: its UK pricing and UK release date, its tech specs and physical design, its new features and unique selling points. Read on for everything you need to know about the iPhone SE. Updated 7 April 2016 with a teardown, IHS build cost and information on stock shortages.
Back in 2015, we were worried that Apple had decided to ditch the 'C' range from its iPhone line-up and stop making 4-inch iPhones altogether after the success of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s (and iPhone 6) and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6s Plus (and iPhone 6 Plus). But it's been consistently rumoured that a smaller iPhone was on the way. Now, sure enough, we get the iPhone SE.
You'll also like: Best iPhone SE deals
Intro: Everything to know about the new iPhone SE
The iPhone SE (short for 'Special Edition') is Apple's newest 4-inch iPhone, and its first 4-inch iPhone since the iPhone 5s in 2013. The iPhone SE was unveiled at a press event tonight (21 March), alongside the new 9.7in iPad Pro, iOS 9.3 and a range of new Apple Watch bands.
The iPhone SE is on sale in the UK as of 31st March. UK prices for the phone SIM-free start at £359 for the 16GB; there is also a 64GB model, which costs £439, but no 128GB offering. The iPhone SE, like the iPhone 6s handsets, is available in silver, gold, Space Grey and Rose Gold.
The iPhone SE replaces the iPhone 5s in Apple's smartphone line-up, and will consequently be the only 4-inch device Apple sells.
Let's look at what we know about the iPhone SE in a bit more detail.
Apple iPhone SE UK release date: When is Apple iPhone SE coming out?
The 4-inch iPhone SE was unveiled at Apple's 21 March 'Let us loop you in' launch event.
Tim Cook announced that the iPhone SE will come out on 31 March - so it's out now, although you may have to queue at first.
Apple iPhone SE UK release date: What time will the Apple Store open tomorrow?
In previous years, Apple has opened its stores early for customers wishing to buy the new products. This year, however, opening times haven't changed, so check online here for opening times of your local store.
Apple iPhone SE UK price: How much will Apple iPhone SE cost?
Apple has announced that the iPhone SE will be available in 16GB and 64GB versions. In the UK the 16GB model will cost £359; the 64GB model costs £439. (For comparison, in the US the iPhone SE will start at $399 for the 16GB model and it's $499 for 64GB.)
Apple isn't making a 128GB model of the iPhone SE at this point, which seems odd in this day and age - if anything we were hoping the company might raise the lower storage tier, not do away with the highest one. Then again, perhaps the company doesn't think people looking for a 4-inch iPhone are interested in the higher storage allocation.
Best place to buy iPhone SE in the UK: Where to buy the iPhone SE
On 6 April it was revealed that the iPhone SE was sold out and saw stock shortages in the US. Thankfully in the UK we have yet to experience any delays, but as popularity for the phone increases we expect to see the phone being harder to get hold of. Below are suggestions as to where you can buy the 4in iPhone from.
You can buy the iPhone SE direct from Apple now. It’s available in Silver, Gold, Space Grey and Rose Gold. The 16GB option is £359 while the larger 64GB option is £439. If you buy direct from Apple, the phone will come unlocked so you can use it on any UK network.
You buy the iPhone SE SIM-free or on contract from several of the UK’s four main mobile operators. At the moment, EE and Vodafone, Three and O2 are stocking the phone. Remember that if you order from a specific operator, the phone will be initially locked to use on that network, but it is possible to unlock in the future if you decide to switch provider. Here’s a run down of those operators:
You can order the iPhone SE from EE on several price plans here.
One of the best EE deals is the 16GB iPhone SE on a 24 month contract with no upfront handset cost, with 1GB data, unlimited texts and 500 minutes for £29.99 per month. View that deal here.
You can order the SE from Vodafone here. You’ll be able to benefit from Vodafone’s standard 2-month Test Drive, which is unlimited 4G data access.
Three has confirmed that all its network offerings such as free international roaming in 18 countries will stand with the handset. It’ll also come with a free 6-month subscription to music streaming service Deezer.
Carphone Warehouse allows you to order here. A particularly good deal can be found here, where Carphone is offering the 64GB version of the iPhone SE on a 24 month plan for £36 per month with no upfront handset cost. This gets you unlimited calls and texts and an outstanding 11GB of data. You can view that deal here.
Mobiles.co.uk allows you to order here.
If you're ready to order your iPhone SE now, be sure to check out our round-up of the best iPhone SE deals.
Apple iPhone SE UK specification: What to expect from Apple SE
Here's a quick rundown of some of the highlights of Apple's iPhone SE announcement:
Design: It's primarily made of aluminium, with matt chamfered edges. In fact, the design is strongly reminiscent of the iPhone 5s.
Colour options: Like the iPhone 6s handsets, the iPhone SE is available with a Rose Gold finish, alongside silver, gold and Space Grey.
Speed: The 64bit A9 processor chip makes the SE, in Apple's words, "The most powerful 4-inch phone ever". It offers the same speed as iPhone 6s. Indeed, Apple claims the SE is "the most powerful phone with a four-inch display" - speaking generally, not just comparing it with the company's own offerings.
The company further pledges "two times faster CPU and three times faster GPU performance compared to iPhone 5s, all with gains in energy efficiency for improved battery life".
You can use Hey Siri.
Camera: The iPhone SE comes with a rear-facing 12Mp iSight Camera and the 'Retina flash' feature - when you're taking selfies in low light you can make the display flash 3 times brighter than normal to light up the shot. In our experience this isn't as strong as a conventional flash but is a pretty decent substitute.
You can also shoot 4k video with the iPhone SE, and you can edit up to 2 streams of 4k video on the iPhone SE using iMovie. And you get Live Photos.
The iPhone SE's camera is capable of panoramas of up to 63Mp, "video capture up to 60fps for 1080p video and 240fps for slo-mo, time-lapse with video stabilisation and cinematic video stabilisation".
Connectivity: The iPhone SE offers LTE web connectivity that is 50 percent faster than the iPhone 5s.
You get 802.11ac and Wi-Fi calling.
And of course you get Touch ID - something which was offered on Apple's last 4-inch iPhone. But executives seemed to be implying that it was the faster Touch ID component that comes with the iPhone 6s. We'll have to try this out for ourselves.
Apple Pay is built in.
Apple iPhone SE UK teardown: What's inside the 4in iPhone?
A teardown in late March 2016 by Chipworks reveals the internals of the 4in phone. From the teardown it seems that most of the parts used within the phone are older parts which can be found in the iPhone 6s and certain elements relate back to the iPhone 5s.
A few parts are completely new, such as the 16GB flash which is made by Toshiba. Certain elements of the phone have been also redesigned, such as the power management system. Have a look for yourself!
On 4 April IHS, an analyst firm who often perform teardowns and cost analysis of technology around the world, reveal the 4in iPhone SE costs $160 (around £114) to build.
IHS' teardown also confirms a blend of parts, just as Chipworks had discovered earlier in the year. The phone uses components from the 5s, 6 and 6s and also integrates a few new parts.
Interesting enough, the iPhone SE has a lower gross margin on its lower end phones, especially the 16GB variant of the 4in phone.
How to watch iPhone SE launch video: Watch the iPhone SE live stream as it happened
Apple streamed its 21 March launch event live at 5pm UK time. You can still watch it on Apple's website, on an iPad or iPhone, on a Mac, on an Apple TV, or on a PC. For more on this, check our article explaining How to watch the iPhone SE launch event live.
Podcast: Our verdict on the iPhone SE launch
In episode seven of the UK Tech Weekly podcast, we discuss (among other things) our mixed feelings about the iPhone SE launch: it's the first segment of the clip embedded below:
The podcast comes out every Friday. Subscribe if you'd like to listen to more of the same in future.
Turn to the next page to read the pre-release rumours and see how much we got right.