iPhone SE 1st
iPhone SE 1st

The iPhone SE, or Special Edition, marked a return to the beloved design of the smaller 4-inch iPhones. Released in 2016, this compact and affordable alternative catered to users preferring a smaller device. Apple equipped the iPhone SE with many features found in the more upscale iPhone 6s, including the powerful A9 processor, while maintaining the familiar form factor of the iPhone 5s. Despite its smaller size, the iPhone SE does not compromise on performance. It boasts a 12MP camera capable of capturing stunning photos and 4K video, a marked improvement from earlier generations. With its comprehensive technical capabilities and the inclusion of Apple’s Touch ID for secure authentication, the iPhone SE challenges the notion that one needs a large device for a premium smartphone experience.

iPhone SE (1st Gen): A Compact Powerhouse Still Holding Its Own in 2024


The original iPhone SE, released in 2016, made a splash with its combination of a small form factor and flagship-level performance. It quickly became a favorite for those who preferred smaller phones or sought a more affordable entry into the iOS ecosystem.

Design and Display

The SE’s design is a throwback to the iPhone 5 era, featuring a compact 4-inch Retina display with a resolution of 1136 x 640 pixels. While some may find the bezels chunky by today’s standards, the phone’s overall build quality remains solid and comfortable to hold. The smaller size makes it easy to use one-handed and slip into a pocket.

Performance and Software

The SE packs the same A9 chip found in the iPhone 6S, delivering smooth performance for everyday tasks and even demanding games. Despite its age, the SE can still handle most modern apps with ease. However, software updates have become limited, with iOS 15 being the final major update.


The SE’s 12MP rear camera may not boast the latest features, but it still captures sharp and detailed photos in good lighting. The camera also supports 4K video recording at 30fps. While low-light performance is lacking compared to newer models, the SE’s camera remains a reliable tool for everyday photography.

Battery Life

The SE’s battery life is its weakest point, often struggling to last a full day with moderate to heavy use. Users who rely on their phones for extended periods may need to carry a charger or portable battery pack.


Display4-inch Retina display (1136 x 640)
ProcessorA9 chip
Storage16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
Rear Camera12MP
Front Camera1.2MP
BatteryNon-removable Li-Ion
Dimensions123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm
Weight113 g

Who Should Buy It?

The iPhone SE (1st Gen) is a great option for those who:

  • Prefer smaller phones
  • Want a budget-friendly iPhone
  • Prioritize performance over the latest features
  • Don’t mind limited software updates


  • iPhone SE (2nd Gen or 3rd Gen): Offers a newer design, better camera, and longer software support.
  • iPhone 12 mini or 13 mini: Provides a more modern design with better cameras and longer battery life, albeit at a higher price.
  • Used or refurbished iPhones: Can be a more affordable way to get a newer model.

Final Thoughts

While the iPhone SE (1st Gen) shows its age in some areas, it remains a capable and affordable smartphone for those who value its compact size and reliable performance.

Key Takeaways

  • The iPhone SE integrates high-end features into a compact 4-inch design.
  • It houses the A9 chip and a 12MP camera, offering robust performance and capabilities.
  • Apple’s inclusion of Touch ID in the SE provides advanced security in a small format.

Technical Specifications and Features

The iPhone SE 1st generation brought a compact form factor with the power of advanced internal hardware reminiscent of the iPhone 6s. It catered to the segment of users looking for a smaller and less costly iPhone but without a significant compromise on performance and quality.

Design and Build Quality

The iPhone SE features a beloved classic design with an aluminum body that’s light and compact. Dimensions of 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm and weight of 113 grams make it notably easy to handle. Its build quality is robust, given its lineage, borrowing cues from the iPhone 5s, finished with Space Gray, Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold.

Hardware and Performance

Powered by the Apple A9 chip, the iPhone SE’s hardware matches the iPhone 6s with a dual-core processor and embedded M9 motion coprocessor. There’s unyielding performance with options of 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB storage. RAM sits at 2GB, and it features a 4-core GPU for graphics. Battery life is resilient considering the phone’s age.

Display and Camera

The 4-inch Retina display boasts a resolution of 1136 x 640 pixels, at a pixel density of 326 ppi. For photography, it offers a 12 MP rear camera with capabilities such as Live Photos and 4K video recording at 30 fps. The front faces with a 1.2 MP camera with Retina Flash, signaling modest, yet capable imaging technology.

Software and Ecosystem

Out of the box, the iPhone SE runs iOS 9.3, but it’s eligible for updates that significantly extend its usability over time. The integration with the Apple ecosystem allows it to work seamlessly with Macs, iPads, and Apple Watch, providing an interconnected experience.

Connectivity and Sensors

The device includes essential sensors like Touch ID integrated into the Home button, an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, and proximity sensor, among others. Connectivity options are comprehensive, with support for NFC (for Apple Pay), GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, and LTE for fast internet access.

Media Capabilities

The iPhone SE provides media capabilities with support for playback of 720p and 1080p videos. Its speaker system and microphone enable clear audio for calls and media. The Lightning connector, a standard for Apple devices, ensures seamless synchronization and charging.

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