Last Updated on 12 January 2021 by Dan
Hello everyone! Today’s post is on a new purchase, the IPhone SE. Now, this may come as a little bit of a surprise – I’ve previously written about my resistance to upgrade cycles and that I generally see SIM only deals on older models as the way to go unless you really feel you need the features.
I thought I’d therefore talk through why the purchase decision, and write a review post with my thoughts on the new model after having a play with it.
I’ve also captured some of the better deals out there at the moment if you are reading this post as you’re thinking of upgrading too!
My argument against Apple’s latest phones have been that they’ve been very good at making the want factor high through their marketing, but the need factor hasn’t been significant for a while – no additions have been ground breaking, just a slightly better screen and camera. I often speak on this site about the need to challenge your spending and if the features of something will add to your life relative to the spend – for me, that hasn’t been the case with IPhones for a while. If you can honestly say it does for you, you do you!
As a result I’ve been carrying around the old model IPhone SE for a good while now, simply because it did everything I needed it to and I couldn’t see any features on the newer models that would provide additional value to me. (In fact quite the opposite – I occasionally use the headphone jack for example which no longer exists on the latest phone).
However, one thing that was becoming a problem was the battery. Now there are options if this is your problem – I was actually booked in to go and see Apple for an appointment to get the replacement right as the Coronavirus hit, then couldn’t make it there as social distancing requirements came into force. Apple’s battery repair service can often be a much better option than upgrading though, as this is people’s most common complaint about their phones.
So given I was mulling over between fix or upgrade, when Apple suddenly announced the IPhone SE a couple of weeks ago at a much lower price point than the existing model, it suddenly made the upgrade choice a lot more credible…..
Wait a minute…. why Apple?
Well the first challenge against the author of any moneysaving site is that any IPhone isn’t exactly in bargain territory! Why go for the Iphone SE when there are plenty of cheaper and very well reviewed Android phones out there on the market?
Well it’s simply a personal thing for me – I’ve owned some of the best rated Android phones out there, and I just find I cannot get used to the operating system – I definitely don’t consider myself a tech Luddite, but frequently found many things weren’t intuitive and that it slowed me down.
I initially wondered if this was just an a problem experienced on older versions of Android, but an up-to-date Android work phone confirmed my feelings haven’t changed…..
Yep, I pay for it. But for me the intuitiveness of iOS and the IPhone is general is something I’m willing to pay out some extra cash for.
Why are you buying the IPhone SE now?
So part of my rationalisation of the purchase came down to future proofing – I’m looking to hold onto a phone for at least another 4 years. The original IPhone SE was doing fine right now if occasionally a little bit slow, but looking forward, I was wondering if it was going to last me that length of time.
That made the decision to upgrade one of timing – if I didn’t upgrade now, (and I wasn’t willing to pay for the more premium Iphones) I realised I’d probably end up getting an IPhone SE at some point in the next couples of years anyhow, and given Apple don’t do major discounts, the price distinction would be negligible.
Why do you think the iPhone SE offers (for Apple!) good value for money?
The key selling point is what’s under the hood – namely the fact that it’s using the same A13 Bionic Chip as the latest IPhone 11. That’s some really good technology for the money as that chip remains cutting edge. I like the fact I’m able to get something relatively long term futureproof for the money, and so “longevity” becomes an instant selling point.
It also includes wireless charging – not an essential but as with many people I know my life is permanently “on charge” and this is a useful feature just to de-clutter a little bit.
The camera is 12-megapixels – not keeping up with the iPhone 11 but Apple’s photography and lighting software is pretty much cutting edge, so provides excellent relative performance. The front camera is a slightly weaker 7MP – but as a photographer I know if I’m taking a photo with my phone it’s a matter of convenience rather than picture quality. If you’re using the camera in your phone a lot, the 11 may be worth it for you.
Other than that, beyond the lack of Face ID, a slightly sleeker design and a slightly bigger screen (shrugs) it’s….pretty similar to the IPhone 11? Most of the other bells and whistles that have been on the other recent IPhones like the ability to use a credit card via NFC remain.
The one thing that isn’t different is the price though…
Buying the IPhone 11 SIM-only in the 64GB version will cost you £729 in the UK at the moment. In contrast the IPhone SE just over 40% cheaper at £420 (again for the 64GB).
That’s a huge difference!
The one fly in the ointment that did slightly put me off is that the IPhone SE is not 5G compatible, which is a shame as this will become more important. For that matter, neither is the IPhone 11, but all rumours suggest that the next IPhone 12 will be enabled for this.
(I’ve just had a flashback to the early IPhones where the inclusion of 3G was marketed as a huge thing – how things change!)
What do you think of it?
After a day of playing with it I really like it and am glad I got the upgrade!
The screen is definitely the main thing I’ve noticed. Apart from being slightly larger than the old IPhone SE, it’s notably clearer with much more “pop” from the colours coming out. Images and text have a much clearer definition – whilst not a be all and end all, nice when we do increasing amounts of web browsing on our phones.
I’ve tried taking a few photos and been impressed with the quality. Even on the old phone, I never had issues with how images looked on the phone itself, but found if I tried to blow them up in size on my computer the quality to deteriorate fast. No such issues with the new IPhone SE.
There’s a definite speed improvement there as well, all of my apps are running much more smoothly.
It has a slightly different “feel” to the old iPhone SE, particularly in relation to the Home button which doesn’t really push in the same way – this is such a minor thing but it’ll take a bit of getting used to!
What are the best and cheapest deals available on the IPhone SE at the moment?
(All prices are correct at time of writing – 24/04/2020. If you follow our links the Wilderness may make a small commission on any sale, but this won’t affect the deal your get or the service you receive, and is very appreciated).
I went SIM free, purchasing a 64GB through Carphone Warehouse for £419, which included a years free Apple TV+ and 3 months of free Apple Music. Otherwise you’re simply not going to get any SIM free deals better than the retail price on a few phone.
There are some excellent contract deals out there, but I wanted to stay on my SIM-only deal with Three where for £10 a month I get 8GB of data and unlimited call and text, including international use – helpful for me as I travel quite a bit. (You can actually get a similar fantastic deal through fonehouse with a similar package for £8 at the moment which is stupidly good – I’ll be switching to this).
In the contract space there appears to be a clear leader and that’s Sky Mobile who are offering some excellent deals. I think their best is offering 8GB of data with unlimited minutes and texts for £21 a month. Worked out, that’s more beneficial than most SIM-free deals if you’re willing to be tied in to a longer contract.
If you are willing to take this contract, this is the best thing I’ve seen on the market. You don’t have to be a Sky Customer to use it. Sky piggybacks off O2’s network which generally gets a good reputation.
If you’re a large data user, I might consider some of Vodafone’s packages being offered by Carphone Warehouse (generally better than going with Vodaphone directly) – they’re offering 18 GB for £30 upfront and then £29 per month, or a hefty 75GB for £35 a month.
I think Id Mobile are another great choice – they have a hefty package of 20GB of data with unlimited calls and text for £9.99 up front and then £29.99 per month. If you’re a lighter data user, those packages start from £23.99 a month. IdMobile piggyback off the Three network so you’re going to be getting similar available as you would if direct with Three.
Have you seen a better deal? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll include it here. Equally if you have thoughts on the IPhone SE, let us know!