RTC Many readers were with Mike Harbour in response to our recent piece about iPhone budget options. In the wake of the September demise of iOS support for the iPhone 6, many consumers are scrambling for an alternative.
“I saw no mention of the SE, the little wonder that will be supported by iOS 13,” noted Harbour, of Fort Worth, Texas. “They’re even cheaper used than iPhone 8 models on eBay; I bought one last month.”
This is true. In our article, we were looking at the available iPhone options currently being sold by Apple – the iPhone 7 and 8 – and the most current entry-level model, the $750 iPhone XR.
The SE was discontinued by Apple last September. While clearance models periodically show up on Apple’s website, the SE is currently unavailable on Apple.com.
But Harbour is right. There are still plenty of SE units available, both new and used, all over the web in the $150 to $200 range. That’s a good fifth of the cost of a new XR, Apple’s lowest-priced larger and more powerful, entry-level model.
Let’s take a good look at the SE.
The SE was introduced in March 2016 as a small, budget option for iPhone consumers who preferred a compact 4-inch handset to the newer, larger 4.7-inches and up phones. It was originally priced at $399.
The SE is a retro iPhone lover’s dream. It still has the coveted headphone jack, long gone from current iPhone models, a Home button and Touch ID, both of which have been discontinued on the current X series of phones.
The most recent SE sold for $350, with 32 GB of storage, an A9 processing chip (the same one as on the iPhone 6), 12-megapixel camera and ability to interact with Siri and use Apple Pay.
The 2018 introduced iPhones – the XS, XS Max and XR – have a more powerful A12 chip, which is designed for gamers, augmented reality and apps that require a lot of processing power, likerecording long slow-motion videos and viewing them immediately.
Need a new (older) iPhone? The differences are slight among XR and earlier models
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While Apple is currently out of stock for the SE, others offer new and used versions:
—Amazon has a used SE with 64 GB of storage for $149.
—Walmart’s model is $109, but it has only 16 GB of storage.
—Target’s model is tied to a pre-paid phone plan from Simple Mobile, has 32 GB of storage and sells for $125.
—eBay offers several new models for $179.76.
Compared to the older iPhones being offered by Apple on its website, this is quite a bargain. The iPhone 7, which has a larger 4.7-inch screen and slightly more powerful A10 chip, starts at $449 with 32 GB of storage. It was first released in 2016, the same year as the SE.
The more recent iPhone 8 (released in 2018) starts at $599 with 64 GB of storage, an A11 chip, same 12-megapixel camera and 4.7-inch screen.
Apple also sells the larger 6.1-inch iPhone XR ($750), the 5.8-inch XS ($999) and 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max ($1,099.), as well as the Plus size models of the 7 ($569 and 5.5 inches) and 8 (5.5 inches and $699.)
The downside to buying an SE is that Apple support seems likely to disappear for the product in the coming year or two. Every fall, the company releases an update to its iOS operating system, which supports new phones and a handful of older models. Last year, the iPhone 5S was knocked off the list; this year, it’s the iPhone 6. Apple would be expected to ditch the iPhone 6S and SE next year.
Apple is expected to release three new editions of the iPhone in September, with analysts touting a faster processing chip and three camera lenses, instead of two for the current Plus versions. The third lens is expected to be a super wide-angle, to fit more folks into your selfie.
Readers: have questions about buying an iPhone? Reach out to us on Twitter, @jeffersongraham