iPhone SE (2020) Review: One Month Later

Normally, this video would be very different. I’d talk about how Apple announced the new iPhone SE a month ago this week, talk about my experiences using it since then.

Tell you how, despite throwing it my pocket with keys and other phones and it sliding off various services with alarming regularity, it was still amazingly scratch and break free.

About how I still miss high dynamic range on the rare occasions I watch movies on my phone, but mostly never notice it’s LCD and not ultra-high density.

That I’ve been spoiled by the iPhone 11 Pro and especially iPhone 11 Pro Max battery life, which gets me a day and a half without breaking a sweat — or breaking out a charger — while the new SE has me in battery saver mode by dinner time pretty much every evening.

How the photos and video are almost as good as the iPhone, it just doesn’t have as much range, especially as you get into very low light and night mode, or dynamic range on high frame rate video.

And how I do miss the full screen display, gesture navigation, and Face ID of more recent iPhones, which I love, but I also see why so many people still love the Home button and Touch ID, especially in the age of masks, and now that I’m not wearing gloves when I go outside… or, you know, going outside.

Normally, this video would be that, but something else happened when the iPhone SE came out, something wonderful and kinda disappointing.

See, for years, there have been some in the community who review mainstream products only to complain that they’re not for pros. That actively get upset when every product isn’t specifically for them. Even if it may be perfect for their parents or kids or significant others.

But, with the iPhone SE, there was an empathy miracle: Most reviewers who themselves would naturally gravitate towards a $1200 iPhone Pro Max said that, for a lot of people, a $400 iPhone SE would be the much better buy.

Most but not all. Because, yeah, there was some pushback. Here’s the gist, paraphrased:

All these iPhone SE reviews:

LOL no, are you joking, I’d never be caught d e d ded using one.

But, for real, it’s the perfect phone for you peasants.

Which, ugh, as cringe-sad as that sentiment is, it hits me on so many levels.

See, I’m a nerd, a geek, a tech-head, and I typically buy the highest end gadgets I can and promptly lose myself in every little implementation detail. And, for many years, that’s what and how I reviewed as well.

But I’ve been working really hard, really conscientiously over the last couple of years to complete change my approach. Why? Because the vast majority of people who buy this stuff aren’t other tech-heads.

They aren’t people who get a dozen new phones to look at every year and never carry anything longer than a few weeks.

They’re people who work very hard for their money and have to stretch it as far as possible. Who keep their phones for 2 to 5 years. Who hand them down to other family members. Who don’t shop based on specs but on value.

They’re my family. And… if they’re not you, they’re probably your family too. Your parents, your kids, your significant others. And, for the most part, they’re completely underserved by today’s tech media.

I mean, can you imagine if this were cars?

All these Toyota and Honda reviews:

LOL no, are you joking, I’d never be caught ded without my jag or lambo, baby.

But, too right, perfect phones for you peasants.

Because, yes, all-caps yes, that’s very literally the advice any petrol-head, any gear head, worth their humanity card should be giving everyone else in their families and this world.

Even and especially if you’ve been reviewing windows since you still had to launch it from the DOS prompt or you flip laptops like Shake Shack back when they still had a lunch rush.

And, you know, it didn’t used to be like this. In fact, Walt Mossberg pioneered the personal technology column at the Wall Street Journal just precisely so it wouldn’t be like this.

So, when Walt joined me on my new podcast this week, I took the opportunity to ask him about it.

The full audio version is up in your favorite podcast app:

🎙 Full Podcast (audio) version:

If you have Nebula or the early access tier of my Patreon you can head on over and watch the entire 40 minute plus video as well.

🙏 Full Podcast (video/Patreon) version:

⭐️ Full Podcast (video/Nebula) version: