iPhone SE Hardware & Software Features

iPhone SE
image credit: Apple Inc.

Introduced: March 21, 2016
Released: March 31, 2016
Discontinued: n/a, still being sold

Historically, Apple has released its new iPhone models once a year, often in the fall. That changed with the release of the iPhone SE. But the release schedule isn't the only big change. After two generations of larger phones—the 6 and 6S-Series (and continued with the 7-Series) have screens that are 4.7 inches or bigger—the SE brings a 4-inch screen back to the line up of new iPhone models.

It can be helpful to think of the iPhone SE as being an iPhone 6s in the body of a 5S. This isn't completely accurate, as we'll see, but it puts you in the right mindset.

Why Apple Is Releasing the iPhone SE

The release of a new 4-inch iPhone in 2016 comes as a surprise after two years of larger phones and the gradual phasing out of older, 4-inch models. Apple's introduction of the SE seems to stem from two major drivers:

  1. Emerging Markets—Apple sees huge opportunities to gain new customers in populous emerging markets like India and China, but its larger, more expensive phones have limited audiences there. By offering a powerful, smaller, more affordable phone, it hopes to capture more customers in those regions.
  2. Slow 6/6S Upgrades—In Apple's most recently quarterly earnings conference call, CEO Tim Cook revealed that 60% of iPhone owners haven't yet upgraded to the iPhone 6 series or 6S series. It is assumed that some of this reluctance is driven by people preferring a 4-inch screen. Apple hopes that the SE will prompt these users to upgrade.

    iPhone SE Hardware Features

    Key hardware features of the iPhone SE include:

    • Apple A9 64-bit processor
    • M9 motion co-processor
    • NFC (near-field communication) and Apple Pay support
    • Touch ID fingerprint scanner
    • Faster 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, including 802.11ac compatibility


    • 4 inches
    • 1136 x 640 pixels, at 326 pixels per inch, same as the iPhone 5S
    • Not a 3D Touch screen


    Back Camera

    • Photos: 12 megapixel, panoramic photos up to 63 megapixels
    • Video: 4K video at 30 frames/per second (fps); 1080p HD at 30 or 60 fps; Slo-mo at 120 fps (1080p) or 240 fps (720p)

    User-Facing Camera

    • Photos: 1.2 megapixel
    • Video: 720p HD recording
    • Use phone screen as camera flash

    Battery Life

    • Talk: up to 14 hours 3G calling
    • Internet: up to 13 hours on LTE and Wi-Fi
    • Video: up to 13 hours
    • Audio: up to 50 hours
    • Standby: up to 10 days


    • Gold
    • Rose Gold
    • Silver
    • Space Gray

    Size and Weight 

    • 4.87 inches tall x 2.31 inches wide x 0.30 inches thick
    • 3.99 ounces 

    iPhone SE Software Features

    The iPhone SE supports all of the common software features available on all current iPhones, such as FaceTime, iMessage, Wi-Fi calling, etc., and adds:

    Capacity and Price



    The iPhone SE was updated in early 2017 with higher storage capacities (no price increase) and is currently available at Apple and all carrier stores.

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