Should You Use the iPhone SE for Gaming?

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Apple's 4-inch iPhone

iPhone SE
Apple

After the launch of the iPhone 6 in September 2014, it seemed fairly clear that Apple intended to skew towards a larger handset size for future iterations. The iPhone 6s, released a year later with the same form factor, only seemed to cement this fact.

However, at the Let Us Loop You In Apple Event on March 21, 2016, Apple announced a new, smaller 4-inch smartphone called the iPhone SE.

Despite the company's push to larger devices, Apple sold 30 million 4-inch iPhones in 2015. The iPhone 5s (the previous 4-inch model that Apple produced) still proved incredibly popular among consumers who were making their first smartphone purchase.

With the forward momentum of new device launches leading to the retirement of earlier models, Apple needed a solution to fill the "budget" smartphone space in their lineup, and with the iPhone 5c (their first attempt at a budget model) nearing its third anniversary, there was a need for something newer to fill the void in their product lineup.

How Does the iPhone SE Compare to the iPhone 6s?

Within the frame of gaming, the iPhone SE and iPhone 6s are very much on equal ground, such as in terms of raw horsepower. Both devices sport Apple's super speedy A9 chip, as well as the M9 motion co-processor. These are a little weaker than the chips in the iPad Pro, but aside from that, they're the best chipsets Apple has put in mobile devices to date.

Note: This is the single most important factor when considering which iPhone to buy for gaming reasons.

Beyond the chipset, there are a few compromises that you'll want to be aware of when choosing between an iPhone 6s and an iPhone SE. For example, if you're hoping for 3D Touch in the 4-inch model, you're not going to find it; that's exclusive to the iPhone 6s and newer. 

The screen on the iPhone SE is also slightly inferior, offering a lower contrast ratio and lacking the dual-domain pixels that allow for wider viewing angles. 

However, if you're looking for a bunch of storage space to carry around a wide selection of games, the iPhone SE offers up to 128 GB, just like the iPhone 6s, which is plenty of room for games. Note that newer models after the iPhone 6s support up to 256 GB of storage.

While none of these features (or lack thereof) are deal breakers on their own, they should still be taken into consideration when deciding which iPhone is right for you.

Is the iPhone SE Good for Gamers?

Thanks to the technical prowess and budget pricing of the iPhone SE, with little in the way of compromise, there's nothing to prevent us from giving the 4-inch model of the iPhone a hearty recommendation.

However... it's only 4 inches. While it might seem like a minor difference, and one that ultimately comes down to personal preference, the 4.7-inch display of the iPhone 6s does feel significantly more comfortable for gaming than its smaller counterpart.

If you've graduated from the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5s to the 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone 6s, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which you'd ever want to switch back. Everything just feels so much more substantial on the bigger display.

Also, the only time that the iPhone 6s' 3D Touch has been really impressive has been when it's used in games. 3D Touch in games is so rare that this shouldn't be a consideration when weighing the pros and cons, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention how great it feels to use 3D Touch in games like Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade

The iPhone survived with a 3.5-inch display for most of its life to date, so the debate between 4-inch and 4.7-inch can seem downright trivial when you look at the history of the product line. Plus, it speaks highly of the iPhone SE that screen size is the only factor you need to consider at this point.

Much like the iPhone 6s, the iPhone SE is built to run any game you can throw at it, it's just a little smaller.