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Apple Announces Second-Generation iPhone SE Starting at $399

The second-generation iPhone SE comes in black, white and PRODUCT(RED)
The second-generation iPhone SE comes in black, white and PRODUCT(RED). Image via

Apple today announced a new iPhone designed to provide high performance at a low price point. The second-generation iPhone SE starts at $399 and will be available for pre-order beginning this Friday, April 17.

Available in black, white and PRODUCT(RED), the phone is outfitted with an A13 Bionic chip and a 4.7-inch Retina HD display with True Tone. The front of all of the phones is all black, with a rear glass finish and a color-matched aluminum band.

Apple is touting IP67 water- and dust-resistance, which means that the phone can stay submerged in water one meter deep for 30 minutes. For security, the iPhone SE uses Touch ID.

The A13 Bionic system-on-chip is focused on machine learning, with an 8-core Neural Engine rated at 5 trillion operations per second, two Machine Learning Accelerators, and a Machine Learning Controller. The company says that the A13 Bionic (also used in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro) aids in high-end photography, gaming and augmented reality experiences.

The new iPhone SE boasts the best single-camera system on an iPhone. Image via
The new iPhone SE boasts the best single-camera system on an iPhone. Image via

The new iPhone SE has what Apple refers to as “the best single-camera system ever in an iPhone”, with a fast f/1.8 aperture Wide camera. Thanks to the A13 Bionic, this “low-end” phone has Portrait Mode, all Portrait Lighting effects, and Depth Control. Smart HDR also comes to this inexpensive member of the iPhone line.

Storage capacities of 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB are available. The 64GB model begins at the aforementioned $399, 128GB is available starting at $449, and the 256GB model starts at a very affordable $549. Trade-ins of older iPhone models can drop the prices up to $170.

The iPhone SE has wireless charging built-in and is capable of being charged to 50 percent in 30 minutes. Wi-Fi 6 and Gigabit-class LTE are standard in the device, as is a dual SIM with eSIM for having two phone numbers on a single device.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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  • I have a 64GB iPhone SE from 2015-16 that works really well for me from a size standpoint. Is the new iPhone SE the same size or bigger than my phone at 4.7 inches? (The new one seems to be bigger, which is probably a deal-breaker.)

  • I need a new phone, but the SE misses the mark. I love everything about it minus the camera. Without Night Mode it is no real world improvement over buying an iPhone 8.

    I’ll continue waiting for the iPhone 11 to be replaced so I can pick one up on sale.

  • I purchased a refurbished iPhone SE from Apple in February of 2018. Last year, with slightly over 18 months of use I noticed the battery rapidly losing power and crashing. In December I took it into the 5th Avenue NYC Apple store, was seen by a “Genius Bar” Apple tech who tested my battery, concluded it was within normal capacity but cautioned me that because I was now running iOS 12.4.1 the battery issue would keep happening and there was nothing they could do about it. And he went so far as to tell me that if I upgraded to iOS 13 the device I had purchased less than two years previously would certainly enter an irreversible crash and the phone would be bricked. He repeated this to my incredulous questioning several times, each time shrugging his shoulders and basically indicating there was now a four year limit from time of introduction after which any device would be rendered unworkable via software “upgrades”. I know these devices weren’t made to last forever, but I find this kind of sneaky disregard for the environment and for customer satisfaction totally unacceptable. Would be curious to know if others who have possible had similar experiences with the original SE, which was a very fine device.

    • Never “upgrade” an Apple device’s OS until the next upgrade comes out, and you have determined that the upgrade in question is compatible with your other devices. Apple tricked me once, forcing me to upgrade to Yosemete (the meanest varmint north, south, east or west of the Pecos). I’m still running Sierra on the Macs and iOS 12 on my iPhone SE. I won’t downgrade to High Sierra until Sierra is no longer supported.

      What most Apple users have failed to understand is that Apple is now Big Brother. Trust them at your peril.

      • Ross, you’re absolutely right. And I always avoided upgrading. What I recall happening was I needed to transfer data, etc. from another SE to the newer (refurbished) one, and somehow in the process they forced me to upgrade the newer refurbished one or the task wouldn’t complete. What they of course failed to tell me was that the “newer” version would cripple my battery. Big Brother is right! As The Who so aptly put “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!”.

        • Gee, I guess I’m not just a prophet crying in the wilderness … 8-D

          If I was twenty years younger I’d be learning Linux.

    • I have a 2016 64 GB iPhone SE (model #MLMD2LL/A) that is still going strong.

      The battery was losing capacity last year so I had it replaced by a local independent Apple phone repair guy and it started behaving better.

      I had a recent hiccup (a month ago?) during the upgrade to iOS 13.4.1 but an Apple-Support-assisted resent cleared out the “insufficient space available” error message and temporary situation.

  • As a tech goober, I haven’t paid for a smartphone (iPhone) since it’s inception. I always got a hand-me-down from someone else that upgraded because I can’t afford new. This does look VERY enticing! I also never do a signed yearly contract with my cell provider. I’ve found that if you own the phone, you have much more pull when asking for your cell provider to fix something. Might have to buy this phone outright, after reading a few more consumer reviews!

  • I have a first generation SE . Been waiting for replacement. I would bet I am not alone in waiting to upgrade without breaking the bank. Went with the 128gb mid-memory model when I ordered on the 17th. Usually not a early buyer on new phone but I am pretty sure I will not be disappointed. The case is already waiting as is the seen protector. While part of the appeal of the original SE was the size, the new one is still reasonable by the standards of today. At least the new case fits in my pants pocket without issue. I think The new SE should be successful especially on paper. The camera may not be the greatest but we shall see how it fares and I guess you cannot expect the best camera in a phone at the price level.

  • I have an original iPhone SE. What makes it special is the size. It is easy to carry in a pocket. The new version is an updated iPhone 8. It is not an equivalent to SE. I have no idea what Apple is thinking. This makes no sense at all.

    • It makes sense to people who aren’t prepared to pay a four-figure sum for a new phone.

    • This accomplishes two things:

      A fairly well-equipped device for not a lot of money;
      A small device compared to the iPhone X, XI, etc.

      I too liked the gen 1 SE; though it is difficult to do some tasks on the small screen, I appreciated the easy pocketing, the long battery life, the relatively low price for decent guts. This 2nd gen SE is smaller than the other iPhones available, and a lot less expensive. I’ve found the iPhone 8 to be on the acceptable edge of pocketability, so it looks like the SE would be a workable replacement.

    • I’m with Marc on this one. What I would like is an iPhone the size my SE that folds like the old flip phones.

  • I am standing here beside myself. Utterly gobsmacked. APPLE ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING RIGHT!!!! They may even have listened to their customer base … nah, must have been a magnetic monopole event.

    I may even buy one

    • At this price, this phone must be a G4 phone. It will be obsolete as soon as 5G becomes widely available.
      Can anybody confirm?

      • 5G is supposed to be one of the new features of Apple’s next annual phone release, which might be delayed now that COVID-19 has disrupted all aspects of business worldwide. Apple’s quarterly earnings report is due out later this month so they might shed some light on forward guidance and release schedules, but that’s anyone’s guess.

        The original SE was designed as a low-cost alternative to their top of the line expensive devices, combining externals of older generation phones with the internals of newer phones, but not necessarily including all the functionality and technology of their flagship models. This continues with this version as well. For instance, even though it’s got the latest A13 chip inside you’ll still miss out on Face ID with this new SE.

        IOW if you really need/want 5G and the other latest & greatest features you should save up your cash and wait for the more expensive phones to be announced later this year.

      • Correct that 5G is not supported. That said, not a single Apple phone currently does. As of the release of the iPhone 11 Pro, the only 5G chipset available was the Qualcomm X50. The Qualcomm 5G modems and antennae were finicky and prone to overheating. I expect Apple to wait until a more reliable modem becomes available.

      • Read the specs. Yes it is a G4/LTE phone. That doesn’t make it obsolete as soon as G5 comes out. I’m upgrading from a 6S Plus. I wanted the TouchID. I’m getting upgraded camera and processor. I will have it for a good number of years.