As the rumor mill had predicted, Apple started the party by unveiling an updated version of the company’s cheapest phone: the iPhone SE.
Like its predecessor, the new iPhone SE looks the same as before. It still has an iPhone 8 design, which means that the touch ID button below the screen is still there and the screen edges are significantly larger than on the more modern iPhones we have encountered in recent years.
But even though the design has remained the same, a lot has changed on the inside. The new iPhone SE is equipped with the company’s A15 Bionic processor, which is exactly the same one you’ll find in the far more expensive iPhone 13 models Apple released last fall.
That means, of course, that the iPhone SE is lightning fast in use, but it also has a number of other advantages that you might not think relate to processing power.
Just like the iPhone SE, the iPad Air is getting a long-awaited performance upgrade. The thin and colorful iPad now has the company’s super-powerful M1 chip inside. In other words, the same processor that the company put into the iPad Pro last year is also used in several of the company’s Macs and MacBooks.
According to Apple, this means that this year’s iPad Air will have 60% better performance than its predecessor and twice as good graphics performance.
In addition to the M1 processor, the iPad Air will get 5G support (if you pay for the 5G variant) as well as a long-awaited upgrade to the front-facing camera. It’s been upgraded to a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera and now supports the company’s “Center Stage” feature.
This is a handy feature for you when using the tablet for video calls because it shifts the focus and camera settings while you are having a call. If you are sitting alone at a table, the camera zooms in on your face. If one or more people are talking around you, the camera zooms out to capture everyone.
The screen refresh rate, which is still at 60 Hz, may disappoint a lot of iPad Air fans out there, but I suspect the company did that on purpose to differentiate from last year’s iPad Pro.
Even though the camera and battery are technically the same as the previous iPhone SE, this year’s model will last longer and take better pictures. According to the Apple spokesperson who unveiled the new phone, the longer battery life is due to design changes inside the phone, improved battery chemistry, and a more energy-efficient processor.
The camera will also take better pictures, as the advanced processor can better assess what the subject looks like in a dark environment and calculate that for better images. Features like Deep Fusion are also available in the iPhone SE, a feature previously reserved for the company’s most expensive models.
Apple has also added 5G support to the iPhone SE. That’s definitely a positive thing to future-proof your phone a bit, even though you probably will not get much use out of it from day one. But faster download and upload speeds and lower lags are always good in any case.
The iPhone SE is available in three colors – black, white, and red – and will be available starting March 18.
In the US, the price has been increased by $30 from $399 to $429.