It's tempting to call out the iPhone SE as the last of a dying breed. After all, it's essentially the same as the older iPhone 5s right down to the bulky size compared to the newer iPhone 6s.
Removing it from the packing materials, you might wonder if Apple stepped back in time. Samsung and even Apple have moved on to make bigger phones that work great with the Netflix app.
Yet, I had to take a step back and realize this is a phone for a subset of users. People with smaller hands, kids and teens, or those who just prefer a smaller device that fits nicely in your pocket or purse will appreciate the compact design. The iPhone SE is only 3.99-ounces compared to 4.55 for the iPhone 6s, yet both phones share the same speedy A9 processor.
However, that's not the best reason to pick this model.
I had to do a double-take after testing since last Friday when my review model arrived. The SE somehow lasted all weekend of occasional use and has lasted pretty much all day during my normal work hours. With the iPhone 6s, I used to charge up after dinner before starting to use the much maligned Smart Battery Case, which has one redeeming quality (that is, it uses the same lightning port as the phone). Most reviewers have also noticed the longer battery life.
How is this possible? Remember that a phone does a delicate balancing act. A bigger phone can use a larger battery, but suddenly you've got to keep that glorious 4.7-inch screen thumping along. The iPhone SE has a 4-inch screen, so Netflix will make you squint. However, I adjusted my thinking the more I used it. You can slip it into a pocket and barely notice the size. I used Siri (especially the feature that lets you talk to the phone without removing it from your pocket) more to issue voice commands.
Now, just to be clear, this is not a phone that's suited for me. I have bigger hands, so typing was a bit of a problem. I let one of my kids try the phone and she said it worked much better than the Samsung Note 5 she normally uses. The 12-megapixel camera is a major upgrade from the 5c if that's the phone you normally use. The SE also shoots 4K video like the 6s. (Word of warning here -- if you get the 16GB model instead of the 64GB model, you can fill up your phone fast. Also, to actually watch the videos in 4K, you need something like the Apple iMac 27-inch.)
For the size, the SE is loaded with the latest Apple innovations. It has a fingerprint sensor, which you can use with Apple Pay to make purchases at stores like Walgreens. The model I tested with AT&T never had any connection issues and maintain a steady LTE data signal.
For those wondering about the step back in time, the SE has some bulk. Place it on a table next to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the SE looks like it's from 2013. The iPhone 6s is thinner as well and noticeably more attractive. About the only design change you'll discover is that Apple offers the SE in Rose Gold--hardly a feature that will stun your co-workers but at least a slight change.
I like this one for its intended purpose. Small and compact, maybe a good second phone, long-lasting with a fast processor and a good camera. And, by the way, it costs $399 which is $250 less than the iPhone 6s. You get a smaller phone with the same internal components, better battery life, and it's pocket friendly.