Apple Announces New $399 iPhone SE With A13 Bionic Processor

Posted on April 15, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, Mobile, iOS with 60 Comments

After a long wait, Apple is today revealing the next-generation of its most affordable iPhone. The company is launching the new iPhone SE, and it will be available for pre-order this Friday, starting at $399.

Apple’s new iPhone SE includes the “fastest chip in a smartphone.” And that’s no surprise — the iPhone SE actually includes the same processor as the iPhone 11 line, which is a big deal for a phone that costs only $399. Apple says the A13 Bionic on the iPhone SE will allow for improved photography, gaming, and AR experiences.

The new device features a 4.7-inch Retina HD display with True Tone. It doesn’t include Face ID, so you are only getting Touch ID here. But more importantly, the device is IP67 water (up to 1 meter for 30 minutes) and dust resistance.

The camera on the device is a single 12MP wide camera sensor on the back with f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization. Apple says the camera makes use of the A13 Bionic’s Neural Engine for features like Portrait Mode and Depth Control. It also includes Smart HDR and QuickTake support, just like the iPhone 11. The camera is capable of recording 4K video @ 60fps as well. The selfie camera is a 7MP lens.

Apple says the new iPhone SE’s battery lasts about the same as the iPhone 8, promising up to 13 hours of video playback. The device includes fast-charging capabilities and can charge up to 50% in just 30 minutes when charged with an 18W adapter. The device offers dual SIM capabilities with eSIM.

Apple has not disclosed how much RAM there is on the new iPhone SE, but there are three different storage options: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. Pre-orders open this Friday, and shipments start on April 24.

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Comments (60)

60 responses to “Apple Announces New $399 iPhone SE With A13 Bionic Processor”

  1. echorelay

    All variants are dual SIM, no? Nano SIM + eSIM?

  2. Andi

    Ordinary users might not care but A13 is the best mobile soc available. At 400$ this is a true flagship killer. However what holds it back it is the presumed 3GB RAM which is the real governor of a phone's day to day performance. The battery is also much smaller at 1700, the camera lacks night mode, the display to body ratio does not allow for a comfortable look. Still, a great package and hopefully puts the squeeze on Android pricing which has got out of hand.

    • zeratul456

      In reply to Andi:

      What holds it back for me is the tiny screen.

    • irfaanwahid

      In reply to Andi:

      iOS has always been very efficient in memory management. It has used 3GB ram for quite a while and performance is never an issue.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to irfaanwahid:

        While this may be correct, there are applications (such as AI) needing as much RAM as possible.

        • Jeffsters

          In reply to RobertJasiek:

          Which is why you buy a different model if that’s important to you?

          • RobertJasiek

            In reply to Jeffsters:

            For the specific application of Go AI , A13 is a compromise. Less RAM means the AI will make its well known types of mistakes a bit more frequently. For them to become infrequent, I'd rather need a desktop gaming PC with 2x Nvidia 2080 Ti etc. The AI is learning; in a few years, these mistakes might vanish on current gaming PC hardware but not on A13.

            With SE (2020), I would know to buy into a compromise package. Since I know the nature of the AI mistakes, I could accept the compromise for the price. The problem really is the iOS file management; the best AI is useless if I cannot manage its output well.

            So different model means jumping to €800 ~ €3000 for a gaming PC. The higher end would be more appropriate, technically speaking.

            FYI, Go AI uses neural nets and the like but no 3D image processing. It just happens that GPUs and TPUs are the most suitable.

  3. Fuller1754

    Hardware wise, I basically love what Apple is offering here. Man, I tell you what I would love to see. I'd love to see an Android device with very respectable processor, memory, display, built-in storage capacity, and battery, with a display size like this. Between 4 and 4.8 inches. Why oh why, can't we have this? Nobody makes the phone I really want.

  4. eric_rasmussen

    Personally I wish they would have made the screen slightly larger, around 5.3", but otherwise this thing seems like a really great deal.

    EDIT:. I should have watched the video first. ? The small size is one of the advertised features of the device.

  5. RobertJasiek

    In reply to nbplopes:

    I make my calculations and they are different. For me, a smartphone is a tertiary device so that the expense per day must be lower. For comparison, my primary device is €0.1 per day. 2/3 of the expense for an SE (2020) would be for the CPU and its extra use for AI gaming.

    In the old days, upgrading Windows PCs was difficult but since W7 hardware support has often been very good and W10 upgrades likely possible. Linux runs are epic I have heard.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Your viewpoints don't map at all to the mainstream. At all. And that's fine. You can live your life the way you want. But when you talk about a phone being a tertiary device, I'm curious what the point is. The phone is the primary device for virtually everyone now and is the only device for many. You should just respect that and move on.
      • red77star

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        I still have flip phone and I am more productive and do more in life than any idiot with $1500 phone. Whatever is mainstream these days, it means it is wrong.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        I respect that the (smart)phone is the primary device for many (would not say "everyone" though), a mainstream exists and currently I am not in it. (I might have been in the mainstream in the late 90s.)

        The problem is that mainstream changes like fashion, not everybody likes all fashion and the manufacturers of mobile devices offer too few alternatives for people outside a year's current mainstream. E.g., first 4:3 prevailed (in TV and notebooks), then 16:9 prevailed, now 2:1 and taller prevails (in smartphones).

        Asking "to move on" means asking, e.g., people reading a lot to use 2:1 smartphones, travel with large, easily breakable devices (imagine rucksacks) or not read at all on electronic devices during travel.

        The current supply market of mobile devices is fundamentally wrong. While everybody can buy the preferred PC, car or book, not everybody can buy a mobile device meeting his preferences. This is not a state to take for granted ("move on") forever. Instead it is something deserving fundamental and lasting change. Also in the interest of the manufacturers, who could sell roughly 40% more by offering a wider range of products (Lenovo and HP partly attempt to do so).

        We see initiatives for change but need to await when some succeed and emerge: smartphones with Linux, dual boot with Windows etc.

        Although it is only a tertiary device for me, you might underestimate my potential of its usage now that CPUs start to be interesting for AI (if only the file management was equally powerful).

        • Philotech Mueller

          In reply to RobertJasiek:

          Out of curiosity, I would be interested what your primary device is at a cost of 10ct a day or EUR 36 per year. I mean, I kept my old base-model iMac forever (i.e. 11 years), and even disregarding all upgrade costs that would have equaled 42ct per day.

          Otherwise, I agree that just going on isn't always the way to go. I had never understood the appeal of the letterbox screens (16:10 or even 16:9) with laptops, and after just 20 years or so the industry just starts returning to 3:2 or similar more useful aspect ratios.

          • RobertJasiek

            In reply to Philotech:

            I have rounded a bit. Think more of €40 per year.

            My previous self-built PC reused an older SSD (new expense €0), a passive cooling case, passive CPU cooler (expense €15 for technical adapation to new mainboard layout) and heatpipes. So I bought an ATX mainboard (€50?), Core i3-530 (€130?), 2 GB RAM (€40?) and W7 Pro license (€140, because my Vista would not run on the new board), heat paste (€2). I do not recall if I reused the ATX power supply. I do not recall all individual prices correctly. Altogether my new expense must have been roughly €340 ~ €400.

            My current PC of last year is a passive MSI Cubi barebone (called "Silent 3" or so) with Core i3-7100U and power supply (€260), 8 GB S0-RAM (€46), 500 GB M.2 SSD (almost €100) and W7 key converted to W10 e-key (€0), sum ca. €400.

            Both PCs have been good enough for office tasks and modest graphics / video editing. If I bought an SSD now, I would choose one with good 4K values and low idle consumption but my Samsung SSD is good enough. Of course i3 is a bit slow on the first third of a second of a heavy task. If you want it more fluid, you might have to spend more for i5 and come more in the €500 range. A i3 model with low TDP values is good for passive cooling though, and 7100U was the best of that generation for that purpose, I think.

            • Philotech Mueller

              In reply to RobertJasiek:

              Thanks for elaborating on the devices! But you do see that reusing old material and not accounting for it is kind of cheating? My phone cost me 0.00 EUR per day or year! Really! It was a gift ;-)

              Anyway, do you actually use your PCs for 10 years? And if you're using low-end PCs not at all usable for AI, why do you expect your phone to be rather high-end (albeit with a small screen) and be suitable for AI?

              In the end it is all about matching expectations and market offerings. Phones are neither PCs nor cars, and it just does not make any sense to support phones (for free!) for such a long period as they are not used that long by 99.9% of the people, hence there are no options available on the market.

              • RobertJasiek

                In reply to Philotech:

                You can call reusing older components "cheating" but it is a great advantage of PCs that this is possible to some extent due to modularity. I might even have reused my SSD again but wanted a bigger one so did spend the ca. €100.

                Before my previous PC, I had early computers, notebooks and a preassembled passively cooled PC. All of those would not last that long. But for my previous PC, I had gathered enough experience to choose wisely and assemble carefully so it lasted 9.5 years to be precise. Nowadays, there is no need any more for complicated assembly of passive PCs because tiny barebones are available. Comparing the build quality of my current MSI, I can only say: it is much better built than anything I had before. Therefore, I expect 10 years and plan to use it for that period.

                AI is different animal. Go (the game) AI has become available for private use only recently. To use it well, 2 of the fastest consumer graphics cards, i7 with 6+ cores, 12+GB RAM would be appropriate if one could afford it. So to really build a go gaming PC, one should spend €800 ~ €3000. I have none yet so rely on my on thinking as a fairly strong player. Apple A13 is a compromise: the AI will make certain mistakes but will still be very useful for the skilled player.

                If I bought a smartphone, I could choose between a basic one (€150 would be good enough for me if I accepted Android) and one with A13 to have extra AI functionality (the €300+ excess would be worth it for this purpose if the file management was good to easily manage and export the AI output).

                • Philotech Mueller

                  In reply to RobertJasiek:

                  You kind of mention one of the reasons why phones have a much shorter expected life cycle than PCs yourself: Smartphones are still in their infancy compared to PCs, hence they outdate (technically) much faster, maybe similar to PCs in the 1990s. Back then, you could not use a PC after 5 years or so unless you sticked to MS-DOS and b/w text-based screens while everybody else switched to Windows and colorful 12" EGA monitors ;-)

    • Fuller1754

      In reply to RobertJasiek: Phone for me is a secondary device. Primary device is a PC. Phones allow for convenient access to web and email on the go when you don't have your PC. Mostly, though, they're for text messages, calls, and music/podcasts ... and checking the weather. Bottom line: I'll pay a premium for a good laptop and leave about $300 for a phone, which should last three years. However, I like the form factor of this iPhone SE a lot. Finally, something modern that's not the size of one of Charlton Heston's tablets of commandments. I might go for it. Still thinking about it. I've been an Android guy up till now (obviously, with a 300 dollar budget!).

  6. paradyne

    Won't touch Apple stuff myself, but I know people who will love this because it's just the right size for them (seeing as hands, you know, come in a wide range of sizes). A good idea just to update what they are very happy with to the latest internals.

  7. wright_is

    An iPhone that once again fits within our company budget... We are supposed to have iPhones as company phones, but there were none that fell within the allowance, once T-Mobile dropped the iPhone 7 over here... And who is going to pay extra for a company phone that they are only allowed to make calls on and view email with?

  8. madthinus

    I guess they will downclock the A13 a bit, but honestly, this feels like a solid good value. I am also hopeful that the iPad will get an A13 this year at $329, that would be awesome!

  9. topodanny

    256GB not 266GB :)

  10. amosclan

    I'm still using the SE. =) I'll miss the smaller size, but I'm getting close to really needing an upgrade and this looks good. But I'm going to hold off until I see how the Surface Duo pans out.

  11. topodanny

    $399 USD is $562.25 CDN but Apple rounds up to $599. Ridiculous.

    • Lauren Glenn

      In reply to topodanny:

      When COVID ends, you can drive over the border and sneak one back, I guess

    • ozaz

      In reply to topodanny:

      Similar in UK. Should be sold at £385 GBP if only exchange rate and VAT is taken into account yet Apple sell at £419 GBP. But all tech companies do this. Still an excellent price for a phone with same processor as in iPhone 11.

    • Sir_Timbit

      In reply to topodanny:

      Could be a lot worse...Did you see the intro of the OnePlus 8 Pro yesterday? $899 US, but the Canada store lists it for $1399!

      • Daishi

        In reply to Sir_Timbit:

        I once saw a laptop I was hoping to buy get a 66% mark up between the US price and the one here in Australia. After currency conversion, 10% GST and even allowing them to round up the the next hundred it should have cost $1800 but was listed locally for $3000 for the same configuration.

    • Jeffsters

      In reply to topodanny:

      They do it to compensate for constant currency fluctuations up and down and the costs to repatriate it. You think this is just Apple? How long have you been living in Canada?

  12. simont

    Small typo - 266GB should be 256GB

  13. yoshi

    Now would be a good time for the 4a to drop.

  14. Lauren Glenn

    Makes for a decent MP3 player, I guess. If only it allowed for micro SD and more storage than 256GB. That was all I used to use my old SE phone for and it did it well enough. But then I realized it wasn't for me and got a Samsung. I wish they'd make the iPad Mini into a smartphone with those same dimensions.

  15. thalter

    Interestingly enough, with fewer pixels to push around than the iPhone 11 or the iPhone 11 Pro Max, this will likely be the fastest iPhone in Apple's lineup (at least for now).

  16. obarthelemy

    This is getting interesting. With a usable amount of storage (128GB), it's still about 3x my preferred sensible phones (Redmi Note or Realme 6), but that 3x amounts to "only" $300... Still a bit hard to recommend tough. We'll have to see what the battery life and pic quality are, and whether the dual-eSIM can be used for much.

  17. skolvikings

    This actually looks like a very capable phone hardware-wise.

  18. simont

    They are going to sell millions of these

  19. Sir_Timbit

    This is nice. A top-of-the-class SOC that should get at least 5 years worth of security updates. For $399. No nightshot mode though.

  20. remc86007

    Is the battery life really not any better than the Iphone 8? I didn't find that battery sufficient for my daily use which was the primary reason I sold it.

  21. RobertJasiek

    After currency conversion + VAT, the German price could be ca. €444 but is €479. Of the excess €35, one can explain ca. €15 for transport and fulfillment of German bureaucracy. So the price is ca. €20 too high. Soon the lowest retail price will reach ca. €450 so the raw price is all alright.

    From my perspective, these are the advantages:

    • price in view of the A13 CPU
    • IPS display without notch, 16:9, 625 nits
    • even more LTE bands than iPhone 8
    • water rejecting IP67


    • unclear minimum period of iOS updates; the expected 5+ years is too short for my needs
    • the name SE (2020) combined with the length 138.4mm means that there won't be an SE (2016) successor with the length 123.8mm in the forseeable future
    • camera bump
    • no audio jack
    • still lightning instead of USB-C
    • extremely bad file management
    • iTunes (Windows)
    • Apple service

    Without the disadvantages, the advantages would have convinved me. The SE (2020) is a suitable 8 successor but not an SE (2016) successor and unattractive from the perspective of Windows functionality.

    • Philotech Mueller

      Quote from RobertJasiek

      After currency conversion + VAT, the German price could be ca. €444 but is €479. Of the excess €35, one can explain ca. €15 for transport and fulfillment of German bureaucracy. So the price is ca. €20 too high. Soon the lowest retail price will reach ca. €450 so the raw price is all alright.

      End of Quote

      Not even sure you should account for transport costs as it should cost pretty much the same whether to ship to Europe or the US from China.

      However, we have much stricter (i.e. better for customers) restocking and warranty law. You can return the phone for free (not even shipment) against the full purchase price for 30 days, and there are two years of warranty. In the US it's just 90 days (I believe), hence the extra paid guarantee.

      Still, even taking into account all this, prices here tend to be a bit higher than in the US, resulting probably from a safety margin to account for currency F/X fluctuation.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      What smartphone gets OS updates greater then 5+ years? Also you don't need to use iTunes. Your phone never has to connect to a computer at all.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to lvthunder:

        Since essentially no smartphone has guaranteed 7+ years updates (especially not if purchased later than at lauch) I do not have any. That all manufacturers fail does not convince me to buy from the one failing the least.

        Since iOS 13, SMB works for files of some app data but does not work for Safari bookmarks, app confugration files and local iOS backup. For these purposes, I need iTunes or its Windows services while transferring data. Not connecting to a computer at all would mean not to backup anything. (JFTR, cloud comprises computers and is not an option e.g. due to US server locations.)

    • Fuller1754

      In reply to RobertJasiek: Yup, I'm with you on almost every point. I was eager to for this phone to drop to see if it might entice me to leave the Android world. At this point I'm not sure, but it's looking like not, mainly the following 2 reasons: Lightning connector instead of usb-c (seriously?); no headphone jack (I know it's 2020, for anyone who was about to remind me). But there's also that overly slick self-important vibe that comes across in all of Apple's ads, that just really turns me off. I'm not a huge Google fan either, but they have made the AOSP, adopted the hardware parter model (that's the way to go), and, I think, created a more modern mobile OS (iOS still has no app drawer!). I dunno. We'll see.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      I don't understand why you were even considering an iPhone. Honestly, it seams that you are more trying to convince others not to buy than yourself.

      • unclear minimum period of iOS updates; It is quite clear. 5 to 6 years.
      • the name SE (2020) combined .... speculation
      • camera bump, buy one without
      • no audio jack, buy one with
      • buy one with USB-C
      • buy one with better File Management.
      • iTunes, don't use it or it buy something else.
      • Apple service is bad? Choose one with better service.

      Honestly, there are plenty if phones in the market without most of these things that limit your usage.


      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to nbplopes:

        I consider an iPhone at all because I want a smartphone, don't have any and all other smartphones thus far also do not meet my requirements. In particular, Android fails because of failing privacy, security and updates. Without Android, there are still only a few remaining options. Linux smartphones are being planned but follow the current tall fashion, for which I have no use whatsoever. (Windows on smartphones was always beta, as was obvious to me.)

        5-6 years. I get that. 1) 5-6 is not 7+ and therefore not enough. I am interested in my expense per year - not in helping Apple to get its second trillion. I can use a smartphone for a long time because they are good enough. I support the environment and do not destroy it. 7 is the minimum and already a compromise. 5-6 undercuts the minimum. I do not lower the minimum to please Apple or you. If Apple was serious about the environment, it would offer much longer updates. 2) If a purchase is not at lauch date, the period is shorter than 5-6 years so do not pretend that it was a constant.

        Tell me which other smartphone I can buy that meets my requirements. Hint: I have searched for years and never seen any. My requirements are modest but manfacturers set different specifications. Flexible file management (Apple drops out), security (Android drops out), and essentially nothing is left.

        Are you afraid of opinions or reviews that do not hide disadvantages?

        • Elwood P Suggins

          In reply to RobertJasiek:

          Well, you may WANT a smartphone but seems you don't really need or want one bad enough yet... otherwise you'd evaluate the trade-offs of your 'requirements' vs 'nice to haves' among available products and make a purchasing decision the same way 3.5B of the rest of us have.

          • RobertJasiek

            In reply to Elwood P Suggins:

            If I had had to use a smartphone, I would have bought a Lumia and still be using it hopefully working until the first working, acceptable and reasonably priced Linux or Windows-on-ARM smartphone in a few years, less likely Apple becomes reasonable or even less likely Google becomes reasonable.

            I am in the lucky position that I only infrequently use phones and do not commute so my ordinary phone is good enough. For occasional travels and as a shopping aid, a smartphone would be useful nevertheless. Also for having a map during excursions, although there are still too many dead zones. Then there is the luxury use of AI gaming analysis in between tournament games, which is more helpful than travelling back home and only then analysing games.

            Since I am not forced to have a smartphone, my requirements are not overridden.

            Security is an example of an absolute requirement (therefore I invest great efforts in taming iTunes for my iPad and never buy any Android smartphone with want-to-have design, of which there have been quite a few). An audio jack is an example of a nice-to-have because I can also not use audio at all (but this decreases the price I am willing to spend on a smartphone). The display ratio has a very great impact on how much I could use a smartphone; it if is too tall, I might as well get a simple cell phone.

        • lvthunder

          In reply to RobertJasiek:

          With those crazy expectations you need to make your own phone.

          I don't own a battery powered device that has lasted 7+ years except a remote control that uses AA batteries.

          As for the environment recycle the phone when you are done with it. Apple makes machines to aid them in recycling old iPhones.

          • RobertJasiek

            In reply to lvthunder:

            Simple, solid computers and monitors run 10-20 years if one treats them cautiously. Mainboard batteries might have to be replaced.

            Simple, solid smartphones and their displays can run equally long if one treats them cautiously. This only presumes a supported OS and replacable batteries instead of planned obsolesence. Both are technically possible but planned obsolesence prevails.

            Recycling is good - longer use is better for the environment because recycling is only partial so far and production consumes energy.

  22. expertbehind

    The iPhone SE initially shipped with iOS 13.4 and supports Apple Pay and Apple Card. For more detail visit...