What a wait this was as a new iPhone SE 2020 had been teased by the rumour mill for more than a year. Just as when everyone thought it was ready for primetime, the world was struck by the coronavirus pandemic. But it is here finally for a cool Rs 42,500 in India despite all the lockdown stuff. It is shaping to be the best affordable premium smartphone.

I’d probably be made to eat my words but this is the new people’s phone for the affluent types in India – make no mistake, coronavirus or not. Probably, it will also be the best selling smartphone this year no matter what the impact of the pandemic is on the global economy. 

An iPhone XR in the body of the iPhone 8 but with the brains of the iPhone 11 

Yep, you read that right — that’s basically the nuts and bolts of this new iPhone SE. And that’s a recipe for a delicious phone considering many people have been yearning for something that’s smaller and doesn’t feel like a kitchen sink in your pocket, especially if you have a fetish for the classic colours of red, black and white. 

  • It is powered by the A13 Bionic chip which debuted on the iPhone 11. This basically makes it the fastest smartphone in the world. Chances are it will be even faster than its haloed cousins as its smaller HD 4.7-inch screen is driving fewer pixels. It will be a phenom for gaming, multitasking, content creation and well, AR. It should be able to blow away anything that comes from Android in terms of performance. 
  • The 4.7-inch screen can be frowned upon or looked upon as something different. A couple of years ago, till 2017, definitely frowned upon, but in 2020, it’s something unique, for both people coming from a monstrosity that’s like a Galaxy Note or people upgrading from an older iPhone like the 6/7/8 models. At that size, the HD resolution is also just fine. 
  • More importantly, the compact size makes this the only premium smartphone with a top-level camera and chipset to be offered in a humane size. In this post coronavirus situation, Touch ID becomes more important than Face ID as people are wearing masks, something which Apple has got covered as well. Apple’s Touch ID is far more secure and reliable than the optical in-display scanners that are there in most Android smartphones.
  • Adding to the premium nature of this phone are also features that constitute a “flagship” these days. I am talking about wireless charging and IP67 water and dust resistance. Apple also supports WiFi 6, dual stereo speakers, haptic touch and even a 7-megapixel front-facing camera that can do full HD video which a thing most manufacturers skim upon. It is also built out of aluminium which it isn’t always the case with some of so-called “flagship killing” phones that cost in the 40k range. Basically, this phone has the fringe features that are associated with the top dogs. 
  • The iPhone SE has a single 12-megapixel camera system on the back with an f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilisation. This, in all probability, will blow most other camera systems that you’re getting for around Rs 42,500. Let’s look around — you have folks like the OnePlus 7T Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S10 models and some of the newer flagships by companies like iQOO and Realme. The iPhone will decimate these phones in still photography, video capture and even portrait mode. Regardless of what sensor Apple uses here — the one on the iPhone XR or the one on the iPhone 11, Apple’s implementation was light years ahead. Apple has also been the undisputed king of mobile video which continues with this phone. The only thing that’s missing is a night mode which Apple can technically add via a software update but I think that will be unlikely. 
  • Battery life should be better on this phone than the iPhone 8 which also was decent. That’s because of the more efficient 7nm A13 Bionic processor. Apple is promising all-day battery life which is reassuring as it is usually very good with its battery figures. It also supports USB PD fast charging and it does have wireless charging. At the same time, phones that have a screen of the size of the iPhone 8 or SE, really don’t need fast charging as those phones charge fast enough. 
  • Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that Apple is incredible with software updates. The iPhone 6s which was launched in 2015 also gets iOS 13 — that’s five-year software support. Generally, the way Apple releases and develops iOS — it makes sure that over the course of the life of the phone, it always gets better maintaining a good balance between adding new features and also improving performance. This iPhone SE 2020 will remain pristine for longer than any Android phone you buy, and while doing so it will also have a much better resale value. 

When is it coming to India and does it matter?

  • This is the complexity — only yesterday, the Indian government extended the lockdown for another 2 weeks till May  3rd as opposed to it ending on April 14.
  • There is chatter that some restrictions will be relaxed post-April 20 with smartphone makers to even restart manufacturing in India but that’s not going to help the iPhone SE 2020 to come faster as it is not being manufactured in India. 
  • It will be imported from abroad which means one will have to wait for the import restrictions to be lifted which could happen in the coming weeks. 
  • The fact that Apple has released the price of the phone means it is ready to be shipped — which could happen in the next 2 weeks. 
  • Even though the US pricing is at $399 which converts to around Rs 30,500, the Rupee has taken a beating against the dollar and is at an all-time high of Rs 76.58. Added to that the hike in GST from 12% to 18% and the uncertainty about the market and fluctuation in the foreign exchange rate, that Rs 42,500 point makes sense. What’s key here is that likely, Apple has undercut all of its competition in India. 
  • Regardless of what’s the purchasing power of the consumers, this will likely become the best selling phone this year considering the robust combination of features, Apple brand prestige, software support, resale value and the uniqueness of it being a compact phone. 

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