There is a lot that can be said about the old 4" Retina display, and the opinions will be polarized. The naysayers will nag incessantly about the super small display, the big bezels, the low screen resolution while the opposite camp will praise the great colors and sunlight legibility, as well as the high brightness.
We'll keep it simple. The display uses a 4" IPS panel of 640 x 1136 pixels, which is 326ppi density - the very definition of a Retina display.
The iPhone SE rendition of blacks is brighter than we would prefer, but on the other end of the spectrum, the 600 nits worth of brightness level is quite appreciable. The resulting contrast of 1:804 is not as noteworthy mainly due to the poor black levels.
As a comparison, the 4.7" iPhone 6s screen has the same 326ppi but is a less bright screen with higher contrast.
Regarding color rendering, the iPhone SE scored excellently with an Average DeltaE of 2.3, which means an almost perfectly calibrated screen. The maximum deviation of 5.2 is in the whites which come out slightly bluish but it's not something you would notice without an external reference point.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
As far as sunlight legibility goes, the iPhone SE is an excellent performer outside with excellent contrast under bright sunlight, which puts it towards the top of our chart.
The battery inside the iPhone SE is slightly bigger than the one inside the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s has a 1,560mAh battery, whereas a 1,624mAh unit powers the iPhone Special Edition.
Apple iOS 9 introduced a Low-Power mode, which you will be prompted to turn on once the charge drops below 20%.
The iPhone SE posted very balanced score across all of our tests - it can do about 12 hours of 3G calls, 13 hours of web browsing, or 14 hours of video playback on a single charge.
So, the total rating of the iPhone SE is 73 hours - 11 hours better than the iPhone 6s and 19 hours on top of the iPhone 5s.
This is how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the iPhone SE for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. Such usage pattern is of course entirely artificial, but we've established it so our battery results are comparable across devices.
The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.
The Apple iPhone SE comes with a bunch of wireless connectivity features. It supports fast LTE Cat. 4 (up to 150Mpbs down, 50Mbps up) with wide LTE bands coverage. Regular 2G and 3G connectivity are safely covered as well with a multitude of supported network bands.
The iPhone SE also supports the latest Voice over LTE (VoLTE), HD Voice and Wi-Fi calling protocols, but those are carrier-dependent features, so not everyone will enjoy them.
The iPhone SE supports all the current Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac standards. AirPlay is the only way to cast your screen's contents to an HDTV wirelessly, but you'd need to have an Apple TV set-top box.
Some apps will allow you to cast your screen to a Chromecast or a Smart HDTV, but compatibility with the latter will vary.
Additional local connectivity includes Bluetooth 4.2 LE. There is also support for NFC, but its functionality is only limited to Apple's region-restricted Apple Pay.
The iPhone SE uses a proprietary Lightning connector for wired data transfers and charging.
There is no support for USB On-the-go or USB host, but you can pair a Bluetooth keyboard to the phone should you need this sort of peripheral.
For transferring pretty much any content, you will be dependent on syncing it via the Apple iTunes software on your computer. The good news is that it can connect wirelessly to your iPhone over Wi-Fi. The bad news is that the paradigm of syncing content between the computer and the phone is quite old - as old as the first iPod and nowhere near as user-friendly and straightforward as copy-pasting. It also requires you add your content to iTunes library first.