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Apple resumes selling iPhone SE at lower $249 price on its clearance store (apple.com)
331 points by whitepoplar 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 325 comments

The only thing that could get me to upgrade from my iPhone 7 would be a premium version of the iPhone SE. I want a smaller phone, not a bigger one, but I want updated specs and possibly an OLED screen.

Not only is this something I’d love, it’s also a comment that gets a lot of upvotes on Hackers News every time it’s made. Do HN readers have an unusual like for ‘small’ phones or is it just an unserved market?

I like small phones because I feel that they're a better tradeoff between form + functionality. I want a premium phone, and I'm willing to pay a lot for it, but I also want to spend as little time on my phone as possible. A smaller screen gives me all the benefit while being easy to carry and handle, and the small screen keeps me from using it too much.

I also happen to think small screens feel more elegant. The promise of technology has always been to amplify humans without detracting from the important parts of life. Big screen phones feel ideologically wrong to me in that people use them as a replacement for life.

When my iPhone 5S died on me a few months ago, I bought a large Android phone to replace it. I've tracked screen-on time and noticed it ramp right up - from something like 90 minutes a day to 2 or even 3 hours now. Most of the increase is due to the fact that it's easier to use in bed before I get up in the morning, as well as before I go to sleep. So I tend to waste more time than I used to, watching YouTube or mindlessly browsing the web.

I'm going to try out the new Digital Wellbeing stuff in Android Pie, which lets me set restrictions on app use. But it feels like a smaller phone is a much better solution, as it doesn't have any compromise in terms of portability - what's the point of having a big screen if I'm just going to disable the things that it's good at?

It would be nice if Apple or Google or anyone else could commit to serving the small phone market.

Yeah, I moved from an SE to an 8+, then an XS Max. I love the new phones, but if they brought out a premium SE I'd swap to that in a second.

I don't care about the size too much, but small has the advantage of one-handed use, of fitting better in my pocket and being less likely to break.

I kind of care about the design. It's elegant-- I like the flat camera, the chamfered edges and the brick-y form (which I appreciate they brought back with the new iPad Pro).

What I care most about though is the headphone jack. This is why I still keep mine around in spite of having another phone-- to listen to music.

EDIT: The fact that it's cheaper, so I could get more memory for the same price as a bigger model also contributes to it still sticking around primarily for music, but also with some games.

That right there sounds like a solid reason for Apple to not go that route. Customers who paid over $1000 will now be spending under $500 for an Apple phone. Thats bad for business.

I agree, that's a good point in many cases. Personally, I used my SE in combination with an iPad. The bigger phones made the tablet unnecessary, I can comfortable do what I need on my phone screen now.

Totally agree. HNers do understand the tradeoffs better.

It's like when they started making laptop screen reflective. All my non-tech relatives were saying: "wow that screen is super nice" while I was thinking: "holy crap, the matte screen is disappearing, how I am going to work?"

apple has masterful market segmentation.

they want the inexpensive option to not really fill a specific niche, they want it to be a little uncomfortable, that you're already making compromises so you'll pay a grand for the fancy one instead.

What i'm trying to say is, making a smaller option would be cheaper. That would cannibalize high end sales. From the seller's point of view, you want the best alternative to compromise all of your desires, so it's not that big of a deal to just upgrade. something inherently small violates that.

HNers can identify the tradeoffs. Apple probably understands the tradeoffs better though. Apple exploits them. (I say this as a loyal iphone owner.)

They’ve done this forever with their computers. Happy with the CPU but don’t want a horrible 5400rpm hard drive (Yes iMacs still ship with those)? Well you’re going to need to bump up to the higher CPU model.

I would normally agree with you, but Apple’s recent issues with iPhone sales suggests to me that this might be changing. As adoption rates continue to ebb, maybe tapping as fully into your market becomes a better strategy than trying to dictate to the market.

Yep, Apple realizes that it and Android are platforms. If you buy into an ecosystem you are more likely to remain in that ecosystem when it comes time to upgrade your device.

Although I would argue you should not want the matte screen. They get washed out from ambient light and thus have poorer contrast than reflective screens that can reject ambient light (at proper angles).

Glossy screens can be great in the correct lighting. A few point sources of light that are not directly behind the viewer are great, and you can benefit from the increased contrast that foregoing the matte layer gets you.

However, in a situation where you have ambient light from everywhere, like an open office with many windows, glossy screens are insanely distracting. I much prefer the matte screens for that. Yes things on the screen can be harder to read, but way better compared to the "looking into a mirror" effect of a glossy screen.

> how I am going to work?"

My luggable laptop for real work away from home or in equipment rooms has a 2010 4:3 matt screen

My portable laptop for quick emails while moving and occasional corporate stuff is a 13" gloss screen mac, but when it comes to productive work give me a good OS on a good laptop any day.

For me it’s the aspect ratio. 3:2 is ideal, so kudos to Google and MS, but 16:10 on the MacBooks is still significantly better than the mass of 16:9ers out there.

Recently got a 14” Zenbook for my daughter. Lovely machine honestly, but the screen ratio is annoying.

Every screen nowadays is optimized for (occasionally) creating and (mostly) consuming video content. Most video is 16:9. There is no other explanation.

Having a large screen is also good for watching Netflix and YouTube. For many people, the phone has almost completely replaced the TV. I guess that explains why the screens keep getting bigger.

I got this one: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jellyphone/atom-world-s...

It is not "elegant" by any stretch of the imagination, but it is extremely small. Like you, I want something that is very small in my pocket and not distracting me from real life.

If I wanna watch TV I'll watch my TV, but I think this is almost certainly an opinion that marks me as an old person.

I used to do the same, but eventually the bus driver got mad at me and stopped letting me bring the TV on.

My theory is that big phones are best for single device users. Most of my social circle has a computer at home and at work, and they often carry a laptop or tablet. The phone, in that case, really is a mobile device, and especially if you are carrying around a bunch of other crap, a small phone is awful nice.

My theory is that big phones dominate because a lot of people don't have reliable/maintained computers other than their cellphone. If that was true of me, I'd want the biggest cellphone I could get, too.

Personally, I think if this is true, and phone companies figure it out, you'll see phones begin to be priced like turn-of-the-millennium laptops. The giant and clunky "desktop replacement" units should be giant and priced at the bottom of the market. The small units should have all the premium features and be way more expensive.

The fact that there are very few small smartphones being made and that none of those are 'premium' smartphones would indicate that either I am wrong or there's a market opportunity that the major cellphone manufacturers are missing.

Bought my first smartphone in college and with each upgrade felt the need to continue increasing the screen size. As screen size increased, I spent more time on my phone for both leisure and productivity. This roughly decade long experiment has resulted in an aversion to doing work on my laptop. For better or worse (most likely worse), my phone has become an extension of myself and performing tasks without it - or not having it on my person - feels unnatural, awkward, and discomforting.

The only consolation is that maybe I can better understand and relate to generation Z than my peers. Not much of a consolation.


I spend ~6-7 hours each day on my phone. On weekends, this use increases. I am now averse even to work flows that are better suited for laptop use. I will use my too-big-to-use-with-one-hand phone for tasks that would take half the time on my laptop.

For me it’s age and hand size. The SE is great, both my daughters have one and love them, but I find them hard to read text on these days and too fiddly for my fingers (though my hands aren’t exactly huge).

I had a 6+ for a while and got on with it fine but it’s a bit big. My 6s is just right. It is a little big for reaching on screen controls sometimes, but I’d hate to lose the readability so it’s a trade off.

I like my big phone because a) I'm going blind in my old age, and b) the security requirements at the work keep my private life on my big phone, seperate from the network at the office.

Staring at a phone is not good for your eyes, due to the short distance. A small SE phone for critical/mobile tasks and iPad for reading is a practical combo.

Having 50 year old eyes is bad on your eyesight. :)

We are still learning about eye health. The most profitable lenses for the optical industry are "progressive" lenses for 50+ and these should be avoided for computer use. See previous thread on alternatives:


is that true? I mean, that staring at a screen degrades your vision?

I haven't read anything convincing on the subject.

It's a complex topic, depends on age, genetics, corrective lens or not, nature of your work and neuroplasticity. However, the eyecare industry agrees that max period for continuous closeup work (screen, paper, objects) is 20 minutes.


2018 thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16146106

My parents always said I'd get square eyes if I watched TV too much

I totally agree with this and on top, for me personally, I don’t care about the obsession with better cameras in these phones (now multiple modules adding to the cost). I always carry at least a compact camera (RX100m3), and often a full frame mirrorless camera.

For me, camera upgrade was a significant driver in the upgrade from a 5S to an 8.

I also have a compact and dSLR, but the best camera is the camera you have and that’s often my phone. I have a lot of pics of my kids that were unfortunately taken on an iPhone 4 or similar era touch and are noticeably terrible.

I'm sure it is for most people. I've always taken pictures of my niece and nephew on a decent camera, I'm pretty sure they'll last the test of time. Every new phone claims to have a good camera, when to me it's still not good enough and doesn't justify the £700+ for a new phone.

I can't speak for all HNers but I recently bought a 128gb iPhone SE from someone on Gumtree after having used Android phones for 5 years (I'm an Android developer). I could not find any modern 4" phones. I really like being able to comfortably read the entire screen with one thumb, and the form of the phone just feels comfortable and functional. It's also one of the last modern iPhones with a headphone jack.

I do still prefer Android as an OS, though I am still getting used to iOS's quirks. I'm very happy with my purchase, though.


I have had one of the above for about a year. Battery life is not too great, but for my needs (occasional phone call, text, google maps) it works fine. Fits in the front coin pocket of my jeans.

Oh cool, thanks! How's the performance?

Get the battery replacement from Apple. Still free in Australia due to consumer Law guarantees.

For me, I barely physically use my phone. I use iMessage from my mbp and get most notifications on my Pebble.

I do use the phone itself for audiobooks and podcasts, but otherwise its basically a server (not the best term for that.. but you get what I mean.)

What I don't get about the larger phones is how people comfortably carry them around. Maybe its because I wear skinny jeans / pants, but there's absolutely no way I could fit a larger phone in the pockets of my pants, and I rarely have a jacket on.

But the love of the SE form-factor is not isolated to HN. I know a lot of people who love a smaller phone for various reasons.

As the tech gets thinner, I'm longing for the day when we get something similar to the folding phone from HER, but with a few modifications (e.g. memory LCD / eink for other side..)

>What I don't get about the larger phones is how people comfortably carry them around. Maybe its because I wear skinny jeans / pants, but there's absolutely no way I could fit a larger phone in the pockets of my pants, and I rarely have a jacket on.

Aside from a cellphone, I also carry a kindle all the time. I literally wear special pants so I can carry my kindle without a bag.

I mean, they aren't custom made or anything, but I do limit myself to baggy pants with giant cargo pockets. I keep saying I'm going to take all my electronics to a tailor and ask for less ridiculous pants that can carry all my stuff, but I haven't.

(that said, if apple released a new phone with new screen and network quality that was the size of the SE, I would buy it, just 'cause it's a lot easier to use with just one hand, and when I want to use both hands, I have bigger devices.)

Women put them in purses. Most men are too heavy to wear skinny jeans. I’m not a particularly large guy, but a 6s plus fits fine in my Levi’s jeans’ pocket (regular cut).

Some of us don’t want to carry a purse all the time even when we go outside. Let alone having to schlep one around inside the office just to have our phones with us.

> Do HN readers have an unusual like for ‘small’ phones or is it just an unserved market?

My wife wants a phone that can fit into her jean pockets. Requiring handbags just to carry a phone around is absurd, and untenable for many people.

Being familiar with the state of women's clothing, you need to bitch at them to increase female pocket size, for that general complaint.

What's absurd is the size of pockets in women's clothing.

Yeah it's bizarre how they keep buying dysfunctional clothing.

I think HN readers are likely to own a(t least one) proper desktop and laptop, whereas for some/many other people their mobile device is really their only/main device in which case it makes sense to want a device with a larger screen. But when you have other other computing devices with large screen, it makes sense to desire a mobile device that's easiest to carry and easier to operate (one-handed etc.).

Exactly. SE for mobility and iPad for screen real estate.

It's because everyone here has a bigger screen (laptop) and hence wants a smaller screen phone. For vast majority of the world, phone is the only screen they own. And hence they want bigger screen.

I doubt the majority of people have only a phone. Unless it's a poor 3rd world country, most people have some kind of computer at home, or at least a tablet.

There's a difference between having a mobile device with you in the city and using a device comfortable at home where most people prefer a bigger screen.

>I doubt the majority of people have only a phone.

Well only in the context of US, EU, Canada, AUS, and the like. Or if you consider China, India to be a poor 3rd world country.

There are more people using their Smartphone as their only computer devices in China / SEA than the whole of US and EU population combined. There are elderly who never had a computer in their life are now using Smartphone as their first "computer". You will be surprised how many people can't double click a mouse, and moving mouse cursor around is a daunting task. And how using iPhone is 10x more intuitive.

You would be surprised. Even if you control for income (rather than blanket exclude "3rd world countries") I bet the majority of the population, across all age groups, could not proficiently use a traditional computer, let alone own one. While more and more are getting used to smartphones every day.

That's why I mentioned tablets too. I'm sure most people have a tablet at home for more comfortable browsing, video watching, etc.

Makes sense, but the problem is AAPL gives us no choice. It’s only big, bigger, huge.

Since no one here is rushing to get the small xperia phones I'm guessing it is one of those things people want, but at the same time is the first feature they are willing to give up.

another case in point: parent only wants to change to smaller phone if all other specs are also improved.

I bought the iPhone X because it was almost iPhone 8 Plus at iPhone 8 size. But if there were a iPhone SE2 that followed the “all screen design” and was almost an iPhone 8 in an iPhone 5s body? Sign me up.

I don’t think Xperia matters much here is it is sacrificing iOS and also to a lesser degree, an Android manufacturer that isn’t known for great software on that end.

I hate all screen design I also want a thicker phone. I want to be able to actually hold the damn thing. I get a case because those are now design flaws.

that's fair. I'm not saying get rid of other designs, just saying there is interest in smaller devices. I personally don't have an issue holding mine with or without a case, though I had a Samsung Galaxy Edge so I became accustomed to not resting too much on the front. I could see where someone who isn't accustomed to it or, fair enough, has no interest in becoming accustomed to that disliking it and that's fine. I respect that.

I hated the Galaxy edge because the edge menu was pretty pointless. And it came with Samsung shitware.

Size isn't the first thing I'm willing to forgo, but until there's another phone (Android or otherwise) that eschews the user-as-a-product model I'm sticking with the Apple ecosystem. Before Apple, I had a BlackBerry Z10 which I liked quite a lot. Unfortunately my friend's kid broke the screen.

Of course I'm not convinced Sony's learned anything from putting rootkits on their music CDs either.

Actually sony compacts were some of the phones I was considering when I upgraded from iphone 4, to iphone SE. But the iphone se was just a tad smaller and I liked the look and feel of it. Had there been no iphone SE i would most likely be an android user now. And if apple stops producing a small model like iphone SE, that will probably be the thing that pushes me towards some sort of android phone.

Even the Xperia compact phones are now pretty big. The previous Xperia X compact is now sold out in most reputable stores. I would love a small phone.

It is still somewhat big but it is small enough that my wife has stopped complaining that the phone doesn't fit in her hands.

But afaik it is the only phone out there with same specs as it's bigger brother. The phone is excellent too. I have the big one personally buy my hands are considerably larger than hers.

Not the first feature, but I want my phone to be able to be replaced immediately if I break it, and Apple provides that with Apple stores where I usually am.

Also google took too long to come out wit Duo, so all the old people in my family learned how to use FaceTime, so now we all just stick with Apple products because it’s not worth switching to another environment, especially since Apple stuff changed much less and causes much less frustration.

I rushed to get the small xperia phone. I had to specially order it because nobody carries it here in Canada.

Reading on materialistic using Xperia xz1 compact. I love this phone so much. After my Nexus 5 went dead I was lost until I found this for sale on eBay India. 6-7 hours battery life and the power this phone has, I am loving every bit of it.

Sony cancelled the XZ4 compact :(

I'm hoping to get the Sharp Aquos R2 compact announced back in November; but it doesn't seem to have hit the market yet. Probably will during MWC 2019?

The XZ2 compact wasn't really compact anymore, so I'd say the line died there.

Motivated minorities are over-represented in media (both social and traditional).

True, but they're proportionally represented where product decisions become important - in the revenue spreadsheets

Before iphones got big, I used to regularly see iphone owners mocking large android phones, saying that large phones are inconvenient, unnecessary, uncomfortable, etc.

Perhaps those people were serious, and now feel like they've been left out in the cold.

You are describing me... So I'm there waiting for the iPhone mini/nano.

I find it somewhat fascinating that Apple has chosen to reproduce the mistakes of the Mac (in the late eighties/early nineties -> higher prices/margins at the expense of market shares) rather the success of the iPod (own all the market, with an iPod at every price point). I don't think it's a winning strategy in the long term, though it has worked so far.

Unfortunately this time, Steve Jobs can't come back to set things right.

I genuinely think they have the wrong ceo.

Imagine if it had been Ive. For one thing, I bet we wouldn’t have camera bulges.

Doesn’t he push thinner for any and all costs though?

i love how everyone’s idea of what Steve Jobs would do is what they would they would like to see happen :-)

I've got no skin in the game, I don't buy iphones.

I love SE. For me it’s a perfect fit factor. It’s small. I can reach all screen parts with one hand. It has a flat side, and can be placed on it’s side, eg when watching something.

I recently had to use a smaller screen phone when my larger one broke and I was waiting for its replacement. I found the smaller keyboard to be nearly unusable compared to what I was used to, and the replacement larger phone only reinforces that impression.

Same here, I had iPhone SE for a brief time. At that time iPhone SE had the best battery life compared to other iPhone's but the typing and browsing website's made me hate it.

I have very small hands. Many small gloves don't fit me. I have no issues with keyboards on small phones, especially with a learning keyboard like SwiftKey.

Some people are very offended to be told they have small hands. Don’t miss the bit where a photo of his hands is posted out yearly. https://money.cnn.com/2016/03/04/media/donald-trump-fingers-...

do you type with both hands?

No I do not. The problem was that I was hitting the wrong key far too often. I should emphasize that this was an Android phone, not an iPhone.

Interesting. when I use my iphone SE, I use it one handed; I use swype with my thumb, which doesn't look like it'd work; my thumb practically covers the whole keyboard, but it ends up working really well for me. swype on the bigger iphones for me is a lot less comfortable, and I end up holding the phone with one hand and typing with the other. I haven't tried a "pop socket" yet, but that might be the solution.

I think it's that hackers spend most of our day on an actual computer, either desktop or laptop, so there's no need to carry a larger cellular modem in our pockets. We use the tool that's right for the job: a real keyboard for writing, and a small phone for holding to our head.

The portion of the market not being served will always be the loudest. It doesn’t mean it is a meaningful slice (in terms of numbers) of the market.

Sounds simple to say but it's true: my pockets aren't that big and my hands aren't big enough either to comfortably hold a big phone. Can you touch all the corners of the screen with your thumb while holding your phone without moving your hand?

I assume the "small screen"-faction are just more vocal about it, because they feel left out by the market. The vast majority prefers, or at least don't mind the bigger screens, but don't mind phone manufacturers offering smaller versions, because they know it won't affect them in any way.

If I posted "I loved it every time my phone screen got bigger" every time this discussion comes up, it won't add much to the discussion. Now imagine ten times of the complaint-comments are of this type, that's just spam.

Well, it fits in any pocket, it has a headphone jack, and i don’t need to stretch to use it one handed.

I think the issue is that, day-to-day, quite a lot of people would far prefer a smaller phone (especially if it also packs better battery life), but when it comes to buying a new phone, these just aren't very attractive selling options.

There's definitely a potential market for smaller phones, but someone's gotta figure out how to market them.

> a comment that gets a lot of upvotes on Hackers News every time it’s made.

I wonder how many of us, if asked, would say that we spend too much time on our phones? Probably higher than the population at large. A bigger screen is nicer to look at, I readily grant. But that's exactly the problem.

For an increasing number of "normal" people the phone is the primary computing device, mobile or at home.

However I'd be surprised if that trend applies to the HN crowd, which probably considers their phones as a secondary device, at best. An extension of the multiple other computers they use more frequently, something you need on the go, a mobile device that's used for quick glances and short uses, which gets relegated to second or third device at home. At least that's how I see it and it is why I value a small, portable form factor. Plus, I have small hands.

In my case, brachydactyly type d makes horizontally thinner screens (not necessarily just "smaller" ones) much easier to use. I watch people on Youtube review these giant phones, and it's the only times in my life I've experienced thumb envy.

I want a smaller screen because I usually carry my iPad mini around with me for when I actually want to consume content. My phone is for calls, messaging, directions, Uber and quick Google searches.

there may be a part of the population who likes to put their mobile phone into their jeans’ front pocket instead of having to carry a daypack for it or these new cases to carry them outside on a string... thats why i like ~4 inch phones

for me it's more of a i'd rather be able to put it in my pocket easily and not have to worry about breaking it than anything else.

It definitely feels like a meme on reddit and HN. haha

I stopped considering my iPhone SE a “small phone” and I started considering it for what it actually is: a “just right” phone.

Ergonomically speaking, 4 inches is the right size for a device that is meant to be operated by a human hand. Phones bigger that that are grossly oversized and anti-ergonomic.

That’s just common sense (cit. Apple): https://youtu.be/O99m7lebirE

Apple introduced one-hand mode a long time ago for its bigger models which I find helps somewhat. But what I sometimes miss is a mode to permanently resize the displayed screen area to a smaller area. With the iPhone’s current mode, the screen is only lowered so the top buttons can be reached, but the lower half is moved off-screen, and the mode is limited to a few interactions after which the displayed screen is moved up again. What I miss is a mode to permanently resize the displayed screen area to a smaller one so my thumb can reach every point. I hear some Android phones have this. Would be nice to have. Even better if I can adjust the screen area’s size to fit the length of my thumb. And when I want fullscreen again, I switch to fullscreen mode.

You can do this on Android with One-Handed Mode[1]. However, personally I prefer Reachability Cursor[2] instead, which lets you temporarily shift your finger with a gesture.

[1]: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.xda.onehan...

[2]: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.niftyui.re...

Bwaaaahahahaha! I've only just now realized that's an intended feature, not a bug. I'd been wondering for close to a year now why they'd not fixed it yet, since it happened so often for me.

I think that's the nail in the coffin for me; the screens are just too damn big.

Losing the home button and extra bezel could probably make it ergonomic up to 4.5 inches.

You realise there is significant variation in the size of people’s hands? I consider a 4 inch phone so small as to be nearly unusable. Apple’s approach of having differently size phones for different people is the right one.

Good thing he isn't asking Apple to make only 4 inch phones. The way it is now, the SE is 3 years old and isn't getting a successor, leaving those of us who like and want small phones behind.

> Good thing he isn't asking Apple to make only 4 inch phones.

> Phones bigger that that are grossly oversized and anti-ergonomic.

Looks like he is, actually.

Agreed. But where's the updated small form-factor model?

I'm also on an iPhone 7, and don't even really want a premium version of the iPhone SE, I just want an SE-sized phone with water resistance.

If it had nicer specs (e.g. hardware on par with iPhone 8 and a better display) that would a bonus. However, I wouldn't want a high-res display necessarily. I think they should keep the pixel density of the current SE. What I would found after briefly using an SE is that the low-res display coupled with the CPU/GPU from the 6S resulted in amazing UI performance -- much better than the 6S and maybe even the 7. Getting rid of the bezels would be nice, though that might detract from one of the advantages of the SE, that you can firmly grip the phone while being able to touch any part of the screen with your thumb, but it would be worth the trade-off I think.

I spent a week with an SE, after having used the 6 and the 6S before doing so, and I found I quickly adjusted to the smaller screen, and could even type faster since there was less finger travel needed (relying heavily on auto-correct).

Battery life on the SE is also great (at least it was for me), and I'd like to see that replicated on a newer small phone, with whatever tradeoff is necessary to accomplish it (e.g. low-res display, thicker phone).

Same here...

iPhone X/XS/XR (bought & returned one of those in Sept.) are just too big i can not one hand text, surf, etc with any of those form factors or bigger.

I hope their future models offer iPhone 6/7/8 or smaller form factors with Touch ID!

Also, bring back the audio jack ... buying $180 airpods is ridiculous as previously i could buy $10 wired headset and listen privately. Removing the audio jack seems all to me about raking in cash(selling airpods) vs. providing customers with the best UX(making me buy crazy expensive airpods is not a good user/customer experience!).

So after much griping about the notch, glass back, lack of headphone jack, lack of home button, and lack of Touch ID, the wife and I just bought iPhone XRs. And you know what? They’re great. Air Pods are transformational—you don’t realize how annoying the cords are until they’re gone. And quality and range are phenomenal. It’s a UX win for consumers as well as a revenue win for Apple.

The swipe gestures aren’t discoverable at all. But I noticed my 60-year-old aunt fluently using them, so I think the little tutorial they do in the Apple store when you buy one is effective.

> so I think the little tutorial they do in the Apple store when you buy one is effective

Steve Jobs said : “Any product that needs a manual to work is broken.” Does a full blown hand-held tutorial form an Apple employee at the store count as a manual?

While I agree that Apple interfaces have been straying deeply into "undiscoverable" territory of late (the two touch pressures... eugh), Jobs' comment is a quip that even Apple has never lived up to. You simply can't build advanced electronics without explaining to users how they work. Just try sitting somebody who's never used a computer in front of a Mac and see what happens.

No, he did not say that. That's an Elon Musk quote.

I don't think a full blown, hand-holding tutorial at sales outlets was the outcome Steve Jobs was aiming for, when he decided to kill shipping manuals with iDevices.

On the quote, a CNBC article seemed to attribute it to Jobs, but I suppose Musk said it - I stand corrected

Physical manuals. All iOS devices come preloaded with a large manual in the Books app.

So to access the manual, you need to setup a new phone, without a manual, and somehow glean the location of the manual, without a manual, and finally open the manual.

Also, bring back the audio jack ... buying $180 airpods is ridiculous as previously i could buy $10 wired headset and listen privately.

You know you do have other choices when it comes to headphones besides AirPods? Including the lightning headphones that come with it, any BT headphones, or a $10 adapter that came with the phone until last year.

Also bring back the home button... I don’t like the face unlock and gestures. I’ll give up the screen real estate for the functionality.

My dream phone is a “military grade” SE. Slightly larger battery, rugged phone. I know it would be thicker, I’d be good with that.

I'd love an SE with a better camera and a "weekend long" battery, meaning I can go camping or whatever Friday evening, come back Sunday night, and use it a fair bit for photos and music and stuff while away. Give it a tough exterior and I'd settle for it being twice as thick as current, and all the associated weight, and pay a premium for it.

I miss having tough phones that lasted for days. All the current tough phones have really really crap specs and run Android that's multiple versions behind, and Apple hardware these days needs to be treated like a newborn baby.

Totally with you. I've been thinking of getting a rugged battery case for my SE to accomplish this, but obviously the camera will still be not great compared to newer phones.

The SE is so small that you could add all of these elements to the existing phone with a well designed case and you'd still have a reasonably small (albeit thick) device.

(Of course it would be nice if a next-gen SE had IP67+ water/dust resistance and a larger battery, then all you'd need is to add a highly ruggedized case and you'd be golden.)

This is literally what I want, badly.

I recently upgraded my 7 to an 8 because my 7 was too easy to damage - even with a rather rugged case (a simple drop shattered the screen). I'm really uninterested in things like camera upgrades (male, early 30s). After this phone, this will be the first time I seriously entertain a non-Apple product for my computing hardware.

At the usual Apple price point, a military grade phone is what I should expect.

You might like this tiny rugged phone: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jellyphone/atom-world-s...

I got it off the kickstarter, but I think you can buy it retail now.

a smartphone equivalent of a nokia 1110.

You can’t get the larger battery but there are thick cases out there that make your phone way more rugged.

I’d love to buy an “upgrade service” of my iPhone SE that just replaced the mainboard and camera panel with whatever the latest and greatest is, and replaced the battery with a fresh one. Would love to understand supply chain / reverse logistics / ewaste trade offs to understand if this is practical. (And yes, I’m aware of projects like fairphone, ara, etc. I’m not saying user serviceability is a requirement)

I’ve speculated this is perhaps more practical on newer laptops (e.g. 2016- MacBooks) where ports have consolidated to just all usb-c and presumably stay that way for longer than a typical 3-year physical design cycle.

I don't think upgrading a phone makes sense from an e-waste point of view, particularly if the alternative is a robust recycling program like what Apple promotes.

Look at the constituent parts of an iPhone SE:


An upgrade necessarily includes a new logic board and likely a new camera module. Once you're disassembling it, you'd inevitably be swap out the battery too. Most of the remaining parts have a distinctly limited service life—in particular the battery, physical buttons and connectors.

The front glass assembly with LCD screen might have a long theoretical life but these do deteriorate over time, they get damaged easily and replaced fairly often.

After excluding the above, there's not much left to salvage—mostly aluminium parts like the outer casing, and aluminium is already one of the most recyclable components of a phone anyway.

So there's really no point.

I just went from an SE to an iPhone 8 and it feels like a downgrade in overall usability and design. The flat edges of the SE were so much nicer-feeling and easier to hold, and I never had an issue with the screen size. All I'd like is a slightly better camera in the SE, everything else is perfect IMO.

That's my dream. I too currently own an iPhone 7. I was hoping for an improved iPhone SE, with the screen covering all of it's front, FaceID, the whole package. I couldn't care less about double, triple cameras. I want a phone smaller than the one I have now, which nowadays is the smallest you can get from Apple. That's frustrating.

Yep. The best looking phone they ever made was the stainless steel iPhone 4s (and I own an iPhone X). Give me something like that (even an SE) but with an oled screen and such.

I like smaller phones too, currently I have the smallest Android phone I know of (Sony Xperia X Compact). I wish they went even smaller though, I'd LOVE a modern smartphone the size of the Palm Prē

> I want a smaller phone, not a bigger one

I'd like a foldable or furlable phone that offers the best of both worlds. You'd use it folded or furled most of the time and unfold or unfurl it when you want a bigger screen.

The current foldable phones seem to be a bit too thick when folded, but I've never seen one in person so that may be a false impression.

Why would you fold a phone without a keyboard? It will always be thicker which is a bigger problem IMO when putting it in your pocket than a long phone.

Because a foldable phone offers double the screen size when you want it. It just has to be made thin enough so it's not too thick when folded.

I just want an upgraded SE, too; nothing fancy with folding

it's "out of stock" now.

Not sure, a lot of HNers have placed a ton of orders in the past few hours

Then consider a xperia compact.

The upcoming sony xz4 compact may be the only small phone with premium components, and it's extremely frustrating. It's not even /that/ small.

You can find small phones but they have terrible cameras, sub HD resolutions, and bargain basement SOCs.

Is the demand for a premium (or even mid range) small phone really that low?

Yes, the demand really is that low. People who want a smaller phone in 2019 are a very small yet very vocal minority.

If there was a large untapped market for smaller phones, then the limited number of small phones on the market would be selling a lot better than they actually are. Somebody would notice and start making more of them.

Like phones with physical keyboards, phones with small screens have become a niche product and they will probably disappear in the next few years.

> Yes, the demand really is that low.

Do you have any evidence for that?

There are virtually no, modern, reasonably-specced and reasonably priced phones with smaller screens available currently, so it's no wonder they're not selling.

In the Android world, there's only a couple of low-end Nokia phones (Nokia 1 - 4.5" screen and Nokia 3 - 5.2" screen), low-end Samsungs like the Galaxy J3 and the high-end and expensive Sony XZ2 Compact available but these phones aren't available for sale in many shops or on many contracts. If the market doesn't produce modern smaller phones, then they can't be sold, so arguing that "the demand really is that low" is currently a circular argument.

I suspect that part of the reason why the resale value of older iPhones like the 6 and 6s are high is that a reasonable percentage of people, esp. women, want smaller phones like these iPhones which are still reasonably fast and quite usable. My girlfriend hates using large phones as she finds them too big to hold in one hand easily, and has kept using an old Android because of its 4.5" screen.

I'm a tall person - well over 6 foot - with largish hands and even I find it difficult to comfortably use a phone wider than 70mm. I also find the current trend of producing 18:9 ratio phones completely baffling, as it makes reaching the top of the screen impossible with one hand in situations like traveling on trains or buses. Widescreen videos are filmed in 16:9 ratio, so it would make much more sense to go back to 16:9 ratio phone screens.

> There are virtually no, modern, reasonably-specced and reasonably priced phones with smaller screens available currently, so it's no wonder they're not selling.

They don't exist because phone companies know that the demand is too low to justify the investment.

If you want to convince people that the demand is there, you'll need to explain why every phone manufacturer has come to the opposite conclusion. Not a single one is making small high end phones. Is every manufacturer blind to market demand and/or stupid?

> Not a single one is making small high end phones.

This is not quite true - Sony still is producing the high-end XZ2 Compact with the Snapdragon 845 and 4GB RAM - https://www.sonymobile.com/us/products/phones/xperia-xz2-com...

Sony is the only manufacturer I'm aware of that is still producing smallish phones. It is rumoured to be replacing this phone with the XZ4 Compact, but Sony is not particularly good at marketing or distributing its phones.

> Is every manufacturer blind to market demand and/or stupid?

Quite possibly. Mobile phone manufacturers seem to slavishly copy each other and copy Apple especially, as can be seen with the recent stupid copying of the removal of headphone jacks and the use of notches in many phones after Apple made these changes in its iPhones. Was the market demanding these changes? I doubt it. Were these changes necessary? No.

If everyone wants phones with larger screens, why are so many consumers holding off on upgrading their iPhone? Apple recently blamed its battery upgrade program for a $9 billion loss in revenue, but its very possible that a reasonable percentage of the users of these older iPhones simply don't the larger-screened and more expensive iPhones currently on offer.

> you'll need to explain why every phone manufacturer has come to the opposite conclusion

I suspect that manufacturers are making phones with larger screens as many consumers in what were faster-growing smartphone markets such as China and India preferred phones with larger screens so they could have a single 'smart' device, rather than buy a phone and a tablet as many consumers in developed economy markets did.

I suspect also that the lack of diversity amongst smartphone product managers and engineering staff is also having an important influence on these changes. Men are physically larger than women on average, and are over-represented in the staff of smartphone manufacturing companies. More women, older and disabled people in their staff would likely help to produce devices that suit the needs of a wider range of people, and not just young men with high levels of physical dexterity, good eyesight and higher than average interest in 'working out' how to use overly complicated smartphone interfaces.

I hope that mobile phone manufacturers can regain their ability to segment the market and produce a wider range of devices and form factors like they did until a couple of years ago. Innovation in the smartphone space has slowed dramatically, and it's no wonder that smartphone sales have also slowed.

The XZ2 Compact has no headphone jack. :(

The XZ1 Compact does! I love this phone. It has everything I want. SD card slot, headphone jack, water resistance, small, good camera and insane battery life.

The only problem with it was how hard it was to find anywhere. Agree with the comment that Sony is bad at promoting or offering their phones.

Gonna check these sony compacts out.. thanks.

In 2016, 4 inch Apple phones accounted for only 16% of total iPhone sales (see bottom of [1]). The market clearly shifted to favor bigger screens. Personally, I love the SE form factor and will only begrudgingly get a bigger phone when this one dies, but every time someone sees it they inevitably comment to the effect of "why is your phone so small?" The general market expectation is now that bigger = better, unfortunately.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/apple-iphone-se-review-retro...

This is a little misleading. The last “flagship” 4 inch iPhone was released in 2013 (iPhone 5), so it makes sense that 3 years later that they would only account for a minority of devices sold.

And that would still be over 35 million phones -or 10 times more phones than Google sells in a year.

That's just about the time people started to try the bigger screen for the first time. If the ratio goes side ways or lower, it means people aren't as interested.

Do you have any insight as to why?

I'm part of that minority and small phones seem better in so many ways. My hands are relatively big I think, but even with "small" phones now I can barely use them with one hand. The smaller screen uses less battery. Larger phones don't fit in pockets very well and result in a spot that wears through on my jeans where the corner of the phone pokes out from my pocket.

I'm really struggling to think of advantages to larger phones. I guess if you always carry around a purse/bag then the size doesn't matter as much, and if you had smaller hands then maybe one-handed use is just impossible regardless of the size. But what's the use case? It's not like a real computer where a larger screen means you can multitask better, since you can barely multitask anyway.

Larger phone also means you can fit a larger battery inside. In fact, in many cases the battery size/power consumption ratio can be improved.

Also people are spending a larger amount of their time on their phones watching video. A larger screen is an improved experience for watching video.

There has been a drastic increase in how much people use their phones. according to a 2017 study by comScore, the average American adult spends 2 hours and 51 minutes per day using their phone. Other research has returned even higher numbers; a large proportion of people spend more than a quarter of their waking hours looking at their phone.

Given such heavy use, it makes sense to use the biggest practical screen. There's a reason why books aren't the size of an index card. Screen sizes in the west have historically lagged behind middle-income markets, where smartphones leapfrogged laptops as the primary computing device for most users. Indian and Chinese customers were demanding 6" 'phablets' at a time when most manufacturers were ambivalent about breaking the 5" barrier. A 6" device is roughly the upper limit for average female hands and average trouser pockets, making it a natural point of convergence.

An iPhone SE has a screen area of 44.1cm². A phone with a 6" 16:9 display has a screen area of 99.2cm². That's still tiny compared to a paperback book (~195.8cm²), but it's pretty much the sweet spot.


> The smaller screen uses less battery

I just upgraded to the XS Max and it lasts far longer than my 5S, 6S, and 7 before it. It's even in Apple's support docs, the bigger phones have better battery life.

> I'm really struggling to think of advantages to larger phones

For me, it's all about reading. Most weekends I'm taking my kid to events that don't require my full attention. As I started using my phone for reading more, I found I was getting frustrated with the cramped space, constantly scrolling.

So this year I went all out and got the XS Max, and I gotta say: I couldn't be happier. Less scrolling, I make far fewer typing mistakes with the bigger phone, I'm not scrambling to charge my phone at 5pm.

Sure, I had to give up typing one-handed as my thumb cannot reach the opposite side of the keyboard. That's fine.

Clothing should have a certain amount of utility, IMO. Perhaps it's the jeans that need to be updated.

I'm pretty happy with the size of my phone currently, not sure it qualifies as small or large. Largest phone I had was for work, Iphone 6+, that thing was unwieldy, essentially a tablet. I wouldn't own one that big personally.

Cargo pants, right? The modern variant is called “tactical”, and can be found with flat sides rather than bulky pouches. In a dark color the pockets are almost invisible.

Vertx Legacy are my favorite. The thigh pocket has an inner magazine pocket that holds a phone perfectly. Or a backup battery. If you carry two phones, it keeps them from clunking into each other.


flat side cargo pants, that's pretty neat, I hadn't seen those.

You can't just keep making bigger pockets... Your legs and hips bend in ways that a phone can't.

Time to go back to the days when I had my Palm IIIx in a pouch on my belt http://www.militaryuniformsupply.com/files/products/p/pda-po...

> Yes, the demand really is that low. People who want a smaller phone in 2019 are a very small yet very vocal minority.

What are you basing that on?

Manufacturers not making/pushing them is a pretty good sign they're not super popular.

Hmm don't think I buy this, at least in Apple's case.

They have a monopoly on the operating system, which is what people really want with both the iPhone and the Mac.

People will still spend $3000 on a 15" MacBook Pro that they hate (because of the ridiculous touchbar) because it's the only high spec'd laptop available with macOS.

There's no way for consumers to tell Apple "we prefer no touchbar" purely with sales data because they aren't given the choice.

I think that same factor is huge with the iPhone. I have bought multiple 4.7" iPhones now, all of which I hate because of the size, but it is the smallest (correction: smallest premium) phone Apple makes/made. So looking at the data, it looks like I love the new iPhone size because I bought it, but the reality is I had no choice if I wanted to keep using iOS and didn't want to deal with a horrible experience performance-wise from aging hardware.

Apple's a special case, but we're not seeing the various Android vendors (nor the cellular carriers) giving any appreciable retail space to small devices either.

They're largely relegated to Walmart's "I need a cheap burner phone" prepaid phone department.

That’s a sign, but there are confounders.

If I market a new device that’s larger and give it better specs how can the smaller device survive? Its only feature is its size but its specs are always behind and getting further behind. The consumers will drift from it as the spec disparity increases.

From a business standpoint it seems bigger is better, but it’s the better display/storage/battery/camera that’s driving the consumer not the size.

The Unihertz Jelly and Atom kickstarters were pretty succesful. I have only used the Jelly, but its fine for a low end small phone that can display webpages/maps when necessary.

If it had better battery life I would not want anything else. But I do not play games / read or browse on my phone. I just want GPS/maps text and calls.

>People who want a smaller phone in 2019 are a very small yet very vocal minority.


Here in Japan, there are a lot of ladies with small hands, not particularly vocal on HN, and they seem to find small phones more comfortable to hold.

Go to Korea or China and you'll see there's no particular correlation between hand and phone sizes. It's mostly cultural.

North-America, Europe and Japan are over-saturated. Markets that are still growing drive the demand for bigger phones, it's really as simple as that.

Korea and China - not spent long in either, but can quite believe that larger phones would play better culturally in those countries than in Japan.

Japan - small does generally play very well here - think back to how small some of the Toshiba Libretto notebooks were.

A high-quality, small phone; easy to hold; easy to store in a small designer bag - once the novelty factor of a bigger phone has worn off - it's hard to understand why that's such a niche play.

Only Apple, Google, Samsung etc. have authoritative data. But from Apple's point of view, cancelling the iPhone SE would have simplified their supply chain, which would have been an easy sell to Tim Cook as he's an operations guy.

That doesn't mean that we'll never see another small phone from Apple again.

I think you are confusing people that want a small phone with people that want a premium small phone.

If you go with the small phone concept then your life might not revolve around your 'hand rectangle'. You also might have bought your phone ages ago and be in no hurry to upgrade.

A lot of the older folk are okay with the relatively basic phones they bought five years ago. So long as the camera is good enough for messages to close family members and the phone works for voice calls then there is no problem. These phones did have smaller screens and, for this demographic, there is no perceived point in upgrading to the expensive, fragile giant hand rectangle. Consequently they are not a vocal crowd. All slowness is them fumbling around or connection speed, the latest and greatest CPU is not important and the screen is adequate for their eyesight.

I run a basic small screen phone myself and I am toying with spending the £3.29 to get the cracked screen replaced. I could get a better phone but I would be looking at something equally small and underpowered as what I currently own, something that wouldn't even be considered a phone by most people here. 4.5" screen with plastic back and replaceable battery, with SD card slot. It will cost a tenth of the price of a premium hand-rectangle and I will probably own it for much longer than how long a premium phone is owned for.

So yes there is 'low demand' but lots of it. This demand is met by products that don't even appear on the radar of the HN crowd as 'viable'.

Apple sold some of their best numbers when they released the SE.

You might be right, but as far as I can see the SE is half the price of the next cheapest iPhone, the 7.

There is going to be a market for people who want a phone that is not $500 American dollars, and it is wise of Apple to cater too it.

> Like phones with physical keyboards

I disagree with this point. I think other manufactures simply realized it's cheaper to not include a keyboard, and since no one else is anyway, easy enough to get away with it.

How on earth do people measure demand if the market doesn’t supply?

> Yes, the demand really is that low.

As a person with bigger hands I always wonder is the demand for larger mice is really that low?

Plenty of large mice available, I am partial to vertical mice for long periods of work.

Is it really?

Go to Logitech and tell me which hand sizes suit which. Can I get larger or smaller size of the particular model I want?

I remember reading years ago some mechanic getting humongous mice from a novelty/joke shop...

how about a foldable small phone?

We’ll see if anybody can make one that doesn’t have a compromised user experience.

Even so, people who like small phones would complain that the screen is too big to use one-handed when the thing is unfolded.

Small phone equals small battery, and when you have a reduced power budget there's some things you just can't do. Small phone also obviously equals small hardware components. To the extent that components occupy physical space on a logic board, there's going to need to be a trade-off there.

People say they 'just' want a 4" modern phone, but they define it as a phone with multiple cameras, high storage capacity, and fast processors, etc. etc.. It's a nontrivial engineering challenge to get everything into a smaller package, and this at a time where the market at large has picked bigger phones as the winner.

Also, don't forget that people generally expect something that's smaller to be cheaper. Reality is, it might actually cost more money to deliver a smaller product, and at that point you're swimming against people's assumptions, not a great place to be.

So, you sit down to design a small modern phone and BAM it's just nothing but obstacles in every direction. It doesn't surprise me that the conclusion manufacturers are making is that the only winning move is not to play.

I'm not saying it's the _right_ decision necessarily, maybe someone will make an excellent small phone in the near future and the whole world will flock to it. But nothing has pushed the industry in that direction yet.

>People say they 'just' want a 4" modern phone, but they define it as a phone with multiple cameras, high storage capacity, and fast processors, etc. etc.. It's a nontrivial engineering challenge to get everything into a smaller package, and this at a time where the market at large has picked bigger phones as the winner.

I don't know. My Nexus 4 was fine with respect to all of these things when it came out. Not top of the line power, of course, but not shabby either. Surely our ability to get faster processors into the same package has significantly increased since then. If I could get the exact form factor of a Nexus 4 with any hardware improvements available since it came out over 6 years ago, I'd pick one up in a heartbeat.

My Nexus 4 is about the same size as my iPhone 6S. I just dug the Nexus out of my drawer to check. They're equally wide, and while the iPhone is slightly taller, it's a very minor difference.

My Nexus 4 also had pretty big battery issues, and that was despite having no LTE support.

The iPhone SE is one giant counter example to everything you just said.

It can be made thicker.

I heard the XZ4 compact was cancelled. https://www.androidpit.com/sony-cancels-xperia-compacts

That seems like typical media hysteria to get views. Per a much more reasonable article (https://www.xda-developers.com/sony-xperia-xz4-compact-cance...), the entirety of available evidence is this statement given during an interview:

"We stuck with Compact for a very long time, because of the ease of use. There’s always room for different sizes, but people want a lot more surface area for their content now."

That doesn't sound like a definite statement to me. A more appropriate headline would be "Future of Sony Compact series in question" or something along those lines. That just wouldn't sound as exciting though.

I don't think small phone demand is low.

I think it's just harder to make a small phone very good and premium, and keep the price low.

Concerning the Sony, I personally got the Sony X3 Compact, I was quite disappointed with the Camera. All the Sony smartphones boast great cameras, but when you use it, the UX is bad. Shutter speed is slow, interface is bad. Also like you said, it's not that small. The Google Pixel 3 is only 0.07 inch wider, I think it's a much better choice (camera much better, stock android etc...)

I use iPhone SE as my daily driver because of the form factor. Give me a premium SE with thinner bezels and I would probably pay close to iPhone X prices. There are quite a few of us out there.

Don't try to motivate Apple to make everything more expensive as it will fail them.

I don't understand why Apple can't update the SE in its current design iteration. Obviously if they can release a redesigned iPhone in a small form factor, I'd hop on it.

I want a small one handed device that has the latest specs and TouchID, and a headphone jack.

First, I think this long cycle was intentional, the small phones have a market, but not big enough to require frequent updates.

Secondly, I think Apple wants to drop the home button on all devices. The next SE will be edge-to-edge screen. This March will mark 3 years since the last release.

If it doesn't show up in March, maybe it will appear in September with the other phones.

But if it doesn't appear this year, then:

- they had production problems with the fancy screen

- OR they decided to drop the SE altogether

Back when I bought my SE, it was cheaper than getting a 6, despite having better specs. I also check for deals online a lot, and the SE was almost constantly being discounted. I think it's not unreasonable, based on these, to assume that it never really sold particularly well.

Based on that, I'd say that they stopped making the SE simply because only a very small, specific slice of the market actually wants to purchase such a device, and it's not worth keeping a unique product in their portfolio if the sales numbers just aren't there.

The 5s/SE is less than 5% of mobile traffic at our site.

Five percent of iPhones is still an enormous number when Apple sells ~200,000,000 iPhones per year. (And that's despite Apple not catering for this market for the past three product cycles. Imagine if they did!)

Some people choose a phone because they want to use it primarily as a communication device.

Website metrics are mostly meaningless in a conversation about people who want a phone, but not a primary internet device.

Simple, because people would buy it instead of the more expensive new iPhones. They don't want unit sales anymore, they want ASP.

Firstly, final phone price doens't matter. Margins matter. These phones are old hardware; it's not inconceivable that mass-producing them would yield margins just as good (if not better) than the cutting-edge.

Secondly, Armament Systems and Procedures? Active Server Pages?

Average Selling Price.

I guess it's time for all those HN people who were moaning about iPhones being too big/expensive/lacking in home buttons/etc... to put their money where their mouths are.

It's a 2016 model, so it should remain supported until at least 2021. Not far off, but still better than some (many?) Android phones.

I'm not sure how $299/128GB compares to Android products, but it's cheaper than its previous $449 price.

I'd pick one up myself, except that I have a 5 that keeps on chugging along.

they have put their money where their mouths are...the linked iPhone SE is already sold out, despite it just being an hour since this article was posted

i really want one, i wish i saw this sooner

edit: its still available in other colors, its not sold out yet,,

the linked iPhone SE is already sold out, despite it just being an hour since this article was posted

Hopefully that's a strong enough signal to be noticed at a meeting inside Apple.

+1. I would love to see an updated SE too.

I do think that unless there's someone actively looking for signals, they won't, but I do hope the lackluster sales on their newer models has them giving the market the SE targeted a second look.

> It's a 2016 model, so it should remain supported until at least 2021.

According to [1], customers "may obtain service and parts from Apple or Apple service providers for 5 years after the product is no longer manufactured" -- not from when the model was first manufactured.

The 32/128 GB models were manufactured from 2017-2018, so these should be supported until 2023.

[1]: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201624

I think he means “iOS supported”.

Well seeing that the iPhone 5s from 2013 is still supported in 2019, I don’t see any reason that the SE/6S won’t get support until 2021.

That’s what reaperducer said (“it should remain supported until at least 2021”), while ken says that getting parts and service should be possible until 2023.

$250/32 is barely competitive. however, you cannot buy an android phone this small that isn't complete garbage

I've been using SE for the past 2 years and it is perfect for its price and I have a plan to at least use it for another year too. Its fluid animation and acceptable performance make it way superior to most Android phones. I switched from Nexus 5 and I am not going to buy any Android phone until Google guarantees I am going to get OS+Security updates for at least 4 years.

The only security feature I really want is a preinstalled user-configurable firewall.

Keeps your system firewalled and your apps sandboxed and there's less of a need for constant OS patches.

But it's notable that even 'privacy first' Apple doesn't ship a firewall because that would interfere with the market for ad-supported apps.

Configuring a firewall sounds like the opposite of the ease of use Apple wants to be associated with the App Store. Doubt that will ever be preinstalled.

I believe you could theoretically install one on iOS using the VPN functionality available... a quick google only finds “guardian mobile firewall” which is still in beta though.

Using a Motorola G3 since something like 4 years (maybe 5? not sure). I paid less than 200 euros for it (150 iirc) and with a factory reset just today, it runs great. It is acceptably small (5") and seems unbreakable: never had a cover and drop it sometimes like a normal person, yet not a sign of a crack on the screen.

So yes, you can buy an android that isn't garbage. Some are, definitely, but with just a bit of research you'll find good phones.

Motorola has a few that are good, clean and in that range

All of them are a full inch larger in screen and most even larger in bezel.

Some people will never be pleased.

When Lenovo came out with that throwback laptop the HN thread was full of curmudgeons nitpicking every little detail they thought was wrong about the retro laptop they always said they wanted Lenovo to make. The same thing would happen if somebody made a new small premium phone. Such people are impossible to please and there isn’t much point trying.

The main problem with that throwback laptop was the horrible battery life. 3 hours rated life might have been acceptable in the early 2000s, but nowadays, that's weak.

Combine that with the price ($1900 MSRP) and you have a device that comes off as a cynical, overpriced money-grab directed at the retro aesthetic crowd, especially considering that it's basically a slight upgrade of the T470.

It wasn't a bad machine. In fact, it got above-average reviews. Still, something really burns about being so close to perfection and making unforced errors that keep them under the line.

It was also retro in the wrong ways - 7th gen dual-core "i7" when the 8th gen with 15W real ones was out (or at most around the corner), and an underpowered last-gen CPU.

People wanted something that wasn't just retro, but a true classic in other respects as well.

> Some people will never be pleased.

If the main ask is that the phone be small, the phone being over an inch larger than specification hardly seems unreasonable to complain about.

$250 isn't a good price. The SE/32 was advertised and sold for $79 at WalMart on Black Friday 2018 and was advertised and sold for $99 at WalMart on Black Friday 2017. Both times no-contract.

Those are door buster sales.

Anyways, I looked it up - they were also carrier locked to walmart mobile, a mvno in which the price of the phone is subsidized.

> Those are door buster sales.

Not correct at all and why do you have to make a fake new account to post your false troll?

WalMart for several years has been maintaining sufficient stock for advertised black friday items. They had sufficient stock for everyone that wanted one, and they also were selling it online as well on Black Friday with free shipping.

I bought FOUR and gave them to friends and family. I use mine as a camera, mp3 player, and portable web browser and have never paid an additional cent for it.

I googled it. Maybe the results were misleading.

So, you're saying that the phone you bought you didn't use as a phone? Hmmm....

Also, this isn't a fake account. I don't think anything I've posted was intended to troll.

How much does it sell for at walmart now?

If you are into iPhones I think that $299 is a great price, even compared to Android phones.

I bought an Xperia X Compact in 2016 and I hope it will keep going for many years. The new Xperia Compact models are larger and heavier. Not really so compact anymore.

6.5" , no headphone jack

cant really compare global edition prices to us phones, since the global editions don't pay qualcomm.

I’m curious how your 5 “keeps chugging along” - even a year ago my 5s was sluggish (not to mention battery lasted half a day) and the responsiveness of an X in comparison was night and day

iOS 12 gave em a new lease of life.

iPhone 5 cannot run iOS 12.

poster indicated 5s, which IIRC can run ios12.

They are out of stock now.

I own 2 already, not sure I can justify a third.

Wish this came before I refreshed to one of their newest models. The iPhone 5 form factor is still my favorite.

I bought a brand new SE a few months ago for $180. It was from a third party but Apple verified the serial as original and unused. It wasn't availability or pricing that kept them from anyone who wanted one, it was the lack of name-brand-new-thing validation.

Mind sharing were you ordered it from?

It was an Amazon third-party seller.

Hardware lends itself to a vertical business model, Apple has clearly been the best example but even video game console manufacturers write their own games.

With AI assistants seemingly the 'next big thing', which lends itself to a more horizontal model, will Apple change gears to accommodate? Their services division has been growing rapidly.

Apple could leverage it's brand to create an awesome cell phone at a very cheap price. Not a lot of low income people are buying the the XR, my sister has had to replace her iPhone for at least six months but as a college student she's not going to spend a grand on a phone. Maybe it's time for Apple to dial down the luxury brand pricing and make a phone for the common man?

> With AI assistants seemingly the 'next big thing'

Are 'AI Assistants' the 'next big thing' in the same way that 'chatbots' where the 'next big thing' in 2015?

To me, it just seems that the market is mostly propped up by Medium articles and vendors trying to force the next big thing to make payday.

Not a lot of low income people are buying the the XR, my sister has had to replace her iPhone for at least six months but as a college student she's not going to spend a grand on a phone.

Why do people act as if the only choice for Apple products is the highest priced option? This is about how people are composing that they have to buy AirPods now that there is no headphone jack.

Apple sells the iPhone 7 for $475.

Why does everyone love this phone so much? Clue me in?

The iPhone SE was the last stand of a dead philosophy - the one-handed phone.

To Steve Jobs, it was absolutely essential that all of the core functions of the iPhone could be performed with one hand. That requirement dictated large parts of the iPhone's design and the UX principles of iOS. One-handed operation formed a key part of the marketing of the iPhone 5.


The one-handed phone represents the phone as a means to an end rather than an end itself. You make a quick call to your partner while holding the baby, you check your shopping list while pushing a grocery cart, you send a text while holding a beer. The one-handed phone does a job, then gets out of your way. It's never the total focus of your attention.

Bigger phones are obviously better for intensive use. If you sit an iPhone SE and an iPhone X side-by-side, the iPhone 5 seems comically tiny. It's lousy for web browsing, it's lousy for reading e-books, it's lousy for watching movies. It seems like a relic from a different age. That's because it is - it's a relic from an age when a smartphone was a smart phone, rather than a pocket computer. Rightly or wrongly, there's no turning back from here.

I wouldn't call it a dead philosophy, just a marginalized one. There are still plenty of people around who treat their phone as a means to an end. Frankly, the new philosophy of hardware makers trying to get phones to take over people's lives is a morally bankrupt one.

I'm reminded of Star Trek and the way technology is depicted on the show. Most episodes are about people (human or alien) and their relationships to one another. Technology is only a means to an end on Star Trek.

One episode stands out, however: The Game [1]. In this episode, nearly the entire Enterprise comes under the thrall of an addictive video game. The ship would've been lost if not for the efforts of an intrepid pair of youngsters. It's an interesting inversion of the usual trope that the older generation is the one warning against the dangers of a new form of entertainment.

But I digress. I brought up Star Trek because I think the show makes a very important point: humans matter, technology is just a tool. When technology starts to matter too much, humans suffer.

[1] http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/The_Game_(episode)

I recently bought an iPhone SE and you've articulated why I bought it far better than I could. Well done!

I know a simple upvote would suffice but just wanted to tell you that, on my iPhone SE, of course :)

+1, this comment is spot on. I'd also add, it feels both more useful yet not utilitarian.

When I first saw the iPhone 6 the design struck me as lousy. It feels great in the hand and the hardware is top-notch, but it definitely felt like a phone they could build easily, while knowing you're most likely going to put a case on it-- quite utilitarian. On the other hand, after the iPhone 4 I had no idea how Apple would outdo its hardware design, but the iPhone 5 with its chamfered edges and unibody enclosure is, IMO one of if not the best Apple ever had. I'm happy that design was inherited in the SE.

In the sense of usability though, in spite of the utilitarian design new iPhones have lost both the headphone jack and TouchID! Moreover, they're too big to use with one hand. In that sense, the SE still feels more "useful", and it's why I keep mine around.

I do like having a /slightly/ larger screen for those tasks. Without going to a full tablet or laptop I feel that something vaguely the size of a Pixel 1 is perfect for viewing. However I'd still like an input mode where I can use functionality from either edge with one thumb. For me a mobile is mostly a media /consumption/ device and also a method of making a quick voice call or dictating (speech to text) a reply that can't wait until I get to a real terminal.

The next logical steps up for screen-size feel like 8 inches for a small tablet and about 12-13 for a full tablet or small laptop, and are both too big for mobiles; I feel like having an input mode that allows one-handed use would serve most of the market that does want a smaller device. The hold outs would prefer the smaller device for a combination of fit inside of other things and weight.

I can use the iPhone X with one hand (and do, most often, even when I have the other hand free) and I have pretty small hands, so I'm not sure why it's considered a phone in the "post-one-hand" era.

The comfortable one-handed operation is my top reason, I'm a pretty active person and a phone that I can comfortably use with one hand (and also easily stow in and remove from the front pockets on my jeans) is much more useful to me than a phone that I cannot. I also enjoy the headphone jack which allows me to use any pair of conventional headphones, without requiring an adapter. Finally, the square edges (in contrast to rounded) make the phone a great bottle opener.

I liked the size. The only thing I want is for them to extend the display to be close to or totally without bezel. I’ll probably pick this up to be my international travel/backup phone (now that Google Fi officially supports iOS).

The specs are sadly dated but I’m still running an iPhone 7 and the SE isn’t that far behind hardware-wise. For my use cases (some productivity software, maps, music, and chat) I have zero need for newer hardware any time soon. I have a full fledged computer if I really need something fast. And the 128GB option is only $50 more which isn’t bad.

Also, I like the audio jack. I do miss that on my 7 (and, consequently, newer devices).

Finally, there may be size wise comparable android phones but I’m not in that ecosystem. I’ve tried (using a couple Nexus devices for a year each in the past). There are too many things I like better in iOS or apps that didn’t have a direct port and whose equivalent wasn’t really equal.

Personally, I want to deliberately make it difficult to spend my life looking at my phone, but still have a tool to use to look at maps, navigate, etc.

Size. Great for one-hand operations. Easily fits on pockets or anywhere. Apple Pay & Touch ID. A9 chip. Relatively disposable. Got it for $99 at Walmart, 32 GB version. Screen size is not as important for me.

Been very happy with it for about 2 years.

What do you mean $99 at Walmart?

If you need a phone but can't go without a smartphone the SE is excellent: small; decent camera; good battery life; runs the latest iOS.

It comfortably fits in one hand, has a headphone jack, with adequate battery life and performance and camera.

The jack. Also the iPhone 6 was bigger and the rounded edges and corners introduced a bend/crack hazard, so in a back pocket, sitting down, there was enough leverage across the larger size to introduce force that bends it in the middle, cracking the screen.

So, the iPhone 5 appeals to people who want a small, durable, fully featured smart phone, with a normal headphone jack. The iPhone 6 and up all have bigger screens, but 6 is the last version with a headphone jack, and it is definitely less computationally powerful and measurably slower than everything after it.

At the time I got it, I wanted to move to iOS. I couldn't afford the flagship 6S (even with monthly payments) and I heard rumors that they were going to make a 5s with 6S internals. It was still expensive to me at the time (at $500 for 64GB) and I was pissed when a 128GB model came for $400, but I'm very happy with it.

Having used it now for 3 years, I've really enjoyed it. It's small, sure, but it works so well in one hand. It's also incredibly powerful. It's amazing just how many high end apps you can run without issue.

Right now, I'm not sure what I'll do next. I got annoyed with the iPhone X's direction and anticipated that I'd keep it until the battery dies at which point I'd replace battery and keep it until either the updates stop or the atoms give up. Now, I'm not sure. It's starting to show its age (slightly) even with the new battery. As much as I enjoy the form factor, I wanna look into the future. It would be great if they shoved XS specs (including cameras, OLED and 3D touch) into an SE-like body, but that isn't gonna happen.

I can reach most of the screen with just one thumb. It isn't gigantic

Own 5ea. May buy more. The only thing holding me back was the band 12 capability but it appears that's now included and 128GB is a nice bit of storage.

I can carry it around in my pocket during the day, it fits in my shorts pocket when I run, does everything I want from a phone and doesn't feel 'cheap'.

Even with an otter-box it still fits in a pocket and can take a beating.

Because the form factor is just about perfect. Large enough that there's plenty of screen space, and small enough that you can comfortably use it with one hand.

I believe it’s the size. I don’t get it, but many of friends prefer smaller phones.

Fits neater in a pocket. Great for basic communication and tasks such as maps. Not the center of your life.

I prefer using other devices for videos/gaming/etc.

For something to listen to music, order a car, view maps, communicate or browse a web page it’s really perfect. Fits in a pocket and can be used with one hand.

Some people have small hands and/or short fingers. If you don't, it's hard to sympathize. Imagine trying to use a nine inch tablet with one hand.

I have, I think, relatively large hands (I'm a 5'11" cis guy / I can comfortably play a 9th on a piano and uncomfortably play a 10th) and I still find the SE as large as I can manage. I want to be able to hold the phone in one hand and reach everything with my thumb. I can't do that on the 6 or anything larger. (I'd prefer the iPhone 4 form factor, with one fewer row of icons, if possible.)

A couple years ago they called large phones "phablets." We've lost that word now.

> A couple years ago they called large phones "phablets." We've lost that word now.

The correct term is tablone <grin>.

I loved my SE until I bricked it jumping in our local pool not feeling it was still in my pocket — one of the downsides not yet mentioned. I brought my previous Nexus 6 out of retirement since there aren't any phones, Android or iPhone, that is worth new pricing right now.

Plus, I demand a 3.5mm headphone jack — dropping that was the most annoying design choice I can remember in a long time, in any consumer device.


They prefer a large format phone. (Compared to the iPhone 3G)

It has a headphone jack, is usable with one hand, and fits in girl pockets.

Personally, its price. I would never buy an Android and I don't want to pay full price to own an iPhone. It sucks that you've got to be wealthy to have privacy and security. The small screen blows, though. (That's not to say I like big screens, but 4.7" would be so much better...)

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