AMITIAE - Thursday 5 May 2016

Apple's iPhone SE Landing in Thailand

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers

iPhone SE

Within the next few days, the iPhone SE is due to go on sale in Thailand. The local carriers have announced that it will be available as from next Wednesday (11 May). I have been trying one out for the last few days and like what I see for a number of reasons.

When I first saw the iPhone SE in photographs, as well as its similarity to the iPhone 5 models, it looked close in size to the iPod touch. I was able to confirm this: they match each other in certain respects, although the iPod has rounded edges like the latest iPhones.

iPod Touch, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

One of the major points that I like, and which has been mentioned as a plus point by several local users, is that it retains the body of the iPhone 5 and 5S. This may well have helped Apple reduce some of the development costs, especially considering the components inside the device.

iPhone SE

iPhone SE iPhone SE

iPhone SE

I must admit, I am rather fond of this body both from an aesthetic viewpoint and practicality: I can balance it on its side when taking some photographs, which is impossible with the iPhone 6 and 6S models. Another plus point for me is that, like the iPhone 5 and iPod touch, the On/Off button is located at the top and not the side like the iPhone 6.

  • The iPhone SE is 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm with a weight of 113 gms;

  • iPod touch is 123.4 mm x 58.6 mm x 6.1 mm and weighs 88 gms.

One of the main features of the iPhone SE is the 4" screen. Some have praised this after Apple's ventures into larger screens, especially the iPhone 6S Plus (which I use every day). This is the same as the iPod touch, including the 1136 x 640-pixel resolution at 326 pp.

However, it is significant that the iPhone SE has the A9 chip like the iPhone 6S, but with an embedded M9 motion coprocessor. The iPod touch has an A8 chip and the 8MP iSight camera. Like current iPhones, the iPhone SE has the 12-megapixel camera with 1.22 µm pixel size and some of the additional photo features making it far closer to the iPhone 6S in terms of output:

  • Live Photos
  • Autofocus with Focus Pixels
  • True Tone flash
  • Panorama (up to 63 megapixels)
  • Auto HDR for photos
  • Exposure control
  • Burst mode
  • Timer mode
  • ƒ/2.2 aperture

Not shown in the tech specs is the lens size. With its focal length of 4.15mm, this is also the same as the iPhone 6S Plus and the iPhone 6S. The iPhone SE fits more neatly into the hand than the larger devices, so I found it easier to handle when taking photographs.

I was also impressed with the output: the files sizes are the same for the iPhone 6s models, but the images produced seemed a little more saturated and were certainly as sharp.

It is also significant that along with the other features of the camera - Live Photos, Slo-Mo, Time Lapse and Panoramas (up to 63 MP) - this little device is capable of 4K video (settings for this are in Photos & Camera > Record Video)

A number of local users have already asked me about the iPhone SE which is on their wanted lists. Two aspects are discussed most: the size; and the pricing.

Although I prefer the larger screen of the iPhone 6S plus now, it took me a couple of steps to acclimatize to it. I first bought the iPhone 6, but later tried the iPhone 6 Plus. It grew on me, so that when the iPhone 6S arrived, I decided to make the iPhone 6S Plus my device of choice. I am glad that I did.

Not everyone likes the size. One of my students was keen on the iPhone SE because she was frightened of dropping the larger devices. She had a point: when I saw it sitting in her hand, she was unable to grip it properly and needs to hold it in two to be safe. The device will suit those whose hands are smaller: my mother has small hands.

The other aspect is price. Without reducing quality, Apple has been able to pitch the iPhone SE at a considerably lower price than the iPhone 6S which of course will attract buyers: already the device is seeing success that supplies are constrained in some countries. Apple had already anticipated that this smaller device would be attractive to some who are new to the iPhone. A couple of days ago, Neil Hughes of AppleInsider wrote an article: "Apple reportedly increases iPhone SE chip orders amid greater-than-expected demand" based on rumors from DigiTimes.

In Thailand, the 16GB iPhone 6S Plus is priced at 30,500 baht, with the iPhone 6S at 26,500 baht, the iPhone SE starts almost 10,000 baht below that at 16,800 baht: a major difference.

There are some things missing. For example, while the iPhone SE does have TouchID, it does not have 3D touch. This would have required different glass as well as special sensors which would have put the price up.

The device does have Siri and I have been able to use the "Hey Siri" feature with no problems. Along with the rest of Apple's current iPhones and iPads, it has the faster 802.11ac WiFi capability along with LTE connectivity, which is said to be faster than the iPhone 5s. The weight and size make it ideal also for those who enjoy sporting activities like running: it is more easily stowed than the current iPhones.

Orders for the device have been open since Monday (2 May) with the local carriers. The device will be available from them starting next Wednesday (11 May). At this time, Apple's own iPhone SE ordering pages for Thailand are not yet live (nor is this shown on the English language pages for Thailand). I will update the information when available.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2016