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New iPhone SE is great unless you're the competition, and more

When Apple's newest iPhone has flagship performance for $399, we all need to lie down for a minute. Plus, solar breakthrough!

Published onApril 16, 2020

Apple iPhone SE 2020

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Thursday, April 16.

1. iPhone SE 2020 launch: Wait, a flagship killer, from Apple?

Apple’s new small phone is out, the iPhone SE 2nd generation of iPhone SE 2020, featuring the latest Apple chipset in an iPhone 8 body, and a size up from the previous generation:

  • The big news is that this iPhone SE packs a beastly chipset: the A13 Bionic, which is in the flagship iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro line right now.
  • The iPhone SE has all the iPhone 8’s features: the comparatively small 4.7-inch display, tucked into Apple’s old hardware design including Touch ID instead of Face ID, big bezels, no headphone jack, and just 64GB of storage, in black, white, or red. It does offer wireless charging, Apply Pay via NFC, and has water/dust resistance, with IP67 rating.
  • The iPhone SE retails for $399, with pre-orders starting April 17.
  • The A13 chipset means that it’s not quite like a refurbished iPhone 8. It means long-term Apple support, warranty, and all Apple’s brand promises.
  • And Apple, probably fairly, claims it is the fastest processor on the market.
  • All in all, this is Apple’s best deal for a competent device. Apple has stopped sales on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus too.


  • Timing: Apple couldn’t time this launch better. Affordability is everything at the moment, and boom, here’s Apple’s most affordable, and probably easily recommendable device. (Once we see the reviews.)
  • Size: A 4.7-inch screen seems tiny, but Apple says 500 million people own an iPhone with a 4.7-inch screen already, so there. Those who wanted a 4-inch screen like the original iPhone SE might be disappointed but I mean, those days are over.
  • Big: It’s still an ancient design for the tech world. The 4.7-inch screen itself might be fine but it’s held within a giant oversized body.
  • What matters: It’s not a revolutionary design or innovation packed device. But, most likely, none of that matters for those people who just want a good, reliable, capable phone with a decent camera. Many of those people, especially in the US, just want an iPhone because that’s all they know, they want iMessage, all their apps are there, and so on.
  • Battery life? I’m intrigued by the iPhone SE’s battery life. According to official filings, the new SE seems to have the same battery size as the iPhone 8, at 1821mAh. That’s a low number, and quite a bit less than the iPhone 11 at 3,046mAh. The much smaller screen will help squeeze more life out of every mAh, but I’d be surprised if battery life was similar.
  • Tough on the refurbished market: If you’re a phone reseller or refurbisher, life just got tough. This beats most of what was in stock in the second-hand iPhone market.
  • Margin? Apple’s margin on its iPhones is usually as high as 60%, or more. It would be a surprise if that didn’t continue.

More money, more problems:

  • It’s incredible that Apple releases a flagship killer one day after OnePlus debuted its OnePlus 8 series at its highest ever price: $699 for the OnePlus 8, $899 for its better OnePlus 8 Pro.
  • How can that be? The smartphone market has to be one of the most exciting in the world right now.
  • But we did see one brand, in particular, get this cheaper phone story right last year: that was the Google Pixel 3a for $399, which despite not being a flagship was one of the best (and most recommended smartphones) of 2019.
  • The $399 Google Pixel 3a and bigger Pixel 3a XL, for $479, didn’t win many battles on its specs alone, with mid-range features. But it delivered a great Google-optimized experience for buyers: phenomenal Pixel camera, best-in-class user experience, great battery life, and speedy software updates to keep it going.
  • The Pixel 3a is now $250 at BestBuy, and $299 at Amazon, btw. The 3a XL goes for $424 on Amazon, but has been cheaper.
  • The Google Pixel 4a, which could be out within 1.5-to-2 months in a normal year, will be hotly anticipated.
  • And that rumored OnePlus Z phone, a return to a killer mid-range OnePlus phone, will be closely watched as well.

Overall – stay tuned:

  • The iPhone SE 2020 hasn’t seen any reviews yet to tell truly us if, and how, it’s better than the iPhone 8 (which until yesterday retailed for $449.)
  • You’d expect an improved camera courtesy of the A13 chip, but battery life may only be average given the iPhone 8 wasn’t great for the time either.

More: iPhone SE: The right phone at the right time, and that’s bad news for the competition (Android Authority).

2. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is keeping the non-Apple tablet dream alive. No official pricing yet, but a leak suggested $350 (Android Authority).

3. Motorola Edge leaks again: A more affordable Edge with 64MP camera can’t be far away (Android Authority).

6. Huh, even Google is slowing its hiring for rest of 2020 (Reuters).

7. Profile of Lee Holloway, Cloudflare’s third founder, considered a genius, who suffered a neurodegenerative disease: What happened to Lee? (long read) (Wired).

8. Where did all the antimatter go? Scientists are closer to finding out (Gizmodo).

9. Can a wearable detect COVID-19 before symptoms appear? Stanford researchers are finding out (Wired).

10. Two new solar cells break records, including highest efficiency ever (47.1%) (New Atlas).

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