The iPhone SE was the best phone Apple ever made, and now it’s dead
I solely needed one factor out of 2018’s iPhone occasion: a brand new iPhone SE. In failing to supply it Apple appears to have quietly put the mannequin out to pasture — and for this I curse them eternally. As a result of it was the very best telephone the corporate ever made.

Should you have been one of many many who handed over the SE again in 2015, when it made its debut, that’s comprehensible. The iPhone 6S was the most recent and best, and naturally fastened just a few of the issues Apple had kindly launched with the totally new design of the 6. However for me the SE was an ideal match.

See, I’ve at all times cherished the iPhone design that started with the 4. That storied telephone is maybe finest remembered for being left in a bar forward of launch and leaked by Gizmodo — which is just too dangerous, as a result of for as soon as the product was worthy of the lavish unveiling Apple now bestows on each gadget it places out.

The Four established a completely new industrial design aesthetic that was directly immediately recognizable and extremely sensible. Gone have been the graceful, rounded edges and again of the stainless unique iPhone (in all probability the second-best telephone Apple made) and the jellybean-esque 3G and 3GS.

Within the place of these gentle curves have been laborious strains and uncompromising geometry: a belt of steel working across the edge, set off from the glass sides by the slightest of steps. It highlighted and set off the black glass of the display screen and bezel, producing a of specular define from any angle.

The digicam was flush and the house button (RIP) sub-flush, totally contained throughout the physique, making the gadget completely flat each back and front. In the meantime the aspect buttons boldly stood out. Quantity in daring, etched circles; the mute swap simple to seek out however unimaginable to by accident activate; the ability button completely positioned for a reaching index finger. Observe that every one these options are straight pointed at usability: making issues simpler, higher, extra accessible, whereas additionally being engaging and cohesive as components of a single object.

In comparison with the iPhone 4, each single different telephone, together with Samsung’s new “iPhone killer” Galaxy S, was a cheap-looking mess of plastic, incoherently designed or at finest workmanlike. And don’t assume I’m talking as an Apple fanboy; I used to be not an iPhone consumer on the time. In truth, I used to be in all probability nonetheless utilizing my beloved G1 — speak about magnificence and the beast!

The design was sturdy sufficient that it survived the initially awkward transition to an extended display screen within the 5, and with that technology it additionally gained the improved rear aspect that alleviated the telephone’s unlucky tendency in the direction of… nicely, shattering.

The 2-tone gray iPhone 5S, nevertheless, basically left no room for enchancment. And after Four years, it was admittedly maybe time to freshen issues up a bit. Sadly, what Apple ended up doing was subtracting all character from the gadget whereas including nothing however display screen house.

The 6 was, to me, merely ugly. It was paying homage to the plethora of boring Android telephones on the time — merely larger high quality than them, not totally different. The 6S was equally ugly, and the 7 by eight one way or the other additional banished any design that set themselves aside, whereas reversing course on some sensible measures in permitting an more and more massive digicam bump and dropping the headphone jack. The X, no less than, seemed a bit totally different.

However to return to the subject at hand, it was after the 6S that Apple had launched the SE. Though it nominally stood for “Particular Version,” the identify was additionally a nod to the Macintosh SE. Satirically given the unique which means of “System Growth,” the brand new SE was the alternative: basically an iPhone 6S within the physique of a 5S, full with improved digicam, Contact ID sensor, and processor. The transfer was probably supposed as a type of lifeboat for customers who nonetheless couldn’t convey themselves to modify to the drastically redesigned, and significantly bigger, new mannequin.

It might take time, Apple appears to have reasoned, to transform these folks, the categories who hardly ever purchase first technology Apple merchandise and cherish usability over novelty. So why not coddle them a bit by this tough transition?

The SE appealed not simply to the nostalgic and neophobic, however merely individuals who choose a smaller telephone. I don’t have significantly massive or small fingers, however I most popular this extremely pocketable, confirmed design to the brand new one for plenty of causes.

Flush digicam so it doesn’t get scratched up? Test. Regular, pressable dwelling button? Test. Flat, symmetrical design? Test. Precise edges to carry onto? Test. 1000’s of instances already accessible? Test — though I didn’t use one for a very long time. The SE is finest with out one.

On the time, the iPhone SE was extra compact and higher wanting than something Apple provided, whereas making virtually no compromises in any respect by way of performance. The one attainable objection was its measurement, and that was (and is) a matter of style.

It was the very best object Apple ever designed, crammed with the very best tech it had ever developed. It was the very best telephone it ever made.

And the very best telephone it’s made since then, too, in the event you ask me. Ever because the 6, it appears to me that Apple has solely drifted, casting about for one thing to captivate its customers the way in which the iPhone 4’s design and new graphical capabilities did, all the way in which again in 2010. It honed that design to a leading edge after which, when everybody anticipated the corporate to leap ahead, it tiptoed as an alternative, maybe afraid to spook the golden goose.

To me the SE was Apple permitting itself one final victory lap on the again of a design it might by no means surpass. It’s comprehensible that it might not need to admit, this a few years on, that anybody may presumably choose one thing it created practically a decade in the past to its thousand-dollar flagship — a tool, I really feel I have to add, that not solely compromises visibly in its design (I’ll by no means personal a notched telephone if I may help it) however backpedals on sensible options utilized by tens of millions, like Contact ID and a 3.5mm headphone jack. That is consistent with equally user-unfriendly decisions made elsewhere in its lineup.

So whereas I’m upset in Apple, I’m not stunned. In spite of everything, it’s upset me for years. However I nonetheless have my SE, and I intend to maintain it for so long as attainable. As a result of it’s the very best factor the corporate ever made, and it’s nonetheless a hell of a telephone.

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