iPhone SE: 10 features that didn’t make the cut

By , Apr 4, 2016

iPhone SE 10 missing  features

The iPhone SE has the body of an iPhone 5s, but with all of Apple’s latest tech. Well, most of it anyway. In this post and video, we’ve compiled a list of the latest features that didn’t make the cut to Apple’s four inch handset.

7000 Series Aluminum

The iPhone SE has an Aluminum body like all of Apple’s phones, but it doesn’t include the harder 7000 series Aluminum that debuted with the introduction of the Apple Watch. That means the phone may not hold up quite as well to drops, dings, and scratches than the 6s.

Water Resistance

Apple never publicly acknowledges the water resistance of their phones, but thanks to teardowns from sites like iFixit, we know that the iPhone 6s was the most water resistance iPhone to date. The inclusion of adhesive around the display, silicon seals on circuitry, as well as other preventative measures help keep liquid out. It isn’t enough to take your phone swimming, but should help the occasional splash. It looks like these helpful additions didn’t make it to the SE.

Improved contrast ratio and viewing angle

iPhone 5s and the iPhone SE both only have 800:1 contrast ratios which is much below the 1400:1 and 1300:1 on Apple’s larger phones. If you are coming from an iPhone 5s or earlier, you probably won’t notice the difference. The SE also doesn’t include Dual-Domain pixels which improve viewing angles.

Second-generation Touch ID

Touch ID is a great feature. It has new capabilities on the SE compared to the 5s with the inclusion of Apple Pay. Unfortunately, it is still a first-generation sensor. Speed and accuracy are a bit behind the 2nd-generation model that came out with the iPhone 6s.

3D Touch

3D Touch is still a luxury only afforded to those on an iPhone 6s/6s Plus. While it may have been a cost saving measure to keep the price low, it also could be a logistical challenge on how to display the popup menus of 3D Touch on such a diminutive screen.

Optical Image Stabilization

The rear camera got a huge update from the 5s. It now can shoot up to 12MP, Live Photos, 4k video, and 240p slow motion. The one thing that it didn’t get isn’t much of a surprise, and that is optical image stabilization. This is only available in Apple’s “Plus” sized handsets so not even the 6s has this feature, but still worth mentioning.

5MP FaceTime camera

Even though the rear camera got quite the upgrade, the front camera wasn’t so lucky. The forward-facing shooter only is 1.2 megapixels. That means your selfies, especially those at night, will be a bit more on the grainy side. The good news is, it still contains the Retina Flash which uses the screen to add additional brightness to your dimly lit photos.

Larger storage options

Apple is known for undercutting memory on their devices, and often charging quite the premium to get extra storage. While the SE is their cheapest phone and coming in light on memory is no surprise, the maximum available is only 64GB, whereas the iPhone 6s can max out at 128gb. If you are looking for more than 64GB, you will have to look at Apple’s larger screened phones.


Introduced in the iPhone 6, the barometer is a way to more accurately tell your altitude, to glean information like the flights of stairs you’ve ascended or descended. It was also used in other interesting ways. Dark Sky (and other weather apps) for instance use the barometer of users phones to collect data in order to more accurately predict rainfall. Without the barometer, it looks like the iPhone SE owners won’t get to join in on the stair climbing fun.

Taptic Engine

The Taptic Engine replaced the vibration motor on the 6s, mostly to give some form of feedback for 3D Touch. The Taptic Engine can get up to full speed in one cycle which means it can give more precise, shorter vibrations. In short, it is able to offer different degrees of vibration and can more subtle than the heavy handed motor in previous phones. Especially with the lack of 3D Touch, it isn’t surprising the SE didn’t get the more modern motor.

Wrap up

These 10 features may be missing from the SE, but for those looking for a phone with a smaller screen, the SE is close to ideal. If you were looking forward to a smaller phone, are any of these deal breaks for you? Did any of these ommissions surprise you?

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  • fiiiiine

    I wanted a smaller phone but I like 3D Touch too much to get the SE.

    I wish there were 2 lines:

    High-end line (small, med, large)
    Budget line with missing features (small, med, large)

    • Guilherme 

      That would be too many phones, if Apple did that it would look like Samsung.

      • fiiiiine

        Maybe the Plus would be exclusive to the high end line. But the budget line shouldn’t just be a small phone. That’s silly. Not everyone wants all the fancy features you don’t need, but not all of those people want a tiny phone.

        People are starting to get very confused about the differences between the Plus line, the S line, and now the SE line. This would make it more simple, predictable, consistent, and logical.

      • Jack Wong

        Then people like me would complain about I want 6s size but full power.

      • fiiiiine

        No I mean, there’d be 5 phones:

        iPhone 7 Mini
        iPhone 7
        iPhone 7 Plus

        iPhone 7 SE Mini
        iPhone 7 SE

        And if they couldn’t do all the non-SE features in the Mini, then they could make the Mini exclusive to the SE line.

  • tariq

    this phone is just a fail. They should of made a 6c instead, or just not make a smaller phone at all..

    • fiiiiine

      I think there should be a budget line that uses the cool plastic cases of the 5c, and at least two sizes, small and medium.

      The high-end line with all the feature can stay aluminum and have a small, medium and plus size phone. If they can’t do a small, then maybe the small is limited to the budget line.

    • Bill

      Well, you can always refer to it as a 6c if you’d like. I’m sure if Apple called it a 6c, it would be the exact same phone that it really is today anyways, so the title is a moot point. And maybe the phone is “just a fail” to YOU, but plenty of people think it’s just fine and dandy. Including myself.

      • tariq

        by 6C i meant a smaller phone, with same features as the 6. Instead of taking out 3D touch, putting a 1mpx front camera. 16GB storage is not enough space if someone wants to record in 4K. And the body is thicker but not stronger. I dont see why someone wouldnt just buy a 5S instead, unless they really badly just want a rose gold color.

      • Mike Colacone Saal

        Uhh this phone is cheaper full price than the 5s was last month by $50 and far superior to it… Why would anyone want the 5s over this…….

      • tariq

        i was referring to eBay prices

  • Mohammed Sahib

    I was wondering about which version of touch ID the SE has. Thanks for clarification. In spite of all the missing features I still believe the SE is a good phone. Excellent specs in a tiny form + relatively cheap price (for an iPhone) are great. I am tempted to replace my venerable iP5!

  • Micke på taket

    1,2 mp on front shooter 2016 is a joke , no .. Its a scam .. Wtf .. Im satisfied With My iPhone 6s but Apple should step IT up

    • Bill

      If you’re satisfied with your phone, then shut the hell up. Who uses the front camera anyways besides tweens and people with brain damage?

      • Chris Gilmore

        Uh… maybe people who FaceTime, fuck-face.

      • Micke på taket
      • Bill

        You mad, Broseph Stalin?

      • Micke på taket

        Bill take your pill

  • Thomas Flores

    I actually think the iPhone SE is a great phone for its price. However, with that said, I do believe Apple should have included a barometer in the phone only for the simple fact they consistently push exercise and health. By simply removing a feature that some may have enjoyed, it created one less app one would have to open and manually put the info in. I get it, it doesn’t take that much out of someone’s day to open an app and log in such information, but still, it’s a feature that some have become a custom too.

  • Joey_Z

    The specs are not bad for the price. For $499, you have a fully unlocked phone that’s good for at least ios 11. Not so many other phones can do this at this price level… I bought the rose gold se for my mom on the first day to replace her iphone 5 since she never liked the 6 and 6 plus. Faster speed, better camera, yet she doesn’t have to re-learn everything, this is the perfect phone for her.

  • Sleetui

    3D Touch = Waste of Battery (IMO)

    • Chris

      You can disable it.

    • John

      If that’s what is wasting your battery then CLEARLY you are using your phone wrong.

      There are many other things that waste battery much quicker.

      • Sleetui

        That’s obvious. Of course there are other things to impact battery life. I’m saying that Apple adding this feature is simply contributing to wasteful battery.

      • John

        Apple adding apps wastes battery.
        Apple adding email wastes battery.
        Apple allowing you to change the brightness wastes battery.

        What evidence do you have that it “is simply contributing to wasteful battery”? How much battery is being wasted by this feature??

  • 9to5Slavery

    MAN WHAT A GREAT IN-DEPTH VIDEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • My thougts:

    – 7000 Aluminium: The 5s does not have the scraching problems of the 5 so the SE would be OK

    – Water resistance would be nice but i do not had problems with it sine i have the 3g…

    – I never had issues with viewing angles on my 5s, so the SE would be OK too.

    – Second gen Touch ID is so fast, you could not even see the Lockscreen to view your notificatios, so in my perpective it’s Ok to have the old one.

    – 3D Touch is nothing more than a gimmik to me, as you know they are tweaks that can do nearly the same on older divices

    – OIS is also missing on the 6 and 6s, so no problem here

    – 5Mpx Facetime Cam, yeah would be nice but eve Facetime doeas not have this resolution and I’m not the Selfie-Guy

    – I really don’t like the Taptic Engine of the 6s, i often issed Calls since i have the 6s, i never missed calls before, it’s just not strong enouth

    – Barometer? I did not think of it since the early days of the iPhone 6. I used it maybe 5 times then forgot about it

    The SE has everything useful and needful, nothing more or less, it has a good value IMHO.

    • Guilherme 

      I agree with you in every way!