final impressions

There are things I wanted, especially on the gadget front, that I still kind of want after all this time. The PowerBook 1400. The SonyEricsson K700i (or K790, or T650). The original New Beetle turbo diesel. The Motorola Skytel satellite pager watch. They were perfect enough in their conception and execution that they still have a hold on my imagination.

Unfortunately, I think the iPhone SE may have fallen into that space.

Two weeks on, using it as my daily driver, there are a couple of problems that didn’t use to be problems in the era before iOS 13. The first one, obviously, is the screen – while the device itself is still a perfect size, the display is not. A modern SE would probably have a 5” AMOLED screen in approximately the same real estate, but the 4” LCD is cramped at best running an OS version designed for phones that are all around 6” on the screen. The keyboard is fiddly at best, some text actually requires me to lift my glasses and squint, and the display brightness just isn’t where it needs to be. And that’s setting aside the extent to which I have become accustomed to reading RSS feeds, website articles and even Kindle books on a larger display.

The other is battery. And this is kind of upsetting, because when I first got the SE, it had the power-sipping iPhone 6s processor with a display 30% smaller, and I could get through an entire day in low-power mode and come home with 50% of the battery left. Now, even with corded headphones instead of Bluetooth, an hour of normal use from my front door to my desk takes me down to 80%. And I had come to take for granted just how easy having a wireless charger made things (even if constant wireless top-up might have caused some of the battery issues on the X). 

I still love the SE. But I’m not sure it’s really an everyday phone. Travel phone, shutdown phone, sure, absolutely. But as a daily driver, it may finally be reaching the end of the road. A faster processor and larger screen (even if it’s too much larger than I strictly require) are too important to pass up, especially with domestic travel coming that will require the best available camera. So next week, I’ll probably be getting the X back from my co-worker, migrating everything back to it, and then leaving the SE without a number or a SIM card – possibly not even registered and configured. A true emergency backup, forcing me to live with one phone and one number like most people do. And they do all right.

Sometimes you just have to move on. A lesson I could have stood to learn a lot earlier in life.

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