Robot’s Useless Reviews – The iPhone SE

Look, don’t phone judge me, ok? I am seldom more than a whisper away from hucking the thing in the hedge as I pedal along. The get-off-my-lawn brigade are going back to flip phones to reclaim their lives from alerts and doom-scrolling and the Wordle, and I’m right there, on the edge. Just give me a reason.

And anyway, I got the SE, because it’s not the size of a tennis court. You can’t land a helicopter on it. It fits in most of my pockets, and it was cheap(er). Skratch Labs don’t pay for itself, you know?

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Warning: The iPhone SE will let you put your thumb obliviously over the lens as you capture perfectly composed action shots of your friends on their bikes. It will allow the utter ruination of sunset snaps and hero footage of you jumping your bike literally inches off the ground. Inches!! How is it that a device that can tell me my exact location on the planet not tell me the exact location of my thumb?

Within ten minutes of departure on any ride, it is likely I have sweated over the lens anyway, so every picture I take has that ’80s, Linda-Evans-on-Dynasty frosted effect. If you don’t get that joke, you probably have an enormous phone and make cute videos of yourself for TikTok. You’re probably cute. I’m not. I’m SE. I’m short, squat, and vaguely practical.

No company has yet made a digital device I can’t scratch, smash, dent or deface, even when clad in an expensive case and with a screen guard installed, so I won’t judge the SE for not standing up to the beating I give it, much as I wouldn’t blame Goodyear for the sorry state of the tire swing in the gorilla enclosure at the zoo.

Warning: The iPhone SE will also go spinning out of your hand, bouncing off root and rock, ending up in the tall grass where you’ll spend 15 minutes looking for it while getting savaged by disease-carrying mosquitoes. They don’t tout that feature in the ads, and there’s no iLeash available as an accessory in the Apple store. Seems like a revenue-generating miss to me, and this company is worth a trillion dollars; they have not tripped over a lot of pennies on their way to picking up all those pounds, to murder the expression.

That’s $1,000,000,000,000 BTW, for those of you who like to see the zeroes.

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Another thing the iPhone SE doesn’t do is tell me to slow down. It never says, “Hey bro, you’re out of your league here.” It never whispers, “You ain’t got this.” Equally, it doesn’t say, “Nice job! You’re not as pathetic as you thought you were!” This digital indifference is aggravating, especially given the way it records and reports my data to anyone on Earth looking to make a buck from my vanity and/or insecurity. It’s not as though it lacks the information or context to give me a head’s up on imminent ruination.

Instead, it gleefully delivers texts from Russian bot farms designed to get me to divulge the digits that unlock the vault of my hard-won non-fortune. Whose side is this thing on?

That we call these things phones is weird too. Mine is mainly a weather station and that drawer my parents used to stuff all the family photos into, albeit better organized. The social media capabilities of the SE are maybe equal parts blessing and curse.

If you ride bikes, and you like to take photos when you do it, or you use navigation apps, or you need your loved ones to be able to find your body, the iPhone SE is fine. It costs more than some and less than others. It’s reasonably small by a modern standard in which everything else if far too big. It’s not nearly as idiot-proof as it oughta be, and I would know…for obvious reasons.

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  1. trabri says

    And with 128gig it holds a metric shit ton of music and Revolting episodes!

  2. spokejunky says

    Around 2015 I started looking for phones with less than a 5 inch screen. The major players aren’t doing those any longer, but have kind of settled into the 5.7 to 6+ inch screen sizes. I was essentially looking for something that fits into a pocket without it feeling like I have a cancerous growth on my leg when sitting down. I’ve tried the Googles, Samsungs, LGs, Sonys, and Apples. I looked at milspec phones since they are a little more rugged and can take a rollover or pop out of the jersey. I looked at ‘The Light Phone’ just to have something that really fits into a pocket for rides. I even, gasp, looked at the rebranded Palm phone that disappeared again. It doesn’t really matter what you end up with as long as you get used to the ecosystem and are happy with it. The former qualifier really makes or breaks your experience since you can’t mix between the two major players.

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