The fact that an iPhone is the winner of our award for Best Value might sound surprising, as Apple products have a reputation for being on the pricey side. But with the new iPhone SE, Apple has redefined what customers should expect from a $400 phone.
The new iPhone SE inherits the premium glass and aluminium chassis of the iPhone 8, helping it immediately stand out among its plastic rivals. It also uses the same 4.7-inch LCD display and a Touch ID home button, which proved to be invaluable as Face ID became harder to use in the era of face masks.
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Using the same A13 bionic chipset as the far more expensive iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone SE provides more power than even Android flagships that cost three times as much.
Software is a key part of why the Apple experience draws in so many people, and because of these impressive guts, you can enjoy all of it unhindered on the iPhone SE. And because of its newer chip, you arguably get a better deal with this than by buying an older flagship iPhone, since the SE will offer more power and will receive Apple's iOS updates for longer.
The SE continues to clobber the Android competition in photography too. You might only get a single camera front and back, but again Apple leverages its software power to great advantage. Portrait mode works really well, especially for a phone without auxiliary time-of-flight or LiDAR sensors to help it out, and it can still shoot 4K video like any other big smartphone released this year.
Apple has created a phone that will likely act as a benchmark for years to come, although we're keen to see how it stacks up against Google's upcoming Pixel 4a. It's going to be very difficult for even the best upcoming phones to answer the question, "can it do more than the iPhone SE for the money?" The iPhone SE isn't a perfect product, but it's the perfect iPhone for its price, and well worthy of the first-ever Tom's Guide Award for Best Value.