Back to the Future: iPhone SE

Big phones may certainly be in, but Apple is making “compact” and “palm-friendly” the new cool. Several media analysts have duly reported that Apple has been working on a new 4-inch iPhone, its first device since the launch of the iPhone 5S in 2013. The company introduced the 4-inch iPhone SE on March 21, 2016, with the official launch following on March 31. Described as the “most powerful 4-inch iPhone ever,”, the iPhone SE features the design of the iPhone 5S with many of the internal components from the iPhone 6S, resulting in the latest and greatest mobile processor that is available in a smaller package than the previous model.

Basically, this time around, Apple did not come up with a new design for the smaller iPhone SE. Instead, they’ve recycled the old iPhone 5S model with multiple new components, which is basically reusing the same looks of a phone model three generations in a row. It’s definitely an odd move, witnessed for the first time in the technological industry.




First thing’s first –  the breakdown of the device. The new 4-inch iPhone is fundamentally a mixture of the iPhone 6 and 6S but in a body resembling an iPhone 5 (with the availability of the new rose gold color as well). The iPhone SE has the 4″ Retina display of the iPhone 5s, its first-generation Touch ID sensor, and an identical frame. However, in the internal aspect, it comes with the new Apple A9 chip with 2GB of RAM, the new 12MP main snapper, and a slightly bigger battery capacity.


These are the key advantages for the new iPhone:


  • 4″ 16M-color LED-backlit IPS LCD of 640 x 1136px resolution, 326ppi
  • Apple iOS 9
  • Dual-core 1.8 GHz Twister 64-bit CPU, PowerVR GT7600 GPU, 2GB of RAM, Apple A9 SoC
  • 12MP F/2.2 camera with True tone LED flash, phase detection auto focus, 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30fps, @60fps and @120fps video recording, 720p video recording @120fps and 240fps
  • 1.2MP F/2.4 front-facing camera, HDR mode, 720p@30fps video
  • Comes in 16 and 64 GB of built-in storage
  • First-gen Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • 4G LTE Cat.4 (150Mbps); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 4.2; Lightning port; GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS; NFC (Apple Pay only)
  • 1,624 mAh battery, Power saving mode


However, as usual, several disadvantages follow the phone as well:


  • No 3D Touch
  • No microSD slot
  • Lacks optical image stabilization
  • NFC functionality limited to Apple Pay
  • No wireless charging, an infrared port, or FM radio
  • No enhanced resistance to liquids or dust
  • No user-replaceable battery


Of course, these supposed limitations are a no-brainer to every Apple customers out in the world. Apple’s restrictions have been around for years, so they shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, although one can still capture Live Photos with the new model.




As for the meaning of the device’s name, Apple’s Phil Schiller told the mass that “SE” stands for “Special Edition”. Also, in the personal aspect, it is also an homage to the Macintosh SE.

In terms of the price, Apple is currently offering the iPhone SE in two compositions: 16GB of storage for USD $399 and 64GB of storage for $499. Also, it is planning to launched initially in countries including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the UK, US Virgin Islands and the US, with a plan to expand availability to additional countries starting in early April (hopefully Korea as well).

Critics have come up with two reasons to interpret this move, one being that Apple is trying to take the easy road. Basically, they have concluded that the company is striving toward the main goal of reusing an existing design to produce a lower, cost-effective iPhone without having to hurt margins. Another possible interpretation that they have come up with is that Apple is attempting to revive the much-anticipated iconic iPhone 5 design in an effort to appeal to a group of users who not only want a reasonably-priced alternative but would also prefer the smaller size. After all, about one-third of all Apple users are still using older 4-inch models, refusing to move on.

The verdict is out: iPhone SE has a nice nostalgic feeling of the past, back to the days of the smaller iPhones when they were dominating the smartphone market – its compact size and powerful hardware appreciated by many. Given the recycled design, it may hardly attract any new users to Apple’s platform, but will definitely cater to those who are stuck in the past to level and open up to the added features.


What do you think about the new iPhone design?



Snapchat: Broadening Its Horizons

Have you ever heard of the term “Insta-famous”? Or are you familiar with any of the currently active Youtube sensations? Sooner or later, the word “Snapchat-star” will enter a revolutionized list of vocabulary because that is indeed where the future is heading with this revolutionary app.

We live in a world where people spend more time looking at their smartphone screens rather than engaging in their formerly enjoyed pastime hobbies. We can’t go out for lunch without Instagramming a photo of our food, or using an endless number of #hashtags to Tweet about our #amazingbarbecue #yum #todiefor. If we don’t have our phone in our pocket, in our bag, or next to our bed even for a couple hours, we start to get anxious.  

Currently, over 22% of the global population possess a smartphone. In addition, other popular social media networks are getting more and more usage from mobile devices. As of February 2015, Facebook brings in 68% of its profit as a mobile device, Twitter at 86% and Pinterest an astounding amount of 92%. Thus, these mobile-based social media applications are becoming the future for how we connect with each other and share our experiences in an interactive fashion.  And now, there’s one more rising star of the smartphone app industry: Snapchat – the fastest growing mobile application since 2011.


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The infamous Snapchat logo. (Snapchat)

Snapchat is a clean and simple photo messaging application where users can take photos and videos and send them to their friends. On each photo/video, called “Snaps,” users can even draw pictures with their finger, type captions, and add fun emojis on the screen. Then, after the snap is created, users are able to set a time limit for how long the recipients are able to view them (from 1-10 seconds). The special kicker to Snapchat – the key feature that sets it apart from any other social media app – is that after the recipient views the snap, it is officially gone and deleted from Snapchat’s history forever (which basically equals to extreme privacy; a more entertaining way of text messaging).

Many reasons are behind why Snapchat is such a growing revolutionary boom of the technological world, such as its simplicity, customizable ability, photo/ video option, instant messaging, complete user engagement, and more. These features all lead to the creation of the term “Snapchat star,” which commercializes many of the lives of the app users, just like Instagram and Facebook. This is because users are now able to obtain random “followers” who will be able to view all of their “Snap Stories.”  Now, you are able to send your snaps to a bigger audience than just to your private group friends, similar to the concept as being able to have “followers” on your personal Facebook page. The whole thing is just like a tech-savvy blogging experience – yet all at access within only your fingertips.

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Live Stories is yet another feature the mass media is going crazy for. Basically, it is a curated stream of user submitted Snaps from various locations and events, all gathered together so that anyone in the world with the app can view them. Users who have their location services on at the same featured event location of the week will be given the opportunity to contribute Snaps to the Live Story. Therefore, the end result is a mass collection told from a wide community perspective, offering a exclusive behind the scenes point of view, told very much like a story or one giant video.



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The bottom line is this: this app is a great way to enhance your technological knowledge and add a fun new twist to your contemporary collection of mobile applications. As of today, international Snapchat users exist in over 135 countries worldwide. Also, Snapchat is the #1 mobile application on the iPhone app store in 13 countries, and #2 in 15 others. There is no doubt the app will continue to grow, just like the beginning stages of popular social networks such as Twitter, Tumblr, and many more. As each one started off within a small portion of the American demographic, Snapchat contains the absolute full potential of spreading to all corners of the globe.


– Ashley Kim (’18)