For the past few years, Apple has made choosing which iPhone model to buy pretty easy.
Each fall, a brand-new model was released, and you could probably still buy the one from the prior year, or maybe even two years back.
Then Apple threw us a curve ball during the baseball playoffs and World Series: New phones that were bigger and a lot bigger, beginning with the “6″ and “6Plus.”
But one thing you could count on if you bought one of the latest phones: It wouldn’t be “obsolete” (or you wouldn’t be coveting a newer model) until next fall.
But using the baseball analogy, this month Apple came out with a “Minor League” model during major league baseball’s spring training season: The “SE,” which is smaller (and less expensive) than its “Big League” cousins, the 2015 “6s” and “6s Plus,” and the prior 2014 season’s “6″ and “6 Plus.”
So if you want to take an iPhone “on the road” with you, which model should you buy?
Daniel Howley, writing for Yahoo Tech, argues that the advent of the “SE” and the newest “6s” and “6s Plus” models means that purchasing those “old” 2014 “6″ or “6 Plus” phones isn’t a wise buy.
And David Pogue, formerly a tech writer for The New York Times, and now with Yahoo Tech, points out that the “SE” is almost exactly the same as the newest “6s” phones, just smaller and cheaper to buy, albeit missing a few features of the larger phones.
Here’s my advice if you are shopping for a new iPhone.
If you own an iPhone 5/5s, the cases (such as a Mophie supplemental battery case) and other accessories (like the Olloclip lenses) for your existing phone should fit the “SE.” But if you buy a “6,” “6 Plus,” “6s” or “6s Plus” you’ll have to pony up a fair piece of change to replace all of those gizmos.
Unless you are an NBA basketball player, do a “hands-in” test in an Apple Retail Store. Does the smaller “SE” fit better in your hand than the bigger phones? If so, buy that model.
Unless you’re into wearing super-baggy jeans, do a “pocket” test at the store. Slip a phone into a front (my choice) or rear pocket to see if it feels comfortable when you stand, sit, or move. (My wife’s “6 Plus” fits okay in that front pocket when I’m standing, but not when sitting, such as when driving.)
If you will always be carrying your phone around in a purse or day pack, you can skip the “pocket” test.
Do you watch a lot of video on your phone? Are you an “old timer” whose vision is not as sharp as it once was? If so, the bigger phone with its much bigger screen will be a better choice for you.
Are you going to shoot a lot of 4K video? Do you want to edit that video on your iPhone? If so, you probably want the 128 GB version of a “6s” or “6s Plus,” especially if you are traveling without a laptop computer onto which you could transfer those big video files, because the “SE” tops out at just 64 GB of storage.
Is the “3D Touch” function important to you? If so, don’t buy an “SE” because that model doesn’t have it.
Finally, how many pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are in your piggy bank? If buying a “6s” or “6s Plus” would break that bank, opt for the less expensive “SE.”
Brian X Chen of The New York Times has his own laundry-list of reasons why you should, or should not, opt for the iPhone “SE.”
(Tales Told From The Road editor, Dick Jordan, has owned an iPhone “3Gs,” “5,” and now a “6s.” His wife had a “4s” and now uses a “6 Plus.” So he’s seen and used almost every model of iPhone that Apple has turned out in recent years.)