The iPhone SE went on sale on 31 March 2016, and since the iPhone 7's launch it has been the only 4in iPhone you can buy new direct from Apple. We explain all you need to know about the iPhone SE, and look to the future: When is the iPhone SE 2 coming out? Also see: iPhone SE review

iPhone SE UK release date: When is the new iPhone SE coming out?

iPhone SE UK release date: 31 March 2016

iPhone SE 2 UK release date: TBC

The iPhone SE is available to buy direct from Apple now. It costs £379 with 16GB of storage (up £20 since its launch), or £429 with 64GB of storage, and is available in Silver, Gold, Space Grey and Rose Gold. That's cheap for an iPhone, admittedly, but still pretty pricey when you consider that an iPhone SE costs only $160 to make.

Many people have speculated that Apple will announce the successor to the iPhone SE, the iPhone SE 2, approximately one year after its launch in March 2017, as is the case with its flagship iPhone updates. However, it would appear that the iPhone SE will follow the footsteps of the iPhone 5C as a potential one-off, with trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities stating that no new iPhone SE will arrive in 2017 (via Pocket-Lint).

According to Kuo, this is because the launch of a new iPhone SE will impact iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus sales, which are already down.

Assuming this information is correct, read on for more details of the only 4in iPhone you can buy brand-new from Apple today.

See also: iPad Air 3 release date, price and specs rumours.

Best places to buy iPhone SE in the UK: Where to buy iPhone SE

You can buy the iPhone SE direct from Apple now. It’s available in Silver, Gold, Space Grey and Rose Gold. The 16GB option is £379 while the larger 64GB option is £429. If you buy direct from Apple, the phone will come unlocked so you can use it on any UK network.

EE says all handsets bought from EE direct channels will support EE’s WiFi Calling service and 4G Calling (VoLTE), and you can order it here.

Vodafone says customers who opt for the iPhone SE on Vodafone’s ultrafast 4G network can also enjoy Vodafone’s Data Test Drive for the first two months of their contract, meaning they can get to grips with their new iPhone SE without any limitations on their UK data usage. Furthermore, Vodafone’s Wi-Fi Calling service will be available on the iPhone SE, making it possible to stay connected anywhere there is Wi-Fi – from a basement flat to the London Underground. Order here.

O2 is offering the iPhone SE on multiple contract plans here.

Three is offering the iPhone SE on several pay monthly plans, including a massive 30GB per month. View all the plans here. It also points out that those who buy the iPhone SE from them will benefit from its Feel At Home policy (no roaming charges in selected countries), 4G at no extra cost, and a six-month free Deezer subscription.

Carphone Warehouse allows you to order here, while you can do the same at Mobiles.co.uk here.

You can also buy official accessories for the iPhone SE including leather cases in black and midnight blue (£29 inc VAT), and Lightning Docks in colour-matched metallic finishes for £39 inc VAT, both from Apple’s retail stores and Apple.com/uk.

iPhone SE

iPhone SE new features and specification: What's new in the iPhone SE?

The iPhone SE looks very much like an iPhone 5s with the familia 4in Retina (326ppi) display, but with a new rose gold option, matt chamfered edges and a stainless steel Apple logo. On the inside, though, it's very much a smaller iPhone 6s and, according to Apple, it's the most powerful 4in phone ever.

With the same 64-bit Apple A9 processor and M9 motion co-processor as the iPhone 6s, the iPhone SE is twice as fast as the iPhone 5s on raw performance, and three times as fast for graphics.

iPhone SE

And that's not all that's fast. With the addition of 802.11ac Wi-Fi the iPhone SE can support download speeds up to 433Mbps. It also supports faster 150Mbps LTE with more bands, plus Wi-Fi calling. 

There have also been some improvements to battery life, with the iPhone SE beating the iPhone 5s' runtime for audio (50 hours vs 40 hours), video (13 hours vs 10 hours), Wi-Fi- and LTE browsing (13 hours vs 10 hours), and 3G talk time (14 hours vs 10 hours).

With a new NFC chip inside and the Touch ID fingerprint scanner the iPhone SE also supports Apple Pay for making mobile payments. Read more about how you can take advantage of this in our Apple Pay guide.

iPhone SE Apple Pay

In common with its bigger brother, the SE features a 12Mp iSight camera with Focus Pixels and a True Tone flash. There's a new image signal processor and support for 4K video recording and panoramic images up to 63Mp, plus Apple's Live Photo feature.

iPhone SE

The photo below will give you some idea of what the iPhone SE's camera is capable of.

iPhone SE camera

At the front the iPhone SE has a Facetime HD camera with a new Retina Flash, that lights up the screen three times brighter for taking the ultimate selfie.

The iPhone SE runs the new iOS 9.3 operating system.

iPhone SE performance benchmarks: How fast is the iPhone SE?

We should make it clear that we have not yet benchmarked the iPhone SE. However, it has the same hardware as the iPhone 6s, and according to Apple should perform the same (therefore we assume the iPhone SE must have 2GB of RAM like the 6s, although Apple has not confirmed this). Below are our benchmark results from our iPhone 6s review.

The iPhone 6s scored 2511 in single-core mode and 4404 in multi-core mode in Geekbench, putting it just behind the processing power of the Galaxy S6, which scored 4438 points. It beat the HTC One M9 by a whopping 626 points, scoring 3778 points, which would normally be an acceptable score.

However, it’s in the graphics department that the iPhone 6s really flexes its muscles. We ran two GFXBench tests – T-Rex and Manhattan, the same tests that our colleagues use when testing Android devices, and compared the results. Samsung’s Galaxy S6 managed a respectable 30fps in T-Rex and 14fps in Manhattan, while the iPhone 6s scored a whopping 59fps in T-Rex and 56fps in Manhattan.

iPhone SE

iPhone SE full specifications: What’s inside the iPhone SE?

Colours: Silver, Gold, Space Grey, Rose Gold

Display: 4in Retina (1136x640, 326ppi) LED-backlit widescreen Multi-Touch display, 800:1 contrast ratio, 500cd/m2 brightness, fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating

Processor & graphics: 64-bit Apple A9 processor with M9 motion co-processor

Storage: 16GB/64GB

Operating system: iOS 9.3

Primary camera: 12Mp iSight camera with five-element lens, sapphire crystal lens cover, f/2.2 aperture, Focus Pixels, True Tone flash, Live Photo, Panorama up to 63Mp, Auto HDR for photos, 4K video recording at 30fps, slow-mo and time-lapse recording

Selfie camera: 1.2Mp Facetime HD camera with f/2.4 aperture, Retina Flash, 720p video recording

Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (up to 433Mbps), 4G LTE (19 bands, up to 150Mbps), Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS and GLONASS, NFC (for Apple Pay)

Battery life: Up to 14 hours 3G talk time, 13 hours 4G/Wi-Fi internet, 13 hours video, 50 hours audio, 10 days standby

Sensors: TouchID fingerprint scanner, three-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor

Dimensions: 123.8x58.6x7.6mm

Weight: 113g

iPhone SE

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017

iPhone SE launch as it happened