Apple, where is the night mode?
I would suggest a fantastic phone around $500 to just about anyone searching for the greatest midrange phone available today. It has an IP67 rating, a very good 12-megapixel camera, the same chipset as the company's considerably more expensive flagships, and a lengthy lifespan with continued software maintenance. It's not the iPhone SE, which I wish I could endorse as enthusiastically as the Pixel 6A, the current category winner. This phone is superior to the SE and is what it ought to have been. Here are some things Apple should have done differently and what Google did correctly.
The 6.1-inch screen on the Pixel 6A isn't flawless. In a world where faster refresh rates are becoming the norm, it's not very nice outside, and the screen is only running at 60 Hz. However, the fact remains that it is adequate. The 4.7-inch screen on the iPhone SE is simply too small for a phone in 2022, therefore it isn't also-60Hz. I say this because I adore little phones, so if I think it's too small, it actually is.
A midrange phone can't have everything, and both Apple and Google sacrificed important features in order to keep costs down. But it's not always possible to get by with a little screen.
Consider the SE's inclusion of wireless charging, which almost no other phone in the midrange class, including the 6A, does. However, I believe that most individuals can live without that. On the other hand, we look at our phone screens 10,000 times every day; a reasonable size screen is your phone, not just a convenience function.
Storage is another area where Apple cut corners. Starting at $429, the iPhone SE is a wonderful deal. However, you only receive 64GB of storage, which is insufficient for the number of apps, photos, and 4K videos we now take.
The base Pixel 6A variant is a touch more expensive at $449, but it comes with 128GB of storage. That's not a lot of money, particularly given that the phone is made to endure for four or five years, but it's the absolute minimum.
For comparison, the system files, apps, and my photo collection alone take up 43GB on the iPhone SE that I tried for a few weeks. In a year or two, or perhaps sooner depending on how much 4K video you film, reaching 64GB would be far too simple. Bottom line: 64GB isn't enough space, even at a wonderful price. By starting at a premium price with a liveable amount of storage, Google made the right decision.
The main 12-megapixel rear cameras on both the 6A and SE are extremely strong for the midrange class and feature OIS. But Apple's generally excellent camera falls short of the competition due to one regrettable choice it made: the SE was not equipped with night mode.
There is virtually no other plausible reason for this beyond the fact that it enables Apple to set its more expensive phones apart from this entry-level model.
To put it simply, that stinks. These days, even $300 smartphones come with a useful night mode and do so without a flagship-level CPU. The 6A utilizes an older camera module than the flagship model, and the Motion Mode feature isn't turned on, so it's not like it has all of the camera features of the Pixel 6. However, do you know what it does contain? evening style. The SE only requires the bare minimum in terms of camera functions; in modern times, that means night mode.
Android users have some great sub-$500 options between the Pixel 6A and the Samsung A53 5G. Most people can live without the features those versions don't have, such wireless charging and more powerful cameras.
It's unfortunate that Apple consumers lack a comparable choice. For the upcoming SE model, Apple could be able to take a page from Google's playbook for intermediate devices.