Six years later, first-gen iPhone SE runs the latest version of iOS – and it’s still good

By José Adorno

Every year, a new iPhone is released with better cameras and faster processor. At the same time, the older iPhone models are still there receiving iOS updates, which is great for people who don’t upgrade their phones every year.

But how decent are these old iPhones running the latest version of iOS? Well, I tested a first-generation iPhone SE with iOS 15, and it’s still surprisingly good.

I don’t have an iPhone 6s, but I do have a first-generation iPhone SE. For those who don’t remember, the first iPhone SE was introduced in early 2016 as a cheaper alternative to high-end iPhones.

It features the same design and four-inch display as the iPhone 5s, but with the same A9 chip and 12 Megapixel 4K camera as the iPhone 6s.

By comparison, the first iPhone SE was priced at $399 in the US, while the Galaxy S6 was launched at $599. So how is the first-generation iPhone SE six years later?

To my surprise, the first-generation iPhone SE is still quite usable even with iOS 15. When using it for basic tasks like surfing the web, listening to music, or opening social networking apps, it’s hard to notice apps that are unresponsive or running slowly.

Having access to the latest version of iOS on a six-year-old phone means that you can get at least some of the same features available on the latest iPhone 13. The iPhone SE has Focus Mode, redesigned notifications, rich Spotlight results, new Emojis, and all the latest privacy and security improvements that come with iOS 15.