What’s next for VR? Affordability and trade-offs, says Intel

When it comes to VR, you might say that Intel maintains a behind-the-scenes approach compared to Nvidia and AMD’s chest beating. 

However, high-end processing power is just as important as graphics for the demanding requirements of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive on PC.For that reason, Intel is far from an underdog in the VR space, although the company is still well aware of the dangers of VR’s starkly divided audience. 

On the high-end, a VR headset will set you back upwards of $600 (about £489, AU$792). That’s without factoring in the $1,000+ PC required to use it. Meanwhile, low-end VR is littered with mobile smartphone solutions, offering bite-sized games and apps to those curious about the technology, but not nearly curious enough to drop a more substantial chunk of cash. 

Save for perhaps Sony’s PlayStation VR, there is hardly anything occupying the middle ground. 

At the 2017 Game Developers Conference (GDC) this week, we spoke with Kim Pallister, director of the Intel VR Center of Excellence, about the virtual reality improvements the industry needs to see next. Amongst our conversations, Pallister stressed that VR is lacking when it comes to support for mid-range devices such as lightweight Intel Kaby Lake-powered notebooks. 

“We really think that for [VR] to hit the mainstream – for it to get to a critical mass where developers can make money – there needs to be good/better/best solutions,” he said. “There needs to be a range of price and things that play in the mainstream space.”

As such, Intel has been working with its partners to make VR devices more accessible and cheaper without stripping it of high quality components. A major part of this puzzle was a collaboration with Microsoft, which was revealed back in October of last year to be a lineup of Windows 10-compatible VR HMDs

These come from a variety of different manufacturers including Acer, Dell and HP featuring various styles and designs, but with one thing in common: low PC spec requirements.

“As much as everyone loves the high-end enthusiast stuff, that alone is not enough to sustain a sizable market with a wide variety of content,” Pallister asserted. “We’ve been focused on the hard problem of getting a mainstream-type solution to market and Microsoft is one of the primary partners we’ve been working with there.”

To migrate VR over to more conservative PCs, however, there are sacrifices to clearly be made, sacrifices Intel is well aware of. The bigger challenge is determining where users won’t mind the compromise. From Pallister’s perspective, a lot of the pixels are already being wasted in VR, paving the way for opportunities aplenty to make virtual reality less reliant on high-end discrete GPUs.

“There are a lot of problems in the VR space where people just said, ‘Just throw more GPU at it, you’ve got a high-end gamer GPU in there, you’ve got a $400 GPU, just solve this problem with more GPU,’” Pallister told us.

He says that developers have a tendency to render everything at the highest detail, even in situations where it isn’t needed. Because VR is 360 degrees of visual stimulation, there’s a lot being depicted in-game while the player only sees a narrow cone. 

As Pallister puts it, you have “all of these other pixels that are way too much detail for what you can’t see out there, you just throw all that away.”

For mobile VR, high-end PC VR and everything in between, the trick is to “not waste time putting detail where you don’t need it.”

“I think that’s something you’ll see the whole industry focus on over the next couple years,”  which will be a piece of how you get down to more affordable price points, VR that works with thin and light notebooks [and] that doesn’t require a big, beefy desktop.”

Pallister believes there’s an audience for VR at the mid-range, even if it’s not gaining the traction he contends it deserves. 

“Part of the benefit of an open platform like PC is the market will find ways to fill that spectrum in,” he said. “There are people who like VR that don’t think the phone is good enough that can’t afford a Vive, so let’s aim for a solution there.”

Luckily, according to Pallister, we’re already on the right path to seeing VR work on a wider range of devices, though it’s a far cry from where we could be. As he reminded us, Oculus took its system requirements down a peg last year. Letting users with as low as an Intel Core i5-4590 yields benefits for everyone with a virtual reality HMD. 

“You saw this even with Oculus when they introduced asynchronous space warp and their scalability features last year,” he said. With one software feature, they were able to drop their graphics performance requirements by 40%.”

“Is there a trade-off in quality, sure, but that’s okay, that’s the way PC gaming works is that people can come in at different points and then decide if they want to dial things up or down.”

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AMD's AM4 Ryzen Chipsets

Ryzen is here, and with it comes a new generation of motherboard chipsets from AMD. We covered the X370 in some detail in our Ryzen review and touched lightly on the others before, but we’ll compare their features more closely in this article.

Common Features

Before we discuss what makes each chipset different from each other, we should outline what they have in common. All of AMD’s AM4 chipsets support SATA-III and SATA Express ports. As SATA Express never really got off the ground, however, each SATA Express connection can be used to support two SATA-III ports instead.

All AM4 chipsets also have two PCI-E 3.0 lanes dedicated to NVMe storage devices. The connection canbe extended to an x4 NVMe connection at the cost of two SATA-III ports, or the vendor can leave remove NVMe support and reuse the PCI-E 3.0 lanes for something else.

AMD’s AM4 chipsets also do not support RAID 5. This feature is crucial for users who need to store lots of data securely, and its absence could hamper AMD’s AM4 sales to small businesses.

All AM4 chipsets connect to the CPU with a PCI-E 3.0 x4 connection, which is essentially equivalent to Intel’s DMI 3.0 connection.

The X370 Flagship

AMD currently has five AM4 chipsets in the works. The X370 chipset is at the top of the stack, and it features more connectivity support than its counterparts. We can roughly compare it to Intel’s Z270 chipset because it supports overclocking, and it can also split the CPU’s PCI-E lanes between two GPU slots.

Although the alignment is technically inferior to Intel’s Z270 chipset, which can split the CPU’s PCI-E lanes into an x4/x4/x4/x4 configuration, it will likely not have an impact on most users. Multi-GPU configurations containing more than two graphics cards are uncommon. This point is driven home by the fact that Nvidia ended support for SLI beyond a two-GPU configuration with its 1000-Series graphics cards.

AMD Desktop AM4 Chipsets

Category

Enthusiast

Mainstream

Essential

Chipset

X370

X300

B350

A320

A300

Form Factor

Any

SFF

Any

Any

SFF

CPU PCI-E 3.0 Config Support

1×16 or 2×8

1×16 or 2×8

1×16

1×16

1×16

Memory support (Channels/DIMMs Per Channel)

DDR4 2667MHz (2/2)

DDR4 2667MHz (2/2)

DDR4 2667MHz (2/2)

DDR4 2667MHz (2/2)

DDR4 2667MHz (2/2)

CPU Overclocking Support

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

RAID Support 0/1/10

Yes

0/1 Only

Yes

Yes

0/1 Only

Chipset Maximum PCI-E Lanes

8 PCI-E 2.0 Lanes

4 PCI-E 3.0 Lanes

6 PCI-E 2.0 Lanes

4 PCI-E 2.0 Lanes

4 PCI-E 3.0 Lanes

NVMe Support

x2

x2

x2

x2

x2

USB Support (2.0/3.0/3.1 Gen2)

6/6/2

0/4/0

6/2/2

6/2/1

0/4/0

SATA-III (6Gbps) Ports

6

2

4

4

2

Sata Express

2

1

2

2

1

The Mainstream And Essential Products

Although there are five AM4 chipsets, AMD primarily relies on X370, B350, and A320 to address the consumer desktop market.

The B350 solution has a unique position; like its main competitor, Intel’s H270 PCH, B350 does not officially support SLI nor Crossfire. Unlike H270, however, B350 allows you to overclock unlocked CPUs. Depending on how AMD’s board partners price B350 motherboards, this could lead to a strong advantage in the budget overclocking market.

AMD’s A320 SKU, however, lacks overclocking support and it’s probably best to compare it to Intel’s B250 and H110 PCHs.

In addition to its reduced feature set, B350 also loses two SATA-III and two PCI-E 2.0 Gen 2 lanes compared to the X370 chipset. It also provides four fewer USB 3.0 ports. A320 drops an additional two PCI-E lanes and one USB 3.1 Gen 2 port.

The SFF Solutions

AMD designed the X300 and A300 AM4 chipsets for compact, minimalist systems. Both feature limited connectivity options, but this is somewhat mitigated by the Ryzen CPU’s built-in SATA and NVMe controllers. Although Ryzen CPUs have evolved to the point of essentially being SoCs, they have not quite reached the point that you can use them without an accompanying chipset. As the SFF chipsets have a relatively small footprint, however, OEMs can use them to build fairly compact systems.

The X300 chipset, which AMD designed as as an enthusiast SFF solution, can overclock unlocked CPUs and split the CPU’s PCI-E lanes between multiple CPUs. The A300, however, lacks these abilities.

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Inno3D Is Cooking Up Two 1080 Ti With iChill Coolers

Inno3D announced that in addition to the Founders Edition 1080 Ti, which launches next week, the company plans to launch two variants with the company’s iChill three- and four-fan coolers.

On February 28, Nvidia founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage at GDC to reveal the long-rumored GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. The new card boasts a Pascal GP102 GPU with 3,584 Cuda cores that boost up to 1,600Mhz. It also comes equipped with 11GB of 11 Gbps GDDR5X memory.

On paper, these specs are comparable to the mighty Titan X Pascal, and Nvidia claimed the 1080 Ti outperforms the Titan X. What’s more, board partners were not permitted to change any part of the Titan X, whereas they are free to customize and improve the 1080 Ti. If the Founders Edition 1080 Ti is faster than a Titan X, custom cards with advanced cooling solutions should prove even faster still.

Inno3D is the first graphics card manufacturer to announce a custom GeForce 1080 Ti card–and it has two in the pipeline. Inno3D revealed the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti iChiLL X3 and GeForce GTX 1080 Ti iChiLL X4 graphics cards, which include triple- and quad-fan cooling systems, respectively.

We don’t know much about the two cards yet. We know that both cards feature Inno3D’s iChill HerculeZ backplate and the company’s Air Boss fan shroud. The X3 features three large fans to cool a large heatsink; the X4 model adds an extra fan to the top of the card to draw air upwards when the card is vertical.

Inno3D didn’t reveal the base or boost clock speeds, and it didn’t say anything about the power draw.  But we can infer from the Inno3D GeForce GTX 1080 iChill x3 and x4 models that the company may have tweaked the power delivery system, and both cards undoubtedly come overclocked from the factory.

Inno3D hasn’t yet announced the price or availability date for the Inno3D GeForce GTX 1080 Ti iChill x3 and x4 graphics cards. Nvidia’s Founders Edition cards ship next week. We imagine Inno3D’s custom cards aren’t far behind.

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G.Skill Embraces AMD Ryzen With Flare X And Fortis Series DDR4

Another manufacturer has latched itself on to the AMD Ryzen hype train. This time it’s G.Skill with two new DDR4 product lines, the Flare X series for general consumers and the Fortis series for budget gamers, that the company “designed and tested specifically for” AMD’s latest processor platform.

The new products will be available in kits ranging from 2 x 8GB up to 4 x 16GB with clock speeds ranging from 2,133MHz to 3,466MHz. The Flare X series covers the entire spectrum, while the Fortis series is restricted to 2,133MHz and 2,400MHz. (More on the available configurations below.)

The Flare X series runs on 1.2V (2,133MHz and 2,400MHz) or 1.35V (3,200MHz and 3,466MHz) depending on frequency. Everything in the Fortis series run on 1.2V due to the limited frequencies. G.Skill said the AMD-Tuned DDR4-3466MHz CL16 16GB ( 2x 8GB) is “the fastest G.SKILL memory kit that’s been designed for AMD thus far.” The company tested the kit with the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 processor and the Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero motherboard:

Other configurations boasted memory speeds of 15-15-15-35 for the 2,133MHz; 15-15-15-39 or 16-16-16-39 for the 2,400MHz; 14-14-14-34 for the 3,200MHz; and 16-16-16-36 for the 3,466MHz. (All of these figures were provided by the company and have not been independently confirmed.) G.Skill said the Flare X series and Fortis series would be available in March, but did not provide an exact release date or price for the various configurations.

Series Frequency Timing Voltage Configuration
Flare X / Fortis 2,133MHz 15-15-15-35 1.2V 2 x 8GB
4 x 8GB
2 x 16GB
4 x 16GB
Flare X / Fortis 2,400MHz 15-15-15-39 1.2V 2 x 8GB
4 x 8GB
2 x 16GB
4 x 16GB
Flare X / Fortis 2,400MHz 16-16-16-39 1.2V 2 x 8GB
4 x 8GB
2 x 16GB
4 x 16GB
Flare X 3,200MHz 14-14-14-34 1.35V 2 x 8GB
4 x 8GB
4 x 16GB
Flare X 3,466MHz 16-16-16-36 1.35V 2 x 8GB
4 x 8GB

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Toshiba 1.6TB SSD

Solid state drives (SSDs) with high capacities are become ever more prevalent these days, and Toshiba has continued this trend with its THNSN1Q60CSE 1600GB hard drive – which for the sake of brevity and sanity, we’ll refer to as the Toshiba 1.6TB SSD.

Large capacity SSDs such as the Toshiba 1.6TB SSD have meant that in recent years we’ve not had to sacrifice capacity for the speeds SSDs provide – we can now have the best of both worlds. 

Unfortunately, SSD prices are still much higher than traditional hard drives, and the Toshiba 1.6TB SSD costs £883 at its cheapest (around $1100, AU$1400), though we’ve seen it selling for over £1000 in some places ($1200, AU$1600). 

For comparison, a traditional Western Digital Red 2TB drive can be had for around £70 ($90, AU$110). Of course the performance of the Toshiba 1.6TB SSD is going to be far faster than that of a traditional hard drive with comparable storage space, which accounts for some of the difference in price.

At such a high price, the Toshiba 1.6TB SSD is firmly in the realm of enterprise customers, rather than regular users looking to upgrade their laptop. Because its aimed at enterprise and professional users, it comes with a number of features designed for those use cases, which further justify the high price.

Specifications and features

The Toshiba 1.6TB THNSN1Q60CSE SSD is SATA 3 6Gbs compatible, capable of speeds of up to 500MB/s read, 480MB/s write. These are speeds provided by Toshiba – its real-world speeds may be different – as we’ll find out in a bit. Still, these projected speeds show why you’d want to consider the Toshiba 1.6TB THNSN1Q60CSE SSD despite its price – this is a very fast SSD, able to achieve higher transfer rates than those of a traditional hard drive.

It has a power consumption of 4.5W when reading and writing. This means it could actually save money in the long run when used in always-on situations, as its energy consumption is quite low. The low power draw also means that it will emit less heat, so your NAS/PC/data centre or wherever you install it won’t need to kick its fans into overdrive when in use.

The Toshiba 1.6TB THNSN1Q60CSE SSD has a MTBF (mean time between failures) of 2 million hours – so you can be pretty confident that any data you store on this drive will be safe – making this a viable option for NAS devices used to back up important files.

Despite the high capacity of the drive, it’s housed in a standard 2.5-inch drive case, which means it can easily be installed in most devices – including laptops – which is a nice feature that gives you flexibility when installing the drive.

Performance

In our CrystalDiskMark benchmark tests, which sees how fast data and be written and read, the Toshiba 1.6TB THNSN1Q60CSE SSD actually surpassed Toshiba’s stated speeds- a welcome surprise!

It scored 541MB/s read speeds and 523.1MB/s write. There’s usually a discrepancy between read and write speeds (with read speeds being faster), however in this case the gap is pretty small, which makes the Toshiba 1.6TB THNSN1Q60CSE SSD a more consistent performer than its competitors.

So how does this stack up to its competitors? The Crucial MX300 SSD 1050GB is another large capacity SDD, though with a much lower price tag (£229, $249, around AU$390), and scores read speeds of 534.1MB/s and write speeds of 517.4MB/s  – so not quite as fast as the Toshiba 1.6TB THNSN1Q60CSE SSD. It will be your call if that speed (and capacity) difference is worth the extra cash.

The Integral SVR Pro 100 SRI 8TB SSD is another enterprise-grade hard drive with a huge capacity – this time 8TB, and scored 549MB/s sequential read, and 513.4MB/s write in our tests, around the same speeds as the Toshiba 1.6TB THNSN1Q60CSE SSD – though it’s almost three times the price of the (already quite expensive) Toshiba.

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Lenovo Y27G Curved Monitor

Lenovo’s Y27G monitor is a high-end offering into the world of gaming monitors. The Y27 series makes good on gamer’s desires with a 144hz refresh rate, frame rate smoothing tech and a big, angular design that cuts sharp lines. If you really want to go wild, Lenovo even offers a version with Razer’s Chroma lighting technology.

Pricing and availability

Available with either NVIDIA G-Sync or AMD FreeSync anti-screen tearing technology and plenty of inputs, the 27-inch Y27 is a worthy gaming monitor, but technical shortcomings keep it from reaching its full potential. 

If you run with AMD graphics, the FreeSync Y27f will set you back $399 (£349, about AU$520). The NVIDIA G-Sync enabled Y27G, which Lenovo sent us for review, carries an MSRP of $599 (£599, about AU$785), and the Chroma-enabled Y27G RE comes in at $649 (£649, AU$1,299).

Other than the anti-screen tearing tech and 144Hz refresh rate, the rest of the specs aren’t nearly as exciting. It’s rated for a 3,000:1 contrast ratio, response rate of 4ms, and max resolution is a standard 1,920 x 1,080 for Full HD gaming. For $599, those specs should be better. At the very least, a 1440p option would help justify the huge price tag.

Design

The Y27 follows the same design cues as the rest of Lenovo’s gaming line, such as the IdeaCentre Y900 desktop computer. Sharp angles with deep red highlights are the name of the design game here. The boomerang-shaped base shoots outward, keeping the monitor stable and allowing it to swivel.

Hash marks etched along the circumference of the stand, as well as the tilting hinge, give it the look of a precision instrument. Turning the Y27G is practically effortless and it just as easy to adjust the display’s height, as well. The monitor can move up and down with a feather touch, and once it’s in place, it stays in place. There’s no “slop” to it at all.

Tilt isn’t as easy to adjust, requiring a firm grip in the base. It’s not a difficult adjustment to make, but the monitor feels like it might tip over when angling the screen back. 

The mechanical pieces involved in the swivel, height, and tilt adjustments operate smoothly and easily, while maintaining a reassuring heft. All the adjustments are really generous, too. Swivel goes 30 degrees in either direction while you can tilt the monitor from -5 degrees to 30 degrees. Height adjustment offers around 4 inches to stretch.

Features

There aren’t any speakers in the Y27G, a weird omission for a monitor of this caliber and price point. Even though most monitor speakers sound like glorified iPhone speakers, it’s nice to at least have the option.

Lenovo almost makes up to the lack of built-in speakers with a pair of USB ports and headset jack on the left side. Further sweetening the deal is a fold-out hanger for storing your headset. When not in use, it folds up and disappears from view entirely. It’s a handy touch and one of the side USB ports is always-on, too. It’s the perfect place to hang a wireless headset and charge it in one convenient location. 

There are two more USB ports on the back of the Y27G, grouped in with the HDMI, DisplayPort, and power ports. The USB ports on the back aren’t easy to get to, even with the monitor turned completely to its side. All the ports face down, rather than out, which saves on room, but the Y27G is such a beast of a monitor anyway, it’s more annoying than it is space-saving.

The box includes a DisplayPort cable and an install disc for Lenovo Artery software, along with a power cable and USB cable. Artery lets you make adjustments to the monitor without needing to navigate Window’s Display and Appearance options. Settings like refresh rate and resolution can also be changed quickly and painlessly with the Artery software.

Menu diving

Not so painless are the on screen menus. The buttons are front-facing, and labeled, which is helpful, but the menu structure is labyrinthine in nature. We found ourselves accidentally pressing the wrong buttons and undoing display changes, or entering the wrong sub-menus, or going back when we meant to go forward.

Shortcuts assigned to the buttons, like accessing the Y27G gaming presets with one button should be helpful. Unfortunately, trying to use any of these presets drops you back into Lenovo’s messy menus. Instead of accessing the sub-menu, the button would work better if it cycled through the presets.

Not that the presets are great. The Gaming modes make pre-programmed adjustments to color, overdrive, brightness and contrast. We found the best picture came from turning the presets off. The FPS1 preset makes everything too blue and the FPS2 preset makes everything too red. The Racing preset turns overdrive to its highest setting, and that’s where the monitor runs into big problems.

There are three overdrive options in the menu: Off, Normal, and Extreme. Both Normal and Extreme introduce unacceptable levels of ghosting. Playing Dirt Rally, the fans on the sides of the road smeared the screen with a glowing ghost.

Everything else looked doubled, like watching a 3D movie without 3D glasses. It wasn’t just a fast game like Dirt Rally, either. Walking around in Hitman brought out the same awful ghosting. The best option is to turn the overdrive off completely.

G-Sync and 144Hz makes for some really smooth gaming. It’s easy to overlook the shortcomings of a monitor when games flow like waves on the sea. Getting the monitor adjusted in the on-screen display is cumbersome and prone to mistake, and the overdrive option should never be turned on for any reason. 

Final verdict

Ultimately, the Y27G succeeds in its industrial design, with smooth, easy adjustments to height, tilt, and swivel, USB ports and a smart headset hanger built into the screen. Where it falters is its lack of high resolution options, cumbersome menu design and low contrast and response time. 

It’s heartbreaking to see a monitor do so well in some categories yet fail to excite in others. As a result, the Lenovo Y27G balances out to a disappointingly average monitor.

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New iPhone SE | iPhone SE 2 UK release date rumours

New iPhone SE | iPhone SE 2 UK release date rumours

If you want a new 4in iPhone you want the iPhone SE. We explain all you need to know about the iPhone SE, and look to the future: When is the iPhone SE 2 coming out?

The 4in iPhone SE is rumoured to be updated in 2017, possibly adding 128GB of storage to the small smartphone.


By

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: March 2017 (TBC)

The iPhone SE 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.

Until now, it seemed the iPhone SE would follow in 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.

However, a new report from Mac Otakara says that a source claims there will be an update to the original phone. Whether it gets any upgrades beyond the rumoured increase to 128GB storage is unknown, but the report also states that we’ll see new iPads at an Apple launch in March.

Following the report from Mac Otakara, MacRumours claims that US retailer Target has been ordered to return a number of unsold iPhone SE models to Apple by 1 March 2017, only weeks before the rumoured announcement of the second-generation iPhone SE. The list of phones includes six 16- and 64GB SE models in Gold, Silver, Rose Gold and Space Grey, along with two Sprint models. 

Of course, there are other reasons as to why Target is returning the stock – bad sales, for example – but it seems, to both us and Macrumours, that the timing is a little too coincidental. While we assume a 128GB iPhone SE 2 will make an appearance at the rumoured March event, we’ve only got a few weeks left until we know for sure. 

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

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

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

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

iPhone SE

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

iPhone SE camera

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

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

Colours: Silver, Gold, Space Grey, Rose Gold

Display: 4in Retina (1136×640, 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: 123.8×58.6×7.6mm

Weight: 113g

iPhone SE

iPhone SE

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