iPhone SE vs. iPhone 6: How Apple's cheaper, more powerful phone shakes things up

in iPhone
Although they're still on sale, and potentially tempting, there's really no reason you should be buying an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus in early 2016 -- even if you're not interested in the iPhone SE.

The case for buying an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus is likely this: you want a less expensive iPhone, but the 4-inch screen on the SE is just too small. Indeed, while some people may prefer that size, there's a reason most smartphones are closer to 5 or 6 inches. A larger screen means better interface options, more and bigger text, not to mention superior experiences with games, images, and video.

In fact, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are still solid performers, and should hold up past the launch of next-generation iPhones coming this fall, and possibly 2017 models as well. But priced starting at $549 for the 4.7-inch model, it's $150 more than the new iPhone SE -- and with less capable specs inside.

If you're really interested in saving money on an iPhone -- but still want something fresh from Apple -- the iPhone SE is a much better value. Sure, it has a 4-inch screen and a weak front camera, but it crams most of the specifications of the iPhone 6s into a device that starts at $399. The model you likely need, with 64 gigabytes of storage, is still $499 -- $50 cheaper than a 16-gigabyte iPhone 6.

If screen space is critical, you should probably go with a 6s. You'll also be getting a faster device that Apple should support longer. As a bonus, you'll get things like a better camera and 3D Touch.

But the smartest decision is to wait, if you can. Apple is likely just five months away from shipping new iPhones, which should be faster still and improved in other ways we haven't confirmed yet.

In our view, the only condition under which you should consider an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus is if you can find it at a sharp discount, whether online or from friends and family. Otherwise, choose the iPhone SE or the iPhone 6s, or wait until September. The iPhone 6, at its current price and place in the lineup, is not the smart choice.

More coverage:

Apple's iPhone SE vs. iPhone 6s: Does price outweigh size?

Buy now or wait? Apple's new iPhone SE vs. the rumored 'iPhone 7'

Review: Apple's 4" iPhone SE is better than we deserve

In-depth review: Apple's iPhone 6s & 6s Plus with 3D Touch
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