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Smaller Phones, Less Pain: the new iPhone SE

It’s here! The new SMALLER iPhone SE! A devoted Apple and iPhone user, this is what I’ve been waiting for, as I’ve been hanging onto my “old” 5s for nearly two years. A couple months ago I was forced to buy a new phone due to irreparable damage to mine (I stupidly dropped it a couple times). Instead of upgrading, like I would have wanted to do, I bought another 5s. Why? The 6s is just too big and is not at all RA-friendly towards my fragile hands and wrists.

At the Apple store the day I purchased my now-second 5s, I asked the sales person who was assisting me if she knew if Apple were ever going to go back to smaller phones. I explained my situation of having RA and how the larger smart phones cause me actual flare-ups and pain in my hands and wrists. I feared that I’d wind up stuck forever with a soon-to-be “ancient” phone. At that time, the sales assistant kind of half-whispered that there were some rumors of Apple going back to smaller phones sometime later in the year. “Oh, I hope you’re right!” I exclaimed, as I safely tucked away my new “old” phone and left the store.

I wrote about the problem of ever-expanding smart phone sizes in a previous article when I bought the 6s before a trip to Boston and New York in 2014: An Immobile Mobile. I excitedly bought the new, shiny, big-screened 6s the day before I left for my trip, so I didn’t have much time to try it out before I left Minneapolis. As a photographer, I especially loved the quality of the phone’s camera and the bigger screen.

Once I arrived in Boston, for a conference, I quickly noticed that my texting activity (as well as reaching across the screen to access apps) was starting to make my fingers and wrists hurt. Oh, no, I thought. Is it from this new phone? I hoped not as I was already loving my new toy. But as the days and texting and general phone use progressed, it became clear that my bigger iPhone was indeed causing me considerable pain. I’d have to get rid of it. How annoying! And stressful, especially while traveling.

Luckily I waited the few days until I got to New York to take care of this phone problem. I went to the Apple store in SoHo in Manhattan, dreading the thought of this exchange becoming a long, tiring, tedious nightmare. Happily, no, that was not the case! The sales assistant (who was actually a manager) who helped me was a godsend. He quickly, professionally, and kindly spent a long time with me to help exchange my phone for the smaller 5s. Whew! Problem fixed, hands fixed.

During the past year or so as I’ve watched smart phones growing bigger and bigger, I’ve worried about what that means for me as a future smart phone user and consumer who also lives with the pain and limitations of RA. I like having a smart phone; it makes life easier in many ways. I wouldn’t want to be stuck with some obsolete thing or go back to flip-phones (although they are cheaper). So the discovery and news of Apple’s latest iPhone on the market being “small,” has made me excited and ecstatic. Yes! I can get a new iPhone in the future that won’t hurt me or cause joint damage.

Of course not everybody in the world is going to be happy about the size decrease. People, especially Americans (I’d argue), love BIG THINGS. Big TVs, big cars, big houses, big phones. I naturally expect there will be some complaints and backlash about the more-compact iPhone SE. Wired magazine wrote a pretty decent review of the phone recently if you’re interested in reading it: Wired Review: Apple Phone SE.

What my review would include (even though I don’t have the phone yet) is: Thank you, Apple, for having the insight and foresight to realize that bigger is not always better! Know that there is a large demographic of smart phone users out there who physically can’t use your giant phones: people with arthritis and other conditions and disabilities. Keep that in mind, please. If it can’t fit in my pocket, I don’t want it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • JLBanker
    3 years ago

    Thanks for this! I read this the day I switched from an iPhone 6 to the iPhone SE (which was yesterday). I was wondering if I was the one one who had pain from having to stretch my thumb across the screen. What made it even worse for me is I am left handed and the iPhone is made for right handed people. I had to stretch my thumb much farther than I should have. The only downfall is my vision isn’t that great but I had to wear my glasses while using the 6 anyway as well. Anyway it is always fun to find that other people on the Internet had come up with the same conclusions.

  • Susanf
    3 years ago

    This is one of the few times I would have ever disagreed with Angela. She is a great writer and I love her articles. However this time I have to disagree because not all of us with rheumatoid disease have the same issues. I’ve had rheumatoid disease for over 25 years. I’ve been in the process of “bionic” replacements, foot reconstructions, spinal fusion, a just completed shoulder cuff repair & replacement, a total knee replacement 6/1, and finishing off the year with the other cuff repair and shoulder replacement right around September 1. So I’ve had lots of things to give up my life with rheumatoid disease. However, I didn’t expect as my joints were being replaced for my vision to fail. The iPhone 6 Plus is a godsend for people losing their sight. The larger screen gives me greater visibility, and it’s easier for me to use a stylus and tapped out on the keypad. My left hand, my worst hand particularly with nodules, Works beautifully with this phone and it does not cause me hand pain thank goodness. I have known of others with near blindness and find the 6+ a great adapter piece of equipment. So before you think of throwing your phone out with the bathwater, if visual issues are a problem for you, the 6+ might just be your savior.

  • Dee
    3 years ago

    I agree 100% with you! I actually get along better with the bigger phone, easier for me to hold and see the screen!!!

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