How Secure Is the New iPhone SE?

On Monday, to its usual viral fanfare, Apple showed off its new iPhone SE, a pint-size take on the iPhone 6 and 6S. The announcement, however, couldn't drown out the bigger story — the ongoing judicial standoff between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Apple continues to deny the governmental agency’s request to help it gain access to an iPhone belonging to one of the deceased San Bernardino shooters. The company argues there's a fundamental line that is crossed when decryption technologies are developed for governmental purposes on the level that they are requesting. And with the iPhone SE, Apple is sticking to this line of defense with its awesomely strong decryption standards and even tightening up a few loose-ends for greater privacy.

The SE has all the security features of the old iPhones, plus a few more. It will come with the new iOS 9.3, which lets users take pictures, install and run apps, and activate Siri with nothing more than a vocalization of “Hey, Siri!” It’s equipped with a newly secured version of the Notes app that makes use of the phone’s Touch ID fingerprint detector to make sure you’re the only one who can access your text files on the Notes app. This is a small but notable addition to a company’s suite of security-ready features. The iPhone already can be configured to unlock with only your fingerprint or a long passcode of your choosing. And Find My iPhone represents a rather robust solution for tracking and even disabling your device if it should unfortunately end up out of your hands.

Not only is the iPhone SE more secure than its predecessor, it perhaps represents a small slap in the face to the FBI and our country’s highest court, as this case is still very much ongoing. Speaking specifically about the Touch ID-enabled Notes app from the product launch stage yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “[Privacy] is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility.” Dan Guido, head of New York City–based cybersecurity research firm Trail of Bits, told us, “The new secure Notes [feature] is probably gold for significant others with roaming hands and eyes. The iOS is fantastic.” But whatever your use for a smartphone is, know that your dirty little secrets (or just pictures of your precious pets and children) will generally be kept under tight, secure wraps when stored on an iPhone SE.