iPhone SE 2022 Review: Cheap Isn’t Always Cheerful

The iPhone SE is a humorous outdated phone. With a design and show that it is advisable generously name “elderly”, however the most recent Apple processor and 5G connectivity, it is a very outdated phone in some respects however a supremely trendy software in others.

The identical inconsistencies have been there to be discovered within the (virtually similar) 2020 iPhone SE, however whilst Apple’s finances providing has remained static, the remainder of the marketplace has moved on.

So whilst the former SE was once a phone I may counsel – with some critical caveats – this 2022 version is a harder promote.

To be blunt, it serves one target audience and one target audience best: those that completely is not going to below any instances purchase an Android software, however can’t come up with the money for the iPhone 12 Mini or any of the opposite costlier Apple telephones.

Design and construct

  • 8-year-old design
  • Home Button – however large black bezel
  • Small – however no longer the smallest iPhone
  • Aluminium construct and IP67 ranking

Let me be blunt for a 2nd: the design of the iPhone SE dates all of the as far back as 2014. That’s when Apple launched the iPhone 6, which seems to be essentially the similar as this yr’s SE. That was once design was once tweaked relatively for 2017’s iPhone 8, however since then has been necessarily static thru each the 2020 SE and the 2022 style.

iPhone SE 2022 bezel

That method you continue to get the Home Button under the display screen, and no notch above it, nevertheless it similarly method you’ll need to reside with an enormous black bezel above and under mentioned display screen. There are not any different telephones in the marketplace that appear to be this, and I don’t imply that as a praise.

Still, there are upsides to the design. For one, it’s small – the SE is solely 5.45in tall, and weighs a trifling 144g. It’s compact, relaxed, and simple to carry and use with one hand. Still, it’s value noting that it isn’t Apple’s smallest phone – each the iPhone 12 Mini and 13 Mini are smaller and lighter, in spite of packing greater presentations, so the ones are value having a look at if measurement is your major fear.

One conceivable explanation why to desire the SE is that with its older aesthetic comes the rounded edges Apple used to desire, since changed on its different telephones via sq. edges that glance slick, however are arguably rather less relaxed to carry. Like the ones different iPhones despite the fact that, the SE remains to be missing a headphone jack.

iPhone SE 2022 rear

Although in a similar fashion priced Android telephones will have a tendency to seem much more trendy than the iPhone SE, it’s honest to mention that Apple does have the threshold in construct high quality. Available in black, white, or purple the brand new SE 2022 is constructed out of aluminium and glass – no plastic right here – and boasts an IP67 ranking for mud and water-resistance.

Display and audio

  • Tiny 4.7in show
  • Low answer, LCD, and 60Hz refresh charge
  • Stereo audio system

If the re-used design holds again the iPhone SE, that’s nowhere truer than relating to the show.

This is without doubt one of the worst presentations in any trendy smartphone: it’s tiny, at 4.7in, it makes use of older LCD tech, slightly than a awesome OLED panel, it’s low answer – no longer even Full HD, it’s dim and thus arduous to make use of in vivid daylight, and it caps at a 60Hz refresh charge.

You may spend part as a lot and nonetheless to find an Android phone that beats the SE on near to each a kind of specifications.

iPhone SE 2022 screen

Ultimately despite the fact that, it’s the display screen measurement that truly holds the SE again. Yes, it’s a part of what helps to keep the phone so small and that may attraction to a couple, however due to a contemporary design Apple’s 12 Mini and 13 Mini be offering a lot more display screen area with 5.4in panels, whilst staying smaller general.

The impact is sensible, in addition to aesthetic – the SE can slightly have compatibility trendy apps on its display screen. Some Instagram posts can’t show of their entirety, cookie pop-ups block much more of web sites than they’re designed to, and also you higher hope you don’t wish to kind the rest – the keyboard takes up part the display screen, often blocking off the textual content access fields you’re attempting to make use of.

The small display screen may be a knock in opposition to the typical argument that the SE is a smart phone for older customers, who is also reluctant to be informed a brand new swipe-based interface. After all, a small display screen method smaller textual content (and an much more cramped show for those who decide to extend textual content measurement) making this a questionable selection for any person with visible accessibility wishes.

iPhone SE 2022 speakers

At least audio fares higher. Apple has incorporated stereo audio system right here – a relative oddity at this worth – and so they’re loud and crisp, particularly making an allowance for the phone’s measurement. You most definitely received’t purchase the SE only for its audio system, however nonetheless – they’re excellent.

Specs and function

  • Apple’s newest A15 Bionic chip
  • Mostly easy efficiency
  • 5G connectivity

Now we’re attending to the good things. The major means that the iPhone SE sticks out from the mid-range festival is that it provides absolutely the quickest chip you’ll to find in any phone at the moment.

Apple has incorporated its A15 Bionic chip right here – the similar chipset you’ll to find around the iPhone 13 vary, and in keeping with hearsay, a chip it is going to even use once more for the iPhone 14.

That predictably method the iPhone SE is strong, and if truth be told coming near flagship degree – best held again via decrease ranges of RAM incorporated right here.

The phone flies on benchmarks, despite the fact that strangely I discovered it struggled on occasion in real-world use, with apps dropping by the wayside of reminiscence faster than I’d be expecting or even some stutter and lag – extra on that once I discuss tool under.

I do wonder if most of the people the SE appeals to will want this a lot energy – and extra importantly, whether or not that cash may well be higher spent on a contemporary design – however I will’t truly argue with the effects.

The greatest improve right here relative to the 2020 SE is that the A15 additionally brings with it beef up for 5G networking, which if not anything else is essential for future-proofing the phone – despite the fact that for those who’re in the United States notice that not like many different 5G telephones, this doesn’t beef up mmWave, so received’t hit the quickest 5G speeds.

Still, 5G beef up offers the SE a an important edge over the iPhone 11, which another way could be a tempting improve at best $70/£70/€90 extra.

iPhone SE 2022

In phrases of alternative networking, you’ll to find Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 (neither are absolutely the newest requirements, however are shut sufficient) together with NFC for Apple Pay.

Battery existence and charging

  • Decent battery existence
  • Average stressed out charging (charger no longer incorporated)
  • Wireless charging beef up

Small telephones imply small batteries, and simply two years in the past I indexed deficient battery existence as one in every of my leader criticisms of the 2020 iPhone SE.

To Apple’s credit score, so much turns out to have modified in the ones two years. The corporate formally lists a two-hour growth in battery existence for the SE, however in my enjoy the improve is extra really extensive. The ultimate style slightly lasted an afternoon, however this yr’s iteration will ultimate thru someday or even make it to the top of a 2nd for those who’re a mild consumer.

That’s essential as a result of charging is much less spectacular. Apple lists beef up for as much as 20W charging speeds over a stressed out Lightning connection, however remember the fact that the corporate now not ships a charger with its telephones.

iPhone SE 2022

In my trying out the usage of a third-party charger the iPhone SE was once ready to rate as much as 32% in quarter-hour, and 61% in part an hour. That’s quicker than Apple’s 50% promise to be honest, however nonetheless slower than lots of the festival, and can most definitely lend itself to charging the phone in a single day.

The secret weapon here’s beef up for wi-fi charging. That stays virtually solely extraordinary at this worth, and together with the A15, that is the iPhone’s major merit over its Android opponents. There’s no MagSafe beef up despite the fact that, so this nonetheless isn’t up there with Apple’s newest flagship charging choices.

Cameras and video

  • 12Mp rear digicam
  • 7Mp selfie digicam
  • No evening mode

There are excellent and unhealthy parts to the iPhone SE’s digicam setup, nevertheless it all boils right down to this: for those who’re pleased with a unmarried digicam lens that may take excellent photographs in sunlight hours, it is going to suffice. But if you need a couple of lenses to choose between, or dependable evening time pictures, it received’t ship.

Apple has incorporated just a unmarried rear digicam right here, a 12Mp, f/1.8 this is (with regards to {hardware}) similar to the 2020 style. There’s no ultrawide or telephoto choice, however in equity, maximum mid-range telephones be offering underwhelming secondary lenses, and I’ve lengthy been an suggest for reasonably priced telephones focussing their efforts on sturdy number one cameras as Apple has executed right here.

iPhone SE 2022 camera test

The digicam upgrades right here come courtesy of the A15 Bionic chip, with smartphone pictures now an increasing number of reliant on computational elements. The drawback is that Apple has made up our minds to artificially restrict the A15’s capability on this phone, maximum significantly in solely omitting an evening mode choice, even if there’s no obtrusive technical explanation why it couldn’t be supported right here.

Still, take the iPhone SE out within the sunlight hours and also you’re not going to be disillusioned. Photos are vivid, crisp, and detailed, with the extra muted and true-to-life color palette that iPhones are lately absolute best identified for – despite the fact that admittedly the restricted dynamic vary holds it again moderately.

It’s a excellent digicam, and in spite of the growing older {hardware}, it’s conveniently in step with effects from maximum different $400/£400 telephones in sunlight.

Even at evening time, the SE isn’t terrible. I’ve taken a few lowlight photographs that I’m most commonly pleased with, and it’s obviously helped via the inclusion of optical symbol stabilisation, which is unusual at this worth.

Still, it’s arduous to disclaim that the majority Android opponents have surpassed this degree, particularly relating to dynamic vary and managing mild resources, with the iPhone tending to blow out each mild in an evening time shot.

iPhone SE 2022 camera

On the entrance, there’s a unmarried selfie digicam – a 7Mp shooter at an aperture of f/2.2. Again, this isn’t a digicam to depend on at evening, however there’s no longer a lot to bitch about in selfies another way. There is also no evening mode, however there’s a portrait choice, and this delivers smartly apart from a couple of stray hairs tending to be blurred together with the background.

Like maximum iPhones this may be a succesful video software. It can file at as much as [email protected], with spectacular stabilisation and robust high quality. There is every other omission right here despite the fact that, with the Cinematic Mode that debuted at the iPhone 13 – permitting video with various intensity of box and blur results – no longer discovered in any respect right here.

Software and updates

  • Ships with iOS 15
  • Likely to obtain years of tool beef up
  • Some efficiency issues stutters

Software is every other power. The iPhone SE ships with iOS 15, the most recent model of Apple’s cellular working machine.

It’s prone to be supported for future years too – even the unique iPhone SE, which introduced again in 2016, can nonetheless replace to iOS 15. If this style sees an identical beef up, it may well be up to date no longer best to iOS 16 later this yr, however all over to iOS 21 six years from now.

No Android phone can rival that longevity, despite the fact that in equity they’re catching up – Google has a tendency to beef up its mid-range Pixel a-series telephones for a number of years, and Samsung has promised a minimum of 4 Android model updates for its iPhone SE competitor, the Galaxy A53.

iPhone SE 2022 iOS

In any case, the tool is also decisive for different causes – everyone knows that the majority phone customers stick with the machine they know. That’s very true right here, the place a part of the attraction for some would be the inclusion of the Home Button, with button-based navigation controls at a time when different iPhones are all about swiping.

The Home Button additionally brings with it Touch ID, the protection means used right here for the whole thing from opening your phone to the usage of Apple Pay. This is surely welcome and sorely ignored at the costlier iPhones – despite the fact that, after all, the trade-off is that there’s no Face ID choice right here in any respect.

Otherwise, iOS 15 is set what you’d be expecting, despite the fact that not anything right here has modified too considerably from older variations. Notifications nonetheless really feel clunky in comparison to Android, and the loss of an always-on show choice disappoints, however Apple’s strengths – simplicity and a powerful aesthetic – nonetheless shine thru.

iPhone SE 2022 Home Button

Strangely despite the fact that, I’ve had tool issues of my SE. Several apps have often stuttered, frozen, or crashed in my time with the phone, and one chronic malicious program sees the phone show orient itself the other way up when the phone unlocks – and keep that means for a excellent ten seconds earlier than correcting itself.

These aren’t problems I’ve discovered on my iPhone 12, additionally up to date to iOS 15, so I will’t lend a hand however suppose they’re optimisation issues tied to the SE in particular.

Unfortunately, if that’s the case the issue is prone to worsen, no longer higher, as app builders will best be extra prone going ahead to optimise apps for the full-screen, notched iPhones, slightly than the smaller percentage of customers sticking with the SE.

None of those mistakes are dealbreakers, however they do put the misinform the concept that the iPhone tool enjoy is inherently smoother, or loose from gripes and frustrations.

Price and availability

The iPhone SE is out now international, and you’ll seize it from Apple itself, or primary electronics shops together with Amazon.

In the United Kingdom it’s to be had on all of the primary networks, together with Vodafone, O2, Three, and EE.

In the United States it’s a an identical tale, to be had on T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T.

It’s to be had in 3 garage tiers:

  • 64GB: $429/£419/€529
  • 128GB: $479/£469/€579
  • 256GB: $579/£569/€699

At that worth the phone’s speedy festival is the Samsung Galaxy A53, which is in a similar fashion priced at £399/$449/€449. Like the SE this comprises long-term tool beef up, water-resistance, and 5G, however has the benefit of a a lot more trendy design and show – despite the fact that its processor isn’t fairly as tough.

If you’re in the United States then the $449 Pixel 5a may be a compelling rival, despite the fact that this style by no means went on sale international. Still, any person in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, or in different places is prone to have an enormous number of spectacular mid-range Android telephones to choose between, maximum of which can absolute best the iPhone SE on price – as long as you don’t thoughts Android.

iPhone SE 2022

Within Apple’s providing, the $499/£489/€619 iPhone 11 is the following tier up, however any person tempted via the SE is much more likely to be partial to the $599/£579/€719 iPhone 12 Mini. This is even smaller than the SE, however boasts a miles greater show and higher cameras, despite the fact that you’ll need to surrender the Home Button alongside the way in which. If your finances will stretch that a long way, the 12 Mini is a a lot better purchase.


The iPhone SE provides a number of energy, however I’m no longer positive why – it is the major house the ultimate SE did not want an improve.

Few will wish to use all that efficiency to pressure bleeding-edge cellular video games on the sort of dinky display screen, or use it for hard multi-tasking. Even the digicam can’t take complete merit, with Apple arbitrarily limiting get admission to to options like evening mode and cinematic mode to pressure call for for its costlier choices.

But, together with wi-fi charging, the A15 chip is truly all of the iPhone SE has going for it within the greater mid-range marketplace – Android opponents at this worth now be offering an identical tool beef up, stay alongside of it on water-proofing, and surpass the SE on show high quality, design, and digicam efficiency.

If you’re pleased with an Android, there are numerous choices to be had that will provide you with a lot better price for cash, with out depending on growing older portions to shave a couple of greenbacks off the base line.

So then the iPhone SE truly best is sensible for consumers who merely need to have an iPhone, however can’t come up with the money for the step as much as the 12 Mini – or received’t surrender on Touch ID simply but. If that’s you, then the iPhone SE will serve you smartly as long as you’ll abdomen the dinky show, unfashionable aesthetic and digicam boundaries – however I promise you, you don’t know what you’re lacking.


Apple iPhone SE (2022): Specs

  • 4.7in, 60Hz LCD IPS show (1334×750)
  • A15 Bionic
  • 64/128/256GB garage
  • 12Mp, f/1.8 rear digicam with OIS
  • 7Mp, f/2.2 selfie digicam
  • 4K video recording at as much as 60 fps
  • Touch ID
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • 5G
  • Wireless charging
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS
  • IP67
  • Dual SIM (nano and eSIM)
  • 138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3mm
  • 148g

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