Apple iPhone SE (2022) Review

By Yvonne
2023-01-11
PROS

Most affordable new iPhone

Speedy performance

Supports T-Mobile and Verizon mid-band 5G

Longer battery life than the previous model

CONS

Outdated body design

No Night mode in camera

Lacks support for AT&T's 3.45GHz mid-band 5G

Shortest battery life of any current iPhone model

Operating System iOS 15
CPU Apple A15
Dimensions 5.45 by 2.65 by 0.29 inches
Screen Size 4.7 inches
Screen Resolution 1,334 by 750 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 12MP; 7MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 7 hours, 20 minutes

Apple's 2022 iPhone SE is one of the world's fastest smartphones, as well as the smallest and most affordable iPhone that enables access to the majority of the newest 5G network bands; pretty bad for a $429 device. You should expect more out of your phone, particularly in terms battery life and hardware design.

Consider the new iPhone SE if you own an earlier model and want a more future-proof phone, or if you don't want to pay much more on a high-end device. Nevertheless, the somewhat more expensive iPhone 13 ($799) remains the Editors' Choice model in Apple's current portfolio.

Just a Little Different

In April 2020, the previous iPhone SE was launched. This was an extremely strange time in history for both me and the rest of humanity. The epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States was my neighborhood in Queens. I had the impression that I was living in a disastrous world.

The iPhone SE, then priced at $399, was an ideal phone in that situation. It was absurd to spend $800 on a phone when your economy is in decline, even though you may need the money for basic necessities. I stated then, "A few months ago, our economy was capable of supporting cellphones priced at $1,200 from both Apple and Samsung; currently, our jobless rate exceeds 20%."

white

However, 2022 isn't 2020. While we're not back in the Before Times, inflation is still a problem as well as lingering coronavirus variants. However, it's not a crisis. However, the new iPhone SE is pretty much unchanged from two years ago.

The 2022 iPhone SE, which measures 2.65 by 5.45 and 0.29 inches, is identical to the 2020 model. It fits in the same case. Although it is slightly heavier (5.22 oz compared to 5.09), I did not notice any difference when handling it.

It also uses an iPhone 8 design, which has become a little outdated. I appreciate that it includes a Touch ID button on the home screen. However, the phone's bezels look dated compared to sleeker devices such as the iPhone 13 Mini for $699, and other mid-range Android smartphones.

the SE is pocketable

The new iPhone SE uses the exact same screen, a 4.7 inch, 1,334 by-750-pixel LCD, with 625 nits maximum brightness. The camera hardware is same, consisting of a 12MP f/1.8 rear camera and a 7MP f/2.2 front camera. The new model, which is identical to the 2020 SE in IP67 water resistance and lacks a headset jack, also has the same camera hardware.

You can choose from Midnight (a type of blue-black), Starlight, or red for the 2022 iPhone SE. It can be outfitted with 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storages ($429). You should consider the minimum 128GB model if you intend to shoot photos or videos.

Considering all these hardware similarities, how is the 2022 iPhone SE possible? It was a demand from carriers, I believe.

The Carriers Needed a 5G iPhone SE...Do You?

The US, along with much of Europe and the rest of the world have spent many billions on 5G radiowaves in recent years. They want us to use those lanes of their wireless highways. Verizon is one provider that has experienced difficulties with 4G congestion. It could fix the problem by switching customers to 5G networks bands. You can now move into the new iPhone SE and get out of 4G gridlock by using your HOV lane.

This is how it relates to the iPhone SE line-up. Apple's 2016 iPhone SE was sold for just four years. However, the iPhone 2020 SE has only been available for two years. The latest addition to the iPhone 2020 SE lineup seems to have been released in middle of a cycle. I can imagine that carriers begged Apple for the lowest iPhone 5G compatible model. Apple finally agreed to the right price for 5G chipsets.

Apple wouldn't tell us whose modem the 2022 iPhone SE has, but the design of its Field Test Mode suggests that it's from Qualcomm; I guess that it's the same Qualcomm X60 chip as the iPhone 13 series. The 2022 iPhone SE comes in five international versions. However, they are more alike than previous models. Ensure you purchase the appropriate model for your country. 

The iPhone SE keeps the home button alive

In terms of basic calling and texting, the 2022 iPhone SE is similar to the 2020 model. The iPhone SE can make calls over 4G networks, and the call quality is comparable to that of other iPhones. It won't be affected by the upcoming 3G network shutdowns. This is a perfect transition for hearing aid users into the post-3G era. iPhones are more compatible with hearing aids than Android smartphones.

Mid-band 5G is important for data. This can be a significant issue if your carrier delivers service in the mid-band. In this case, the 2022 iPhone SE provides significant performance enhancements over 4G iPhones. Refer to our post on whether you should get a 5G iPhone for additional details.

This phone is significantly faster than a 4G-only model if you are in mid-band coverage with Verizon or T-Mobile. Although 5G won't be available on AT&T's network right now, this phone can still offer some advantages. AT&T's C band is supported by the iPhone SE, however, it does not support its 3.45GHz spectrum. This spectrum will be a critical part of AT&T’s mid-band 5G rollout. Consequently, AT&T's network speed improvements here likely be inconsistent; if this is essential to you, consider waiting for the iPhone 14 lineup.

Despite this, the iPhone SE was the least performant of all the 5G iPhones. This phone does not support millimeter wave, which is a very fast, short-range, super-fast system used by Verizon. This shouldn't be a problem; although millimeter wave is available in New York City, it is very rare elsewhere.

It also reduces network performance due to the iPhone SE's 2x2 MIMO configuration (two data streams and two antennas). Modern phones have a 4x4 MIMO configuration with four antennas. The new iPhone SE was compared to the iPhone 13 Mini and Samsung Galaxy S22, both of which feature 4x4 MIMO setups. To test the devices, I connected them to Verizon's network. Then I walked in a section of Brooklyn with a mixture of millimeter wave and C-band coverage.

The signal strength and speed of the iPhone 13 mini, or Galaxy S22 depended on my position. It is important to note that even though the iPhone 13 mini reported higher signal strength, the SE was nearly always slower. This distinction was most evident in my two tests conducted in situations with slower network speeds, the first of which I conducted outdoors on a bridge and the second indoors in a hotel. The performance of the Galaxy S22 and iPhone 13 mini was comparable in both cases. It performed much better than that of the iPhone SE.

The iPhone 13 mini is superior to the iPhone SE in terms of data transfer speed. The iPhone SE works fine if your area has good coverage and you don't care about how slow the connection. An important point about signal strength is that the difference between iPhone SE and iPhone 13 mini's speed will not be reflected in how many bars they have. Therefore, an iPhone SE with more bars might experience slower performance than one with less bars.

hardware-intensive games

Just as Poweful as an iPhone 13 Pro

Apple OS allows you to turn the 5G off or on manually. This is a feature you won't find with many 4G Android phones, nor with certain 5G Android smartphones. If you'd prefer, the 5G can be saved for later use in buildouts.

For a significant performance boost, the new iPhone SE switches from Apple's existing A13 processor to A15. To run the display and camera system, the A15 processor is a bit too powerful. However, it can drive the iPhone 13 Pro Max's higher resolution screen and triple cameras with ease. It achieves 60fps in this benchmark, which is GFXBench's most difficult Aztec Ruins benchmark. This also smashed Geekbench.

It is clear that the SE 2022 runs very quickly, regardless of what your attempts to do. Below is the Basemark Web score. This phone can render web pages as fast as you have internet access. A15 guarantees compatibility with iOS updates for at least five years.

As a result of its efficient A15 processor, the A15-powered SE has a much longer battery life than the older SE. The 2020 iPhone SE had 5 hours and 56 minutes video playback over Wi-Fi, while this model only got 7 hours 20 minutes. This is still an improvement on the iPhone 13 mini's (12 hours, 20 minutes) and iPhone SE (five hours and 57 minutes). Given the 5G network's power requirements, it should be able to display for around 5 to 6 hours. The iPhone SE's battery life is still better than the iPhone 5.

iPhone SE Cameras: You Get What You Pay For

Lightning port charging is limited to 18W. In five minutes I was able to charge the phone up to 7%, 34% within 20 minutes and 66% within 40 minutes. Wireless charging is also possible, however MagSafe cannot be used.

There's a single 12MP camera on the back

 
iPhone Battery Life
 
iPhone 13 Pro
iPhone 13
iPhone 13 mini
iPhone 12
iPhone 12 Mini
iPhone SE (2022).
iPhone SE (2020).
iPhone 11
iPhone XR
Video playback time
Video playback time 16 hours
Video playback time 15 hours
Video playback time 12.33 hours
Video playback time 11.66 hours
Video playback time 9.66 hours
Video playback time 7.33 hours
Video playback time 6 hours
Video playback time 5.66 hours
Video playback time 5 hours

iPhone SE (2022), iPhone SE (2020), iPhone 13 mini

The new iPhone SE has the 12MP main camera, and the 7MP front-facing cameras as in the previous model. Apple claims that the A15 processor allows for software enhancements, including HDR processing. The new iPhone 13 doesn't include the Night mode, which was available on the iPhone 12 or 13. I inquired about why and Apple didn't provide a satisfactory answer.

iPhone SE (2022), iPhone SE (2020), iPhone 13 mini

The differences between the iPhone SE and previous models, as well as the iPhone 13 miniature are easily seen. You can take photos in any light, even poor outdoor lighting. This is a common trait with good smartphones. Although it is difficult to distinguish these photos, the iPhone 13 mini has an extremely wide-angle camera which the two other smartphones don't have.

The subtle differences in photos I took at a bookstore are evident. A bit more sharpening is the "Historical Fiction” label on my iPhone 13 mini. However, the results of all three cameras are excellent.

iPhone SE (2022), iPhone SE (2020), iPhone 13 mini

Phone algorithms often find it difficult to recognize browner skin tones. My colleague Jeff was more visible in the 2022 iPhone SE than any of the models before it, and the iPhone 13 mini provides rich highlights.

In low light conditions, the distinction between the SE model and the other 13 variants is glaringly apparent. The Night mode offers 13 power that none of the SE models have access to. To capture quality images in Night mode, you must hold the phone stationary for several seconds. However, as you'll see, it is worth it.

The front cameras on all three smartphones are 7MP, with the exception of the iPhone 13 mini, which has a secondary Face ID camera, that can be used for both portrait and focus.

The front camera of the 2022 iPhone SE collects somewhat more light in low-light conditions than the 2020 model, but it cannot match with the Night mode of the iPhone 13 min. It's hard to overstate the difference Night mode makes in iPhone 13's performance. This is why I highly recommend the iPhone 13 and not the iPhone SE.

Should You Upgrade to the 2022 iPhone SE?

The iPhone SE is $429 less than the iPhone 11 (still on sale), the upcoming Samsung Galaxy A53 (4499) and other affordable smartphones from Motorola and OnePlus.

These Android phones, like the A53, have larger displays, more powerful batteries and, in general, multiple cameras. They are not iPhones. Many people desire iPhones, as they prefer iOS to Android.

The new SE will make your older 3G iPhone obsolete. This iPhone is the most economical option for a brand-new iPhone. The 5G support is also available if your iPhone experiences serious network congestion (with many service bars and slow speeds)