Talking about Apple’s new iPhone SE there are a lot of ways to make point. One is that it’s a more affordable option than the iPhone 11 (with surprisingly similar camera specs), which it is. Or that it’s the 2020 sequel to the original SE from 2016, which it also is. Or, at 4.7 inches, that it’s the smallest and cheapest iPhone you can currently buy or that it’s an iPhone 8 with the brains and power of an iPhone 11. In fact, the 2nd generation iPhone SE is all these things.
The new iPhone SE has the classic design that defined the iPhone for its first 10 years. The design, the body and the camera lenses are all the same as 2017’s iPhone 8. But Apple performed a clever brain transplant, replacing the nearly 3-year-old processor with the A13 Bionic processor used in the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. This goes well beyond a simple spec bump by majorly improving things like the cameras and battery life. The new processor not only runs faster, but it will likely future-proof the phone through years of iOS updates.
But the new iPhone comes with compromises, which Apple chose wisely. The SE has only a single rear camera, it doesn’t have Face ID and it lacks camera features like Night Mode, Slofies and Deep Fusion processing. The selfie camera is OK but not as amazing as the one found on the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max.
When you look at the complete picture, the iPhone SE represents the most value for your dollar of any phone Apple sells. It has an attractive price, fantastic battery life, great rear camera, A13 processor, water resistance and support for wireless charging. The SE is not only a wonderful iPhone, but one of the best budget phones you can currently buy (well, obviously when it arrives in Nepal).
iPhone SE (2020) specs compared to iPhone 8, iPhone SE (2016), iPhone 11
|iPhone SE (2020)||iPhone 8||iPhone SE (2016)||iPhone 11|
|Display size, resolution||4.7-inch Retina HD; 1,334×750 pixels||4.7-inch Retina HD; 1,334×750 pixels||4-inch; 1,136×640 pixels||6.1-inch LCD Liquid Retina; 1,792×828 pixels|
|Dimensions (Inches)||5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 in||5.45×2.65×0.29 in||4.87×2.31×0.3 in||5.94×2.98×0.33 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm||138.4×67.3×7.3 mm||123x58x7.6 mm||150.9×75.7×8.3 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||5.22 oz; 148g||5.22 oz; 148 g||3.99 oz; 113 g||6.84 oz; 194g|
|Mobile software||iOS 13||iOS 11 (can update to iOS 13)||iOS 9.3||iOS 13|
|Camera||12-megapixel||12-megapixel||12-megapixel||12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)|
|Processor||Apple A13 Bionic||Apple A11 Bionic||Apple A9||Apple A13 Bionic|
|Storage||64GB, 128GB, 256GB||64GB, 256GB||16GB, 64GB||64GB, 128GB, 256GB|
|RAM||Not disclosed||2GB||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Battery||Not disclosed||Not disclosed||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Fingerprint sensor||Home button||Home button||Home button||No|
|Special features||Water resistant (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging||Water resistant (IP67), wireless charging||Apple Pay; Haptic Touch||Water resistant (IP68); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging|
The iPhone SE’s iPhone 8 design
Physically, the SE is an iPhone 8. The front and back are made of glass, the chassis and sides are aluminum. The only physical difference between the iPhone SE and iPhone 8 is that the Apple logo is now centered on the back to match current-generation iPhones.
The new phone has Apple’s old-school forehead and chin bezel above and below the screen. This makes the SE look, well, old. This is the one of the few things that I’m not too thrilled about. It’s not ugly, it’s just dated, but that might appeal to some people.
Having used Face ID for the past couple years, it’s a strange and familiar feeling to set up and use Touch ID. It’s like going from an automatic transmission back to a stick shift. But in the right car, stick shift can be a blast.
For tiny phone lovers, the iPhone SE’s 4.7-inch LCD display isn’t as small as the original SE’s 4-inch screen. But it’s still smaller than most phones out right now and is enough to be portable and comfortable for most people.
A13 Bionic processor performance
The longevity of Apple’s iOS support for “older devices” is a quiet but significant appeal of owning an iPhone. The iPhone 8 and its A11 processor are now two-and-a-half years old and will likely stop receiving iOS software updates a couple years before the iPhone SE and its newer A13 Bionic processor.
In performance tests, the iPhone SE was consistently better than the iPhone 8 and (no surprise) the original iPhone SE. It scored similar results to what we got on the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max.
In real life that meant app launches were peppy, playing games like Sky: Children of Light and Doomsday Vault were a breeze. Editing photos was easy and could even use graphics-heavy AR apps.
iPhone SE’s battery life is longer than the iPhone 8
Apple’s website says that the iPhone SE’s battery lasts about the same as the iPhone 8, but my testing showed it lasted much longer. That’s hours longer than what the iPhone 8 and iPhone SE lasted in the same test when they were new. Anecdotally, it made it through a day and a half without a problem, and a couple times it went two days straight without a charge.
The iPhone SE has wireless charging, which is another feature not found on most budget phones. There is also support for fast-charging, which replenishes the battery to 50% in 30 minutes. But the iPhone SE doesn’t come with the necessary 18-watt charger and instead includes the slower 5-watt one. Again, this is likely to keep the cost of the device low.