iPhone SE evaluation (2022): A small throwback of a telephone

Since the iPhone 5c, Apple’s method to creating a extra inexpensive iPhone has been to stuff premium processors into instances belonging to older fashions. With the third technology of the iPhone SE, the corporate has caught to that technique. With its house button, high and backside bezels and rounded corners, the brand new iPhone SE is almost similar to the 2020 mannequin, not less than on the surface. Inside, this yr’s model packs an A15 Bionic chip and a 5G radio, promising a critical pace enhance. Apple can also be touting longer battery life and improved sturdiness on this yr’s mannequin, which can set you again a modest $429. That’s $30 greater than the final iPhone SE, however nonetheless cheaper than the $450 Pixel 5a. If you need a easy iPhone that runs like new, and also you don’t thoughts the dated design and single rear digital camera, the iPhone SE would possibly match the invoice.

Design

At a time when principally all smartphones have executed away with house buttons, this yr’s iPhone SE feels anachronistic. Its house button sits in a bezel under the display screen, whereas the highest bezel hides the machine’s entrance digital camera. In case you’re aware of the final iPhone SE, then you definitely’ll know what to anticipate: This yr’s mannequin is so related that I legit have bother telling them aside. The one method I do know which one I’m holding is that if I scrutinize the telephone’s rear casing below a fluorescent mild. The evaluation unit Apple despatched this yr is a darkish blue, whereas the 2020 iPhone SE in my possession is black. Oh, and, in response to the specs sheets, the brand new SE is a complete 4 grams lighter. Contemplating the sooner mannequin already seemed outdated, the newest iPhone feels very a lot caught up to now.

iPhone SE (2022)

Execs

  • Acquainted house button and TouchID
  • Speedy A15 Bionic chip for the worth
  • Digital camera takes surprisingly good images

Cons

  • Base mannequin’s 64GB of storage is measly
  • Only one rear digital camera
  • Small and lackluster display screen

Nonetheless, regardless of its stodgy design, I like the best way the SE feels. It’s similar to the Pixel 3: slim, barely curved and solidly constructed. The iPhone 13 mini is just a little smaller and thicker, with flatter edges and a notch on the high of its 5.4-inch display screen that homes its entrance digital camera. In case you hate notches however for some purpose don’t thoughts bezels, the iPhone SE’s retro look is for you.

Gallery: iPhone SE (2022) evaluation | 11 Images


Extra importantly, Apple says the iPhone SE is roofed in the identical hardy glass used on the iPhone 13. Whereas I’ve but to drop my evaluation unit, figuring out that this will likely be extra scratch resistant affords some peace of thoughts. I don’t use a case with the iPhone 13, and it’s nonetheless pristine, regardless of having been tossed into luggage with keys and different sharp objects. It does choose up fingerprints and smudges very simply, although. It’s additionally good that the iPhone SE is rated IP67 for mud and water resistance — one thing the Galaxy A52 5G and the Pixel 5a additionally supply.

Show and audio

Like many phones from 2017, this yr’s iPhone SE sports activities a 4.7-inch LCD display screen with 1,334 x 750 decision. Actually, these specs are downright tragic for 2022 requirements, by which OLEDs have turn out to be commonplace. Don’t even get me began on the refresh fee. The Galaxy A52 has a 6.5-inch Tremendous AMOLED operating at 120Hz, whereas the Pixel 5a’s OLED panel not less than refreshes at 90Hz.

I used 4 telephones – the iPhone SE, its predecessor, the iPhone 13 mini and the Pixel 5a – to look at a recap of the Apple occasion on YouTube concurrently on every machine at max brightness. The iPhone 13 mini was the brightest, adopted by the Pixel. The iPhone SEs had been indistinguishable from one another and had a reddish tint in comparison with the opposite two.

The iPhone SE (2022) held in a hand.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

It’s not going to wow you, however the iPhone SE’s show is serviceable. I watched the start of The Downside with Jon Stewart on the TV+ app, and although all the things seemed considerably muted in comparison with the OLEDs I’m used to, the present nonetheless seemed high-quality. You’ll positively wish to push the display screen to max brightness to look at movies outdoor within the solar, although.

Regardless of its small measurement, the iPhone SE’s audio system are surprisingly loud. I loved listening to the tap-dancing sequence in a video of a efficiency of Something Goes, in addition to Sutton Foster’s ample vocals.

Cameras

The iPhone SE’s largest drawback within the mid-range area is its cameras. It has only one rear 12-megapixel sensor with an f/1.eight aperture, whereas a lot of the competitors include not less than two, making them extra versatile capturing rigs.

The iPhone SE (2022) held in mid-air horizontally, with part of a man's behind it.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

However should you’re content material with a solo digital camera, the iPhone SE 2022 will suffice. It takes surprisingly sharp and colourful images which are on par with the iPhone 13 mini’s. Ornaments on the crimson brick facade of a neighborhood constructing seemed equally crisp when shot on both telephone, even once I zoomed all the best way in. It’s clear that with the A15 Bionic and processing upgrades like Good HDR 4, Apple’s been capable of make the iPhone SE’s digital camera carry out in addition to the principle sensor on its flagship.

The Pixel 5a usually produced darker photographs with cooler, extra impartial tones in its photographs, and although I’m not a fan of Apple’s default remedy, which has a barely yellowish tinge, you do have the flexibility to alter that. The corporate launched Photographic Kinds with the iPhone 13 collection, which helps you to alter preset profiles for distinction and tone. Each image you seize will use these settings (till you choose a special type). Fortunately, the brand new iPhone SE additionally affords Photographic Kinds, so you possibly can train a bit extra management over how your pictures end up.

I used to be stunned by how related the iPhone SE’s photos had been to the iPhone 13 mini’s. From landscapes to portraits of my coworkers, there have been barely any variations within the pictures taken by the 2 telephones. The Pixel 5a was higher at isolating our video producer’s spiky hair from the background than both iPhone, however all three units carried out admirably.

Gallery: iPhone SE (2022) digital camera samples | 13 Images


Our important grievance concerning the final iPhone SE’s digital camera was that there was no Evening mode. This yr’s mannequin nonetheless doesn’t supply one, and although a few of the photos I took of buildings surrounded by mist one evening got here out muddy, others got here out vibrant and sharp. It’s doubtless that my shivering arms contributed to the blur, however typically, Google retains a bonus in low mild.

Up entrance, the iPhone SE’s 7-MP digital camera additionally falls in need of the competitors on paper, however in actuality it carried out simply in addition to the Pixel 5a and iPhone 13 mini. It struggled to maintain up in dim environments, although; I noticed a extra noticeable distinction within the selfies I shot inside a stationary automotive one evening. The iPhone SE’s images weren’t as clear because the others, however they had been nonetheless adequate to share.

Efficiency

Artificial benchmarks don’t paint essentially the most full image of a telephone’s efficiency, however in a pinch they’re a great level of reference. The iPhone SE’s Geekbench 5 scores blew away the Galaxy S22 series, and even got here near matching the iPhone 13 Professional. That is sensible, given Apple geared up its funds telephone with the identical highly effective A15 Bionic chip present in its flagship collection.

In on a regular basis use, the A15 Bionic was highly effective sufficient for many of my duties, together with enhancing and exporting a minute-long video in iMovie and utilizing the digital camera’s Stay Textual content function to scan product labels round me. I did discover some delays whereas organising the telephone, with a noticeable pause from once I tapped “Proceed” to when the subsequent web page got here up. I additionally couldn’t display screen report whereas utilizing SharePlay on a FaceTime video name to point out my house web page to my colleague which, in response to an alert, was a buffering situation. Apple additionally does not assist you to report your display screen whereas SharePlaying, which I want was what the notification defined as a substitute. However all the things else ran easily.

Close up shot of the iPhone SE's bottom half, showing its home button.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

The iPhone SE did get just a little heat whereas I ran assessments and used the digital camera’s Stay Textual content function to scan addresses on a bottle and look them up in Maps. Fortunately, it cooled again down shortly.

As somebody who’s grown accustomed to gesture-based navigation, I wanted to reacquaint myself with utilizing a house key. It doesn’t bodily depress; like on the earlier iPhone SE it is a contact sensor that vibrates in response while you push it. That stated, as unusual because it felt to navigate iOS with a house button, I did welcome the comfort of Contact ID.

Unlocking the telephone was a breeze, too, and should you’re aware of the final iPhone SE’s sensor you’ll be used to this, particularly because the {hardware} is strictly the identical. The truth is, should you’ve by no means recognized life with out the button under the display screen and don’t wish to give it up, that is the one trendy telephone round with it.

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