Apple’s newest iPhone SE doesn’t go on sale until Friday, but if you’re still deciding whether or not to buy one, early reviewers have gotten to spend a few days with the device. Here’s how they feel about the design, performance, battery, and camera.
The new iPhone SE has the same design as the old iPhone SE, which has the same design as the iPhone 8, which has the same design as the iPhone 7, which has… well, you get the idea. Call it retro or classic, if you want, but it’s old. Depending on your feeling about large all-screen phones, that might not be a bad thing, as CNN’S Jacob Krol writes: “The iPhone SE is comfortable to hold and can easily be used with just one finger. That’s refreshing and can’t be said about the iPhone 13 Pro Max.”
However, CNBC’s Todd Haselton called the iPhone SE “dated,” and pointed out that “there are lots of phones with nicer screens that reach the top and bottom of the phone.” Over at The Verge, Allison Johnson was even harsher, calling it “a tired design straight out of 2017 that makes an already-small screen feel even smaller than it could be.” C. Low at Engadget agreed, saying it “feels very much stuck in the past.”
Performance and 5G
The A15 processor is certainly a bright spot of the iPhone SE, with every reviewer universally praising its speed. The iPhone SE uses the same processor as the iPhone 13, making it one of the fastest phones you can buy at any price, let along $429. Writing for The Sun, Sean Keach said the SE “outclasses anything you’ll find on Android for a similar price” and was “genuinely surprised by how powerful this phone is for the price.”
At Tom’s Guide, Mark Spoonauer called the graphics “quite fluid and…spectacular” while Johnson concluded that “there’s not a lot that the SE can’t do that a $1,000-plus phone can.” None of the reviewers saw much of a difference with the 5G network over the prior model’s LTE.
iPhone SE (2022)
With such fast processors, battery life is far more important than speed boosts, and the iPhone SE falls a little short in that capacity. However, it’s a significant improvement over the prior model, according to Johnson, and “most SE owners will get through a day on a single charge.” However, at Tom’s Guide, the iPhone SE lasted just about nine hours on a single charge, “a bit less than the iPhone SE 2020’s runtime of 9:18.”
Engadget’s Low said “the new iPhone SE typically lasted about a day before needing a charge,” but warned that it “definitely won’t survive your after-work nights out.” And at Mashable, Stan Schroeder remarked that the iPhone SE “seemed on par with the battery on my iPhone mini, which is good for one day if you’re not pushing it too hard.”
Finally, the iPhone SE’s camera is the same as the one on the prior model, but thanks to the A15 chip and Apple’s computational photography prowess, picture-taking has improved. At CNBC, Haselton says that while the iPhone SE’s camera is good, “it’s definitely one area where you can feel the cost savings,” while Krol says the computational improvements “lead to clearer images and let the SE better identify what you’re trying to capture in a shot.” He adds that the shots taken with the new iPhone SE offer a “noticeable improvement over shots from the second-gen SE.”
All in all, the reviewers agree that the iPhone SE is still good value at $429. The future-proofing of the chip and 5G modem offset the old design to make the iPhone SE a solid budget offering. As Low concluded in her Engadget review: “It’s basic, but it gets the job done.”