2022 iPhone SE Review: Classic Hot Rod Acceleration

2022 iPhone SE.
Zoom / 2022 iPhone SE.

Samuel Axon

iPhone SE is the classic iPhone, OG iPhone, and Mazda Miata smartphones. It works well, and its design is imaginative and familiar – even comfortable – despite being dated, devoid of frills and modern amenities. But the SE is still one of Apple’s best products.

While the flagship iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro dominate screen real estate, quality, battery life, and brutal cameras, the iPhone SE focuses on simplicity, comfort in your hand, and, yes, keeping costs low.

Most people don’t need the iPhone 13’s premium OLED display, although you might argue that at least more might be needed. Wants improved cameras. But for some users, the smartphone is the required workhorse and nothing more. They want something affordable and reliable – something that will last for several years, so they don’t have to think about a smartphone rat race at all.

The iPhone SE is ideal for these users, even if its classic design is noticeably tall. Because for longevity, the interior is what counts.

Specifications

The design, screen, dimensions, camera hardware, and storage options remain unchanged here. This means that the 2022 SE still primarily has the iPhone 8 chassis, and still has a 4.7-inch LCD screen and a home button. You can get the new SE in 64GB ($429), 128GB ($479) or 256GB ($579) configurations.

The iPhone SE jumped on a chip two generations ahead with this update, from the A13 to the A15.

The Lightning port is back.
Zoom / The Lightning port is back.

Samuel Axon

The A15 is the same chip in the iPhone 13 lineup, so you’re getting high-end performance in an inexpensive phone. This is one of the most amazing things about the iPhone SE: no other phones at this price offer anything close to this kind of performance. (We’ll get into the benchmarks a bit further down the line.)

Apple claims that battery life numbers are slightly different for the 2022 iPhone SE compared to the 2020 model. Namely, 2022 demands 15 hours of offline video playback to 13 and 10 hours of video playback in 2020 to 8 in 2020 and 50 hours of video playback in 2020 Volume to 40 in 2020. This is likely due to the A15’s greater efficiency over the A13.

The other major new feature here is 5G support. 5G can make a noticeable difference in download speeds and latency if you live in a place with a lot of coverage. But most places around the world don’t have coverage yet, so be sure to check to see what your carrier has to offer in your location before showing up for this phone on that basis alone.

cameras

The 2022 SE has a 12MP rear camera and 7MP front camera, and can record 4K video at 60fps – just like its predecessor. But thanks to the A15, it supports some new computer imaging features.

The camera in the iPhone SE.
Zoom / The camera in the iPhone SE.

Samuel Axon

The new phone introduces Deep Fusion and Photographic Styles. With Deep Fusion, iPhone SE takes multiple photos in quick succession, then superimposes the best elements for each photo to improve the overall result in a single photo. We’ve written about it at length in previous iPhone reviews, and it does its job well.

Photography Modes are computational photography presets that render images similar to what some iPhone competitors offer (think of the Samsung Galaxy, with its vivid but eye-catching unreal image).

Some people will like the patterns and some don’t. Fortunately, you can choose the mode that suits you best. Just know that, unlike some of the other computer photography features on the iPhone, you can’t change the photographic style preset for an individual photo after you’ve taken the photo—just before that.

design

There’s absolutely nothing new about the iPhone SE’s design, but we still love it. He tells us that this design – which despite some tweaks over time dates back to the iPhone 6 of 2014 – has been in the lineup for a long time. It is the most popular iPhone design.

With rumors circulating that Apple may discontinue the iPhone mini when the iPhone 14 arrives later this year, the 2022 SE may be the last iPhone suitable for one-handed use. So if that’s your top priority, this might be the only iPhone for you unless you grab an iPhone 13 mini before this fall.

Of course, a lot of people want huge phone screens. If you are looking to immerse yourself in movies or video games, you better look at the iPhone 13 instead.

This phone still has Touch ID even though the rest of the recent iPhones use Face ID. But Touch ID still works great most of the time. Seeing an iPhone with such huge bezels in 2022 is strange, but it will upset some people more than others. You probably know just by looking at the pictures if the frame size really matters to you.

Apple says that the iPhone SE 2022 uses stronger glass for the front and back than the 2020 model. In fact, the SE uses the same glass on the back of the iPhone 13. However, we didn’t subject our SE to any durability tests to verify this.