Apple iPhone SE 2022 review: Old design but affordable | Iphone

The iPhone is back at a discount from Apple and upgraded for 2022, with a faster chip and 5G making it a better deal than before.

The third-generation iPhone SE costs £419 (US$429/AU$719) and is the cheapest smartphone Apple sells, at a price that rivals countless mid-range Android devices.

On the face of it, the iPhone SE doesn’t look like a tempting proposition. There are cheaper smartphones available and they only come with 64GB of storage. The 4.7-inch LCD screen is bright, but narrow and noticeably less sharp and vibrant than competitors. It’s basically the same as the previous version of 2020 on the outside, which looked very outdated.

The bottom of the iPhone SE shows the Home button
The iPhone SE has huge bezels around the display and the old-style Touch ID home button, a design first seen with the iPhone 6 in 2014. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

But while the phone may certainly look old school on the outside, internally it is anything but. It has Apple’s latest A15 chip, the fastest of the bunch and the same chip that’s at the top of the iPhone 13 Pro line.

The phone is very responsive in use and will remain so for years. It runs the latest iOS and all the apps and games you could want, except for Fortnite. It has 5G, wifi 6, Bluetooth 5, wireless charging, water resistance, and all the things you’d expect from a modern phone in 2022.

Battery life is average for a modern smartphone, lasting in the region of 30 hours between charges with the screen on for four hours using various messaging apps and services, and two hours from 5G. That’s two hours longer than its predecessor but miles behind the iPhone 13’s 46 hours.

Lightning port at the bottom of iPhone SE
iPhone SE fully charges in 90 minutes, reaching 50% in 24 minutes using a 20W or higher power adapter (not supplied). Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Use more 4G or 5G mobile data than on wifi and the battery life will be shorter but the iPhone SE should generally last for a day of use as long as you don’t play games for long sessions.

to set

  • Screen: 4.7in Retina HD (LCD) (326ppi)

  • Healer: Apple A15 Bionic

  • RAM: 4GB

  • storage: 64, 128 or 256 GB

  • The operating system: iOS 15.4

  • camera: 12MP rear camera with optical image stabilization and 7MP front camera

  • Delivery: 5G, wifi 6, NFC, Bluetooth 5, Lightning, GPS

  • Water Resistant: IP67 (1 meter up to 30 minutes)

  • Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm

  • Weight: 144 g

camera

Camera app on iPhone SE
The iPhone camera app is very simple for portrait and photo shooting and supports portrait modes, portraits and some other advanced features, but not the night mode for low-light photography. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The iPhone SE has a single 12MP camera on the back. It produces very good pictures in decent lighting with good color balance, detail and dynamic range. Even in dim interiors, it’s impressive, but it lacks Apple’s night mode, so photos taken in the evening are dark and grainy by comparison. It shoots powerful video too, especially at this price point, while its selfie camera is similarly decent in good lighting but poor at night.

Sustainability

Apple doesn’t offer an iPhone SE battery life expectancy but it can be replaced for £49. You should expect that it maintains at least 80% of its original capacity for 500 complete charge cycles. Out-of-warranty screen replacement cost £146.44. The previous iPhone SE 2020 got six out of 10 for repair by iFixit professionals.

The phone contains 91% recycled rare earth metals, 100% recycled tungsten, at least 35% recycled plastic with various components, as well as 100% recycled tin soldered to the main plate. The company details the phone’s environmental impact in its report.

Apple also offers free exchange and recycling programs, including for non-Apple products.

price

The Apple iPhone SE 2022 costs from £419 ($429/AU$719) with 64GB of storage, and from £469 ($479/AU$799) with 128GB or £569 ($579) US / AU$969) with 256GB.

For comparison, the iPhone 13 mini costs £679, iPhone 13 costs £779, OnePlus Nord 2 costs £369, Samsung Galaxy A53 costs £399, Fairphone 4 costs £499, and Google Pixel 6 costs £599.

Rule

iPhone SE is one of the best deals in modern smartphones. It’s not the brightest or most feature-rich but it does provide more bang for your buck for longer than anything else.

It has an almost antique design, and lacks the MagSafe charging and accessory system, Face ID and other subtleties of more expensive Apple models, but otherwise it’s a solid phone. At £419, this is Apple’s cheapest model, competing with mid-range devices from Samsung and countless Chinese phone companies, many of which offer bigger and better screens, more cameras and more storage space.

But unlike its competitors, it has Apple’s chip, 5G, the latest version of iOS and will be critically supported for a very long time by software and security updates – it should be safe to use for seven years or more.

When the best competition at this price reaches the top after just four years of updates, the iPhone SE will last longer than any other mid-range phone. And because it’s an iPhone, it benefits from a huge ecosystem of third-party accessories, plus you can fix it if you break it and the battery can be replaced when it’s dead. Storage starting at 64GB will be enough if you store your photos in the cloud and don’t download a lot of games and movies.

This makes the iPhone SE the best new smartphone for people who don’t really care about phones – it gets the job done and lasts as long as possible.

Positives: The new cheapest iPhone, about seven years of software support, A15 chip, 5G, wireless charging, good single-lens camera, superior performance, easy to handle, water resistance, Touch ID, amazing value.

cons: Battery life could be better, no headphone jack, no zoom camera, no face ID, outdated design, super slow charging, and no MagSafe.

iPhone SE appeared on a table
The front and back of the iPhone SE are made of tempered glass, while the sides are aluminum – shown here in red but available in three colors. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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