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iPhone SE (2020) review

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The iPhone SE 2020 review was originally written when it was the most current and highest-priced iPhone from Apple. However, the slow forward pace has meant it isn’t the most recent iPhone in its line. The iPhone SE2022 introduces a few new features, including 5G.

The iPhone SE 2020 was designed with one goal in mind: to launch an iPhone at a lower price than ever before. You can get a brand new iPhone from Apple for just $399 / PS389 / AU$679 – it’s one the most beautiful iPhones and can be yours for half the price of a new flagship smartphone.

Anyone who has used an iPhone in the past will recognize the design of this phone.

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This isn’t the latest Apple smartphone – that’s the iPhone 13 Series, which includes the iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 PRO, and iPhone 13 Max. Each of these devices has its own reviews, but they are more expensive and more expensive than the SE.

Given the new iPhone screen designs, the iPhone SE (2020), is considered the smallest iPhone form factor. It’s lighter and more pocketable than any other Apple phone, except the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 mini , which are slightly smaller, but have a larger screen, and also more expensive than mid-range phones.

Although the SE is water-resistant, it has some limitations. It lacks a bottom headphone jack and the display technology from the iPhone 8 is slightly outdated. This can cause problems when viewing videos or other content in bright sunlight.

Although Apple may have kept the same design as the iPhone 8, the insides of the iPhone SE are significantly improved. The new A13 Bionic chipet inside the iPhone SE adds speed almost everywhere and improves performance over the older 4.7 inch models. Although it isn’t quite up to the iPhone 12 range, it’s close. The iPhone SE also has years of iOS updates ahead of it thanks to the new silicon.

The A13 chipset has also improved the camera performance, even though there have been no significant changes to the sensor specs since the iPhone 8 (there is only one lens on the iPhone SE 2020).

Although it takes good, bright photos that will please most people (e.g. iPhone 11 Pro Max ), it does not offer the same color reproduction and clarity as the iPhone 12 Pro Max or iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Portrait mode isn’t as effective as phones with a depth-sensing sensor. This allows for more precise bokeh effects, but you may end up with odd-looking framing around edges. Overall, the camera takes excellent pictures in almost all situations.

The iPhone SE 2020’s battery life is one of our biggest problems. It won’t last you a whole day unless your a light user.

We would have loved to seen an all-day battery, regardless of the price, given the amount of power-hungry applications that make use of the A13 chipset.

But don’t let this detract the fact that the iPhone SE 2020 continues its predecessor by bringing to you a updated iPhone with minimal compromises and for less than you might think.

Although it isn’t the most powerful or performant iPhone Apple has ever released, the iPhone SE is a great option for anyone on a budget who wants to get into the Apple ecosystem.

iPhone SE Price and Release Date

  • iPhone at $399 / PlayStation389 / AU$679
  • The April 24, 2020 release date for the new iPhone SE was.
  • Now easily available in the US, UK, and Australia

iPhone SE specifications

Weight: 148g

Dimensions 138.4×67.3×7.3mm

Display Size: 4.7 inches

Resolution: 750 x 1334

Chipset: A13 Bionic


Storage: 64/128/256GB

Rear camera 12MP

Front camera 7MP

Pre-installed Software:iOS 13

Battery: 1,8210mAh

Charging: 18W wired, 7.5W wireless

The iPhone SE is now available in the US, UK, and Australia. Pre-orders went live on the week prior to the release date of April 24, 2020.

It was rumored that it would be called the iPhone SE 2 but Apple chose the iPhone SE as the official name for its 2020 device. It won’t be called the iPhone SE 2020 by Apple on its website. That’s our way of distinguishing the device from the 2016 model.

The iPhone SE starts at $399 / PlayStation389 / AU$679. This is a slight drop in price from the launch price of $399 / Ps419 / AU$749 / R 42,500. Base model has 64GB storage. 128GB, 256GB models are also available at a higher price.

The 128GB model is $449 / PlayStation439 / AU$759, while the 256GB model is $549 / PlayStation539 / AU$929. Apple offers the iPhone SE for $16.62/month in the US through its financing program. If you have an older iPhone that you want to trade in, it will be available at a reduced price.

  • Are you looking to buy? Get the best iPhone SE deals

iPhone SE design and display

  • A very familiar (read: old) design
  • Retina HD display looks great, but it is a bit dark
  • iPhone SE 2020 is available in red, white, and black

The iPhone SE is exactly the same design as the iPhone 8 in 2017. Apple was able to keep the price of the iPhone SE as low as possible by using the same form factor and screen hardware as the iPhone 8.

It’s almost as if the iPhone world has changed in three years. The 4.7-inch iPhone screen with its chunky bezels above, below and around feels like it belongs in the past.

The flagship iPhone range has been moving to an all-screen design since then. With the exception of a notch at top, there are barely any bezels. However, the iPhone’s premium aluminum interior has made things a lot heavier in recent years.

Apple’s return to the iPhone 8 design is an indication that Apple will be bringing back the lighter iPhone 8, bridging the gap between older iPhone SE and the impressive (but still amazing) iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The new iPhone SE is light and easy to use. Although some may not notice the difference if they are using a smaller iPhone from 2016/17 or earlier, we can assure you that it could have been much worse. The newer all-screen iPhone models are heavier.

Although the iPhone 8’s design may seem archaic, it is a smart choice for a new iPhone. The iPhone SE 2020 will make this design more appealing to those who don’t care about the latest features.

It is possible that Apple would have redesigned the original iPhone SE shape with a smaller screen of 4 inches and a clickable home button (the iPhone SE 2020 has a haptic but that doesn’t move) but the larger 4.7 inch LCD screen is better for apps that make use of the wider display.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Many will be missing the 3.5mm headphone socket. Although we’ve been lamenting this loss for many moons, the original iPhone SE (or any other phones cheaper than 2 to 3 years ago, which you may be upgrading from) still had this feature.

Although some handset buyers may have already accepted the loss (not many handsets now feature the port), it could still shock those who used phones a few years back, despite the abundance of true wireless headphones.

Apple has included its EarPods into the iPhone SE box. They use the Lightning connector to replace the 3.5mm headphone jack. However, those with wired headphones will need an adapter for $9 / PS9 / AU$15. You could also use a pair wireless headphones.

Although the iPhone SE 2020’s display is not the most feature-rich, it’s still fine. This phone is not expected to have a fancy OLED display.

Although the iPhone SE screen resolution is not top-end, it is not as sharp as older iPhones or a few cheaper Android phones, but it is not that noticeable in most cases.

We would like to see the brightness of display improve: In the years that have passed since the launch of iPhone 8, the screen’s color and vibrancy has increased tremendously. The default settings make them appear brighter, which can negatively impact the battery life.

This brightness needs to be increased slightly too often – it’s an older display that’s available with the iPhone SE 2020. There were many occasions when we had to protect the phone from brighter lights to see the screen. This is not an issue with the newer iPhones.

  • Get the best iPhone SE cases

iPhone SE A13 Bionic chipset

  • More powerful than the iPhone 8
  • Open apps at high speed
  • Sometimes even manages to match up with the iPhone 11 Pro.

The major difference with the iPhone SE 2020 is the new engine from the iPhone 8. Although the exterior design is nearly identical, Apple has upgraded the insides with a new chipset.

The new iPhone SE will be faster than the iPhone 11 in terms of switching between apps and editing photos. It should also have a better camera performance due to the upgraded computational power of the new chipset.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Apple seems to have made some significant performance improvements while keeping this phone affordable. Our experience with the iPhone SE has shown that it was faster than the iPhone 11 Pro Max when exporting an iMovie and compressed a 10-80p video of approximately four minutes at almost the same speed.

It was faster than the iPhone 8 Plus when we tried to compress and export a movie to a smaller file.

The iPhone 11 Pro handsets can handle more graphically-intensive tasks and apps. However, the iPhone SE is still able to play more advanced games such as Pascal’s Wager. Unless you are intentionally taxing the SE 2020, you will not notice any difference.

The iPhone 12 is the best, and the A14 Bionic chipset makes it even better. But the iPhone SE 2020 isn’t far behind.

It’s fascinating to see how the iPhone SE has been “angled” by Apple in terms power output. The benchmark testing revealed that the iPhone SE doesn’t have the same speed or raw grunt as the iPhone 11, suggesting that Apple is trying to balance power output and battery performance.

These benchmark scores showed almost identical single-core scores (for low-impact tasks), of 1300 on the iPhone SE and 3100 on the multi-core test. This is less than the iPhone 11 Pro range’s 3500, but still not as high as the standard iPhone 11.

All of our benchmarks showed a similar result, which suggests that the iPhone SE 2020 does not have the same raw grunt as the Pro range. It is perhaps made to offer the longest battery life.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPhone 11 and the iPhone 11 Pro have the same results. There are small differences in benchmark scores that can be seen on both devices. This is likely to allow for more tailored experiences to target users.

Pro models will have the maximum power, so there is a bigger battery to compensate. However, the average user may be able to live with a more balanced model. The new iPhone SE has 3GB RAM instead of the 4GB that the iPhone 11 or iPhone 12 pack, which again reduces costs.

The new iPhone SE was very responsive and did not slow down at all. This is except for the camera which took about a second to process every image. It’s not a major issue in the grand scheme, but it can be annoying if you need to quickly check out a photo you’ve taken.

It is difficult to find anything else to say about the upgraded chipet, which will have an effect on the performance some apps in future. However, side-by-side comparisons show that we can’t fault its power.

The iPhone SE was launched with iOS 13.4 by default. However, it has received many updates, including major ones to iOS 14 or iOS 15. At the time of writing, iOS 15.1 is the most current version.

iPhone SE camera

  • Single sensor 12MP, embedded with advanced image processing
  • Excellent photos but not market-leading
  • Wide range of video recording options

The iPhone SE’s most important feature – and the reason we are writing this review – is its camera. Given the old hardware available, Apple has made a bet that image processing powered with the A13 Bionic chipset can improve photo quality.

The gamble paid off. The iPhone 11 Pro Max can be outshone by the iPhone SE in general snapping. However, the iPhone SE is much more adept at addressing hardware issues.

We’ll talk more about this in a second, but we have compared the iPhone SE 2020 with the iPhone 11 Pro Max , the iPhone XS Max , and the iPhone 8 Plus and it stands up well.

Before we get into the performance of the camera, let’s take a look at the hardware. The iPhone SE camera uses the same set lenses and megapixel count as the iPhone 8. It has a 12MP camera with six elements and a sapphire cover.

We don’t know which sensor is being used. Apple would not confirm whether the hardware had been upgraded. However, the 12MP camera with f/1.8 aperture and the same 12MP sensor remain. It seems there has been very little to no change in the sensor.

Apple has maintained the same hardware specifications for the iPhone 8’s wide-angle lens, but greatly improved the quality of the photos – which indicates that the processor is doing most of the heavy lifting. How much of a difference does it make to equip the iPhone SE with the A13 Bionic chipset and the improved image signal processor?

It is quite a bit. Photos taken with the iPhone SE 2020 can be compared to photos taken with the iPhone 8 Plus. You will instantly notice a sharper photo, better color reproduction and a more ‘better’ overall image, regardless of whether it was taken in darker or brighter conditions.

Apple’s “tuning” of images using the new iPhone SE is fascinating. This is the way that it thinks a photo should look. The processing appears to be following in the footsteps of the iPhone 11 range and favoring a cooler scene.

The result is images that appear less warm than those taken from the iPhone XS in 2018 (which we think are more visually appealing), however, the processing produces snaps with high levels of sharpness, clarity, and precision.

Comparing the iPhone 13 Pro Max with the iPhone SE, which is one of Apple’s most feature-packed phones, it’s clear that the iPhone SE does not perform as well… but this is understandable considering the price. The SE is prone to overexposing in certain situations, with some of its color and vividness being lost in a few photos.

One particular example was when we had to drastically reduce the exposure of a scene from nature taken in forest cover. The image was too bright, despite the dark conditions. It seemed like the iPhone SE camera was trying to compensate. The viewfinder images were often brighter than they are in real life. This meant that we needed to adjust the exposure.

But, a direct comparison to the most expensive iPhone on the market showed that there was not as much difference. There aren’t features like night mode, which is a great feature and well worth considering if you’re looking at the iPhone 11, or the extra ultra-wide and 2-x zoom cameras.

The differences in image quality are not significant, but they are still noticeable. The iPhone SE’s depth of field capabilities are not as strong as the iPhone SE due to the absence of a depth sensor lens.

Portrait mode is not always able to focus on the edges of the subject.

The edges of subjects can sometimes blurred by the new iPhone SE camera. This makes smart effects like Stage Light Mono look very strange. Some hairs are missing at the sides. Although it isn’t terrible, it can be difficult to capture the smart-looking photos Apple uses in its marketing.


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