The iPhone SE has always been a favorite of mine. I purchased the original iPhone SE shortly after its debut. It was still in my possession until it died about a year ago. Although I doubt I would be the biggest iPhone SE fan in the world, I think I could. It was definitely my favorite iPhone among all the best iPhones.
The iPhone SE is so beloved. The iPhone SE is a compact phone in an age where phones screens are becoming more ridiculously large. It was easy to slip into your pocket, and your friends would have to hire sherpas to carry their larger phones. I was attracted to the iPhone SE because it was Apple’s most affordable iPhone. This appealed to my notorious cheapskate, who hates spending money more than having to deal with large mobile devices.
The iPhone SE (2022) was released by Apple. I should have been delighted. The new iPhone SE was released just two years after its predecessor, the iPhone SE. Previously, Apple made SE fans wait four years for updates. It sounds like enough reason to get the iPhone SE-shaped foam finger.
Apple’s latest arrival is disappointing.
Obi-Wan Kenobi once shouted “You were the chosen,” not at the iPhone SE though he could have. (Image credit: Future)
Objectively, the iPhone SE (2022), which I reviewed, is a great phone. The iPhone SE (2022) has the same A15 Bionic processor as the iPhone 13 models, making it Apple’s most affordable phone. It offers 5G connectivity in a phone that is affordable at a time when 5G networks reach more people. The iPhone SE is still affordable at $429, which is far lower than Apple’s flagships and $20 less than the Google Pixel5a. What’s not to love?
It turns out, there are plenty. The iPhone SE (2022), despite some notable improvements, failed to stand out as more than a minor update to its predecessor. The most annoying features are the ones that aren’t there.
It is understandable why Apple would limit the number of rear cameras to one. This is the compromise you have to make in order to keep the price down. And given Apple’s computational photography, the iPhone SE can afford to have fewer lenses than other budget phones. It is absurd to me that a company could release a phone costing $400 plus in 2022 without being able to take photos in low lighting and still consider that acceptable.
A phone’s most important feature is its ability to take pictures. The truth is that lighting conditions can be challenging when taking photos with our phones. Phone makers have made great efforts in recent years to improve their phone’s ability to capture pictures in low light conditions. Take for example Samsung’s efforts on the Galaxy S22 line to enhance the “Nightography” features. They might have spent more effort in coming up with something other than “Nightography.”
It’s not only fancy flagships that can take low-light photos. Many phones in the iPhone SE price range also offer Night mode. The Galaxy A53 just announced promises better photos in low light and the standard-setting Pixel 5a excels in taking pictures in dark. This feature will be available on the Pixel 6a.
Look at the iPhone SE’s attempt at taking a low-light photo compared to that of the Pixel 5a. Chief, this isn’t it.
Apple’s decision not to include Night mode support on its iPhone SE (2022), is just plain absurd. The iPhone SE has only one rear camera. Night mode is a mobile phone feature that allows you to take multiple photos at different exposures and then combine them with software to create a new, improved photo. This requires processing power and AI. You’d be right to assume that the iPhone SE (2022) is powered by the A15 Bionic.
Therefore, it is clear that Apple resisted adding Night support to its iPhone SE in order to differentiate itself from other premium phones. This is a striking absence considering the wide support for Night mode in inexpensive Android phones.
I’m not only disappointed by the absence of Night mode on the iPhone SE (2022), but also the design. I’m also disappointed in Apple’s decision not to change the design of the previous model. Although I don’t need a new design for my smartphone, my preference is to keep my hardware in good condition until it breaks down. The latest iPhone SE doesn’t seem to be improving with age. I don’t think I would want to use a phone that looks dated in 2026 if it was designed in 2017 when the iPhone 8.
The iPhone’s $429 price jump is also psychological. It’s still very affordable, especially when compared to the $699 price of the iPhone13 mini. You’ll be left wondering why Apple charged $399 more for the iPhone SE 2022. But, if you take a look at the features and the things it left out on the drawing board, you’ll wonder why.
I, an ex-Apple SE fan, am now looking for a new iPhone SE to pledge my loyalty to. The good news is that, despite the fact that phone screens are getting larger, device makers have been able to squeeze larger displays into smaller form factors. The Galaxy S22 was a 6.1-inch phone that I found very easy to use.
It’s probably time to say goodbye to my iPhone SE affections, at least until Apple creates a new design that has better capabilities. iPhone SE, don’t take it personally, you’re still small. It’s the missing features that got large.