Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy the New iPhone SE

Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy the New iPhone SE

During Apple’s big “Peek Performance” event yesterday, the company unveiled a bunch of new products and chips coming this year. One of them was the third-gen iPhone SE, offering customers the essential iPhone experience at a reasonable price. What could be better? Well, the phone, for one. It’s good, but it’s not quite the dream device I’d like it to be.

First, let’s talk about what the 2022 iPhone SE is. Since the original SE dropped in 2016, this product line has served as an entry-level/budget iPhone of sorts — a cheaper, but not cheapened, alternative to the pricier flagship models. When you buy an SE, you can expect to take advantage of most modern iPhone features, especially on the software side, even if the hardware lacks the latest bells and whistles and widescreen lenses. The cuts made to keep the cost down might bother some users, but many others would rather save the money.

This year, Apple refreshes the SE with the same A15 Bionic chip that’s in the iPhone 13 line, and adds 5G connectivity. Those two major updates mean the SE is fast, and will last you a long time. But it wouldn’t be right to look at only the positives before making a purchase, so let’s run through what Apple is skimping on to make the SE 3 the cheapest iPhone on offer.

The SE’s looks are straight out of 2017

While there are certainly improvements to tout with the SE 3, the overall design is nothing to crow about. Apple has kept the form factor basically identical to 2020’s iPhone SE, which, in turn, copied the 2017 iPhone 8 nearly exactly. If you were to line up the three phones together, you’d have a hard time figuring out which one was built in this decade.

That said, the “outdated” design isn’t going to be a turn-off for everyone. Honestly, I dig it: The giant top and bottom bezels, coupled with that Home button, scream classic iPhone, and there’s something to be said for the functionality of Touch ID.

It’s more expensive — but only a little

That’s right: The SE, which sat comfortably at $US399 ($554), is now more expensive than ever. $US429 ($596) is the new entrance fee for this “budget” iPhone. While that price tag doesn’t necessarily roll off the keyboard like $US399 ($554) does, it’s still a pretty solid deal, given the phone’s feature set and future-proof chipset.

The camera is better, but certainly not the best

The 2020 SE sported a glorified iPhone 8 camera, plus some boosts from the A13 Bionic chip. It took good photos, but couldn’t compete with the iPhone 12 lineup also released that year.

Apple has improved the rear camera on the new SE, adding modern features like Smart HDR 4 and photographic styles. Plus, the ultra-fast A15 chip helps boost photography via software tweaks, so your SE 3 photos will definitely have the advantage over those taken with the SE 2.

However, there is still only one camera on this device, and it doesn’t offer the same fidelity you’ll find on an iPhone 13. Apple didn’t even touch the front camera, which means selfies will look exactly the same as they did two years ago. That means no 4K selfie video, nor portrait selfies.

I could forgive all of that, honestly, if it weren’t for the lack of Night mode. Apple, why is there no Night mode on the new SE? It’s running an A15 chip, and the camera hardware is definitely good enough. I doubt anyone is going to pay nearly $US300 ($416) more for an iPhone 13 solely for Night mode, so why not add it in a future software update? You know you want to.

The SE isn’t the strongest iPhone ever

With each new iteration, Apple loves to boast about how “strong” its smartphones are On the flagship devices, the glass has only grown more durable thanks to Ceramic Shield, the “toughest glass in a smartphone.” However, Apple opted to not include this glass technology in the SE, which likely means the phone is more susceptible to cracks and shattering.

In addition, the device is rated IP67 against dust and water. While that should protect the SE against the occasional spill or walk through the rain, it isn’t the greater protection offered by the pricier designs, which are rated IP68. You shouldn’t submerge any iPhone in water, really, but you need to be extra cautious not to drown your new SE.

It includes only 64GB of storage by default

I’m grateful to no longer live in a world where the default iPhone came with 16 GB of storage. But in 2022, 64GB is still a bit light. The iPhone 13 and 13 mini start with 128 GB! I get it, the SE is a “cheap” iPhone. But when you need to spend an extra $US150 ($208) to bump things up to 128GB, it stops feeling quite so affordable.

A lack of MagSafe support

MagSafe is fun tech, allowing you to stick chargers and accessories to the back of your iPhone with magnets. Unfortunately, the new SE doesn’t support MagSafe, so your accessories won’t stick (on their own, anyway). If you have a MagSafe charger, you can use it with the SE, but only as a standard wireless charger.

The battery life won’t win any awards

One of the few (but bigger) complaints with the 2020 SE was its battery life. Thirteen hours of video (eight if that video was streamed) and 40 hours of audio playback didn’t make for the most practical battery experience out there.

Apple has improved things this year, bumping those specs up to 15, 10, and 50 hours, respectively. However, the battery still won’t last as long as the one in the iPhone 13, which runs for 17, 13, and 55 hours, respectively.

The new iPhone SE is still more than worth it

Despite its faults and shortcomings, the iPhone SE is an unbelievable deal. You get Apple’s latest and greatest A15 Bionic chip (ensuring software support for years to come), 5G connectivity, and a solid rear camera, among other essential iPhone features, for $US429 ($596).

It’s hard for many of us to let go of the glittering promise of OLED displays, Face ID, and beefier front and rear cameras. But there are way more people who don’t care about those things, and this iPhone does all they need and more. As much as I crave the latest and greatest in tech, if my current iPhone bit the dust today, the SE would be at the top of my list.

[9to5Mac]

  

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