Apple’s 2022 iPhone SE Packs an Affordable Punch

Apple’s 2022 iPhone SE Packs an Affordable Punch
Image: Lifehacker Australia

Earlier this year Apple revealed a new model of its budget-friendly iPhone SE. It’s only been five years since Apple ditched the home button on the iPhone, but somehow the iPhone SE 3rd Gen still feels like it comes from a different era.

Luckily, it makes up for it in processing power and packs quite a punch, despite being delivered in an older design.

Here’s how we’re finding the new iPhone SE 3, a few months after its release.

iPhone SE 2022 Specs

  • Colours: Product Red, Starlight, Midnight
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
  • Display: 4.7-inches, Retina HD LCD
  • Processor: A15 Bionic chip
  • IP67 Water resistance
  • Camera: 12MP Wide camera, 7MP Front camera
  • Touch ID
  • 5G Compatible
  • Battery: Up to 15 hours of video playback
  • OS: iOS 15

What’s good

iphone SE apps specs
iPhone SE 2022 Review (Image: Lifehacker Australia)

Using the iPhone SE is what I imagine my life would be like if I still had my iPhone 8. The main difference is that this iPhone actually has the processing power to keep up in the year 2022.

I was initially very reluctant to move on from the iPhone 8, mainly because I was quite attached to the old home button. However, after enough time suffering the slow speeds and glitchiness of a years-old model, I was forced to upgrade.

The iPhone SE brings back a lot of what was great about those initial iPhone models without sacrificing quality.

The processing speed for opening apps, sending messages and loading webpages was on par, if not faster, than that of my current iPhone 13.

The two phones share the same A15 Bionic chip, so this makes sense. However, including the latest chip is huge for an Apple iPhone that is hundreds of dollars cheaper than the main flagship.

Along with the A15 chip, Apple has gifted the 2022 iPhone SE with many of the same features as its latest models.

The handset features the same tough glass as the iPhone 13, which protects it on both the front and back.

It’s only water and dust resistant to IP67, which allows it to be submerged up to 1 meter. Meanwhile, the iPhone 13 is a step above at IP68, but IP67 will still protect your SE against any spills or leaks.

As for software features, the iPhone SE runs iOS 15, which gives it access to many of Apple’s latest features like Live Text and Spatial Audio as well as all the other familiar qualities.

new iphone se iphone 13 size
The iPhone SE (left) and iPhone 13 (right). Image: Lifehacker Australia. iPhone SE 2022 review

The design of the iPhone SE 3, as mentioned, feels familiar and natural. It takes a minute to adjust your muscle memory to use the home button if you’ve gone without one, but it’s quite a throwback.

The iPhone SE is a fair bit smaller than the flagship iPhones of late. That makes it great for those with smaller pockets, purses or hands.

iphone SE screen display
iPhone SE 2022 review. Image: Lifehacker Australia

The display, despite being a fair bit smaller at only 4.7-inches, still presented images and videos in vibrant detail thanks to Retina HD technology. It’s not quite the OLED technology of Apple’s more recent phones, but it still looks pretty sharp.

Camera-wise I found that the new SE held up pretty well to my iPhone 13, despite only having one 12MP front camera. However, it lacked when it came to capturing minute details, zooming in from long distances or adjusting to certain lighting situations.

Still, if you’re not too hung up on photography on your iPhone, the SE does the job just fine.

iphone se camera
Picture taken by the iPhone SE (left), picture taken by the iPhone 13 (right) (Images: Lifehacker Australia). iPhone SE 2022 review

Now, with a smaller phone, you’re probably thinking smaller battery? Well, Apple promises 2 hours of extra battery life over the previous iPhone SE model with the third edition.

In my testing, I found that I got at least 12 hours of video playback when streaming on Netflix, which is more than enough for one day. The iPhone SE also supports fast charging, so you can get up to 50% charge in 30 minutes with compatible fast chargers.

Battery life will all depend on how you use your iPhone, but in my time with the SE I’ve consistently been able to get at least a full day out of it.

We can’t discuss the pros without talking about the price and that really has to be the best part about the iPhone SE.

At $719, the 2022 iPhone SE is almost half the price of a regular iPhone 13 (which retails for $1,349).

This instantly makes the iPhone SE much more affordable and accessible to a larger market. It can be hard to justify spending an extra $600 on the latest iPhone when the iPhone SE has basically all the same features, just at a more basic level.

It’s definitely something that may tempt Android users to the dark side.

During my time with it, I’ve found the iPhone SE has really delivered on what Apple promised, which is to provide a performance phone in an affordable package.

What’s not so good?

new iphone SE 3rd gen
iPhone SE 2022 review. Image: Lifehacker Australia

The iPhone SE has definitely blown me away with its many pros, but it’s not without a few cons.

While the Home Button is a nice blast from the past, the iPhone SE is missing a crucial feature I’ve come to rely on: Face ID.

I’m not entirely sure why this is, seeing as the iPhone SE does have a front-facing camera. But instead, every time you want to unlock your phone or make a purchase, you need to verify with your fingerprint rather than your face. It’s a small qualm, but I did definitely miss Face ID.

While I did say that the iPhone SE’s sole 12MP camera does pack a punch, it can’t live up to the in-built camera tech of the iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Pro.

Image taken by iPhone SE without flash (left), Image taken by iPhone 13 without flash (right) [Lifehacker Australia]. iPhone SE 2022 review
These more advanced models simply offer a level of picture quality that the SE cannot.

ProRes and ProRaw capabilities are not something in the iPhone SE’s vocabulary, so if you’re after the really crisp detailed iPhone images you see on billboards around the world, you won’t find them here.

The screen size was another minor issue I had with the new iPhone SE. Coming down from an iPhone 13, I definitely noticed a difference in the size and quality of the display.

This is something you’re able to adjust to with time, but if a larger screen area is a must for you, the iPhone SE doesn’t have a lot of it.

The verdict

Apple’s 2022 iPhone SE Packs an Affordable Punch
iPhone SE 2022 Review (Image: Lifehacker Australia)

For what it is, the iPhone SE is really an incredible phone at an even more incredible price point.

It’s a true heavyweight in the mid-range smartphone market that will likely be very enticing for entry-level iPhone users or those considering a switch from Android.

The iPhone SE can’t really compete with the top-of-the-line features of the later iPhone 12 and 13 models. It misses out on the stunning camera quality, the larger screen size and it lacks the same level of water resistance. But it does match those devices in processing power, which is a pretty incredible achievement for a phone that is $600 cheaper.

The Home Button is a pro or a con depending on your stance on it. While I am an old Home Button truther, I did find myself missing Face ID. But after a while I was able to easily slip back into my iPhone 8 days, so you probably can too.

Apple’s new iPhone SE isn’t designed to compete with its flagship range, but it does offer a very compelling option for those who are happy to sacrifice the premium features and settle for just the best ones.

The iPhone SE is available from $719 at the Apple Store, JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman.

You can check out the best iPhone SE 3 phone plans here.

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