iPhone SE (2020) review: The best cheap iPhone

iPhone SE Specs

Price: $399/£419
CPU: A13 Bionic
Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Display: 4.7 inches (1334 x 750)
Rear digicam: 12MP (f/1.8)
Front camera: 7MP (f/2.2)
Video recording: 4K video as much as 60 fps
Water resistance: IP67
Battery existence: Up to Thirteen hours video playback
Wireless charging: Yes (Qi)
Fast charging: Yes by means of not obligatory 18W adapter
Size: 5.Forty five x 2.65 x 0.29 inches
Weight: 5.22 oz.

The iPhone SE 2020 remains one of the best phones for those on a budget, much more than a yr after its release. For less than $400, you get Apple's A13 Bionic processor, handing over speedy efficiency and digicam capabilities you’d be expecting from a pricier telephone. And it's all wrapped in a compact design.

However, some may want to look forward to the new iPhone SE 3, which is anticipated to launch in early 2022. That telephone is expected to function Apple's more moderen A15 Bionic chip along with 5G connectivity. 

The current iPhone SE provides top class options you gained’t to find on some Android phones in its value vary — including its metal-and-glass design, wi-fi charging and water resistance. Some old-school options are along for the ride here, too, corresponding to Touch ID for unlocking the device (which is able to turn out to be useful at a time after we're nonetheless wearing face masks).

I simply want Apple trimmed the bezels in this telephone and added an evening mode for the digicam. If you might be wiling to spend more, the $699 iPhone 13 mini is a superb alternative with a larger 5.4-inch show and 5G. 

Regardless, you'll't deny that the iPhone SE 2020 stays considered one of the best telephones you can purchase for the cash.

iPhone SE 2020 value and release date

The iPhone SE costs $399/£419, the identical worth it debuted at in April 2020. The $399 model features 64GB of garage for $399, but you'll be able to improve to the 128GB model for $449/£469 and to 256GB for $549/£569. 

Trade for your previous tool when you buy the iPhone SE, and that you must get up to $a hundred and twenty off your new telephone, lowering the value to $279. You can also take a look at the best iPhone SE deals to peer if there are further financial savings to be had.

The iPhone SE is to be had thru all of the primary carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, as well as different carriers including Xfinity Mobile and Visible.

iPhone SE 2020 review: Design and hues

I generally like the iPhone SE’s design — with one exception. On the plus facet, it’s a very well made handset with the identical sturdy glass-and-aluminum design of the iPhone 8. There are 3 colour options for the iPhone SE: black, white and (Product)Red. I love how the aluminum band is colour matched with the back of the device.

I attempted out the black style, which appears and feels sleek but did select up smudges regardless of the oleophobic coating. You’ll more than likely need to opt for white if you wish to cover fingerprints.

Another plus to the iPhone SE: The complete design is sort of comically compact compared to the iPhone 11 Pro Max or the new iPhone 12 Pro Max. It’s the distinction between slightly noticing a telephone is for your entrance pocket and having it bulge out. I also didn’t really feel any discomfort when gaming for over 30 minutes at a time; I will’t say that about my iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The iPhone SE measures 5.Forty five x 2.Sixty five x 0.29 inches and weighs 5.22 ounces, which is smaller and narrower than the Google Pixel 4a however about the similar weight. The Pixel 3a has a miles larger 5.81-inch edge-to-edge display with a hollow punch cutout. However, not like Google's price range phone, the iPhone SE 2020 has IP67 water resistance. That method it may be submerged in 1 meter of weather for as much as 30 minutes. You also shouldn’t have to fret about espresso or soda spills with this telephone.

Unfortunately, the bezels around the iPhone SE’s screen look giant and dated for a 2020 smartphone. I saved trying to zoom in on videos to no avail. I would have liked Apple to suit a bigger show in the identical dimension chassis.

Another issue is that Haptic contact does now not work on the lock screen of the iPhone SE for some reason. Unlike other iPhones, you can't lengthy press on notifications to expand them on the lock screen.

iPhone SE 2020 review: Touch ID

Although Apple has introduced Face ID on all of its newer telephones for the previous couple of years, the new iPhone SE 2020 uses a Touch ID sensor underneath the display for unlocking the instrument. This identical sensor can be utilized for authorizing App Store downloads, Apple Pay and coming into passwords.

Just like I remembered, the combo Touch ID/home button worked neatly, and you'll select the amount of haptic comments you favor whilst you press down. The Touch ID button has an important — and unexpected — benefit presently as many are being ordered to wear face mask in public. You can nonetheless easily release your iPhone SE with no need to take off your masks. Face ID received’t work with mask.

iPhone SE 2020 review: Display

A 4.7-inch display screen on a modern day phone would possibly seem antiquated, however those shopping for considered one of the best small phones gained’t be disenchanted in this panel.

I enjoyed trying out the Wonder Woman 1984 trailer on YouTube on the iPhone SE 2020’s Retina Display. The superhero’s gleaming red, blue and gold go well with popped as she deflected bullets together with her silver bracelet. The iPhone SE’s display screen also did a good job rendering finer main points in a Tiger King scene: I could make out person whiskers on the majestic animal’s face.

Just don’t expect a full HD image. The iPhone SE’s display resolution is solely 1334 x 750 pixels. We would favor to look a 1080p show nevertheless it’s not too unhealthy of a trade-off. 

The iPhone SE’s display screen is shiny, because it’s rated for 625 nits and scored a fair upper 653 nits in our testing. It’s just a bit dimmer than the Pixel 4a’s 681 nits.

I didn’t have any issues viewing the display outdoor when surfing the web or taking footage. The panel also supports True Tone, this means that it could routinely alter the display screen’s colour temperature in line with the ambient lighting prerequisites. 

Based on our tests, the iPhone SE’s show reproduces 111.2% of the sRGB color gamut, which simply slightly beats the 105.8% from the Pixel 4a’s OLED panel. The iPhone SE delivers accurate colors, too, achieving a Delta-E ranking of 0.2; a rating of zero is very best. The Pixel 4a’s display screen scored 0.29.

iPhone SE 2020 review: Cameras

The iPhone SE 2020’s digital camera is so excellent that you’d be exhausting pressed to inform the difference between it and the iPhone Eleven in many instances. The one exception is Night mode, which the iPhone SE simply does not have.

Like the iPhone Eight ahead of it, the iPhone SE features a unmarried 12-megapixel rear digital camera and a 7MP front digicam. You don’t get a ultra-wide perspective lens like the iPhone 11 or a telephoto lens with optical zoom like the iPhone 12 Pro models. But the iPhone SE's A13 Bionic chip boosts its digital camera efficiency in different ways.

For instance, you'll be able to take portraits the usage of both the front and back digicam on the iPhone SE, entire with Portrait Lighting effects and the talent to keep an eye on the depth of box. The iPhone SE also benefits from Smart HDR for bringing out the highlights in faces.

I used to be pleasantly surprised through the degree of detail in this iPhone SE photograph of a synthetic pond. You could make out the drops of water in the waterfall in the distance, and the greenery pops round the rock formations. The iPhone SE also did a super process taking pictures the black-and-white and orange-and-white fish in that pond, in addition to the blue-green water.

The iPhone SE held its personal towards the Pixel 3a in this photograph of light purple cherry blossom plant life. The iPhone SE’s shot is warmer and brighter, but the Pixel 3a’s symbol is a bit more detailed and has more contrast.

I additionally give the nod to the iPhone SE right here with this portrait. My skin tone looks more natural and the bokeh impact seems to be very convincing. The Pixel’s manages to take a bit out of the proper facet of my head. There is one small downside to the iPhone SE when taking portraits, though; you have to get significantly nearer on your matter than you do with the iPhone 11 Pro because the iPhone SE doesn’t have a telephoto lens. (You might be inside 6 ft, which is not social-distancing friendly.)

The iPhone SE pulled ahead in this photo of an Aperol Sprtiz cocktail. The general image simply seems to be brighter and extra appetizing. I also like how the iPhone SE blurs out the background. The best strike in opposition to the iPhone here's that the tile looks extra yellow than white; the Pixel 3a were given that proper.

The one camera weak point for the iPhone SE is the loss of a Night Mode. In this picture taken out of doors at night time, the Pixel 3a is in a position to render the timber in the foreground, the automobile in the side road and the house in the background. You can slightly make out anything in the iPhone SE’s shot. I don’t know if the iPhone SE could pull off a Night mode with a software improve, but it could be nice to look Apple upload the function.

If you're questioning how the iPhone SE's cameras measure up to a more recent software than the Pixel 3a, check out our Google Pixel 4a vs. iPhone SE face-off for a camera comparison to Google's current budget providing.

On the video entrance, the iPhone SE can file 4K video at as much as 60 fps, and you can experience prolonged dynamic vary if you happen to drop down the frame fee to 30 fps. This brings out extra details in the shadows along side higher highlights.

iPhone SE 2020 review: Performance

While Android telephone makers outfit their budget telephones with weaker processors, the iPhone SE packs the similar A13 Bionic chip as the iPhone Eleven and iPhone 11 Pro. This method you’ll experience the same speedy and responsive efficiency.

For example, the iPhone SE delivered silky smooth gameplay while I sped along in Sayonara Wild Hearts and tried to stay on the observe in Super Impossible Road. The graphics were not as crisp because of the iPhone SE’s lower-res display, however the total action was simply as swift and enjoyable. Loading apps and switching between apps was additionally lag-free.

Scrolling on the iPhone SE feels slower than on phones with a 90Hz or 120Hz refresh charge, but I don’t be expecting that perk on a sub-$Four hundred phone.

On Geekbench 5, which measures total efficiency, the iPhone SE scored 3,226 on the multi-core check and 1,337 on the single-core portion. Those numbers are related to what the iPhone 11 (3,251 and 1,331) became in. They also beat the Galaxy S20, which scored 3,147 and 867 and costs $six hundred more.

The iPhone SE performed very well on real-world performance checks, too. It took the phone simply Forty three seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p after making use of a few edits in the Adobe Premiere Rush app. That result in fact beats the pricier Samsung Galaxy S20, which took 1 minute and 15 seconds.

Since our trying out iPhone SE review, Apple has released the iPhone 12 family, with four fashions powered through the quicker A14 Bionic chip. Those phones outperform the iPhone SE, however make no mistake — the A13 within Apple's least expensive iPhone still delivers a punch that tops many other units.

iPhone SE 2020 review: Battery lifestyles and charging

The iPhone SE is rated for less battery existence than the the iPhone 11, so you should not expect the longest staying power. For example, Apple says that the iPhone SE delivers Thirteen hours of video playback, as opposed to 17 hours for the iPhone 11.

On the Tom's Guide Battery Test, which comes to continuous web surfing over 4G LTE, the iPhone SE 2020 averaged Nine hours and 18 minutes. That's well underneath the endurance of the iPhone 11 (11:16), iPhone 11 Pro (10:24) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (11:54). The iPhone SE did, on the other hand, best the Pixel 4a, which scored a trifling 8:55.

In my anecdotal testing, I found that the iPhone SE does have less staying power than my iPhone 11 Pro Max, as it has a smaller battery. For instance, after unplugging the iPhone SE at 7 am and using it for internet browsing, playing video games, taking photos and extra all the way through the day, I had 20% juice left at Eight pm. That's no longer bad, however my iPhone 11 Pro Max nonetheless had with reference to 40% power.

Unfortunately, the iPhone SE comes with Apple’s standard 5-watt Lightning charger. (The vivid aspect? Apple stopped together with chargers with remaining fall's iPhone 12 releases.) And with that you'll expect to get to just 29% energy in half-hour, based on our trying out. If you need so that you can juice this telephone to 50% in half-hour, you’re going to have to pay extra for an 18W charger from Apple. It’s $29 for the power brick and another $19 for the USB C to Lightning cable.

If you want to go wi-fi, the iPhone SE helps 7.5W wi-fi charging and supports the Qi usual. Check out all the best wireless chargers to pair with this phone.

iPhone SE vs Google Pixel 4a

Released after the iPhone SE, the Google Pixel 4a is a very good selection to Apple's phone. At $349, it prices $50 less than the iPhone SE. And for that price you get a larger 5.8-inch OLED show, much slimmer bezels and a Night mode for the digital camera, which the iPhone SE lacks. The Pixel 4a additionally gives double the garage at 128GB vs 64GB for the iPhone.

On the other hand, the Snapdragon 730 processor inside the Pixel 4a is slower than Apple's A13 Bionic chip. Plus, the iPhone SE has a water-resistant design, as well as wi-fi charging. So it really comes down as to if you favor iOS or Android.

iPhone SE 2020 review: Verdict

The iPhone SE 2020 is the reasonably priced iPhone to beat, and the one in every of the best cheap phones you'll get. It’s the closest thing to future-proof you’ll to find beneath $400, providing the fastest efficiency round, excellent cameras, wi-fi charging and a top class design that outclasses cheap Android phones.

Yes, I wish the bezels were smaller and that Apple integrated Night mode for the camera — and you don’t get 5G connectivity — however overall it’s arduous to complain too much at this worth. A 5G-capable iPhone SE 3 could be on the horizon, nevertheless it most likely would possibly not arrive till 2022. 

The iPhone XR is a tempting choice to the iPhone SE because it now costs simply $499. For that money you bet a larger display and larger battery however a slower CPU and less advanced cameras. If you like a smaller telephone, however, this handset is not going to disappoint. Overall, the iPhone SE is the one among the best phones for the ones on a budget.

iPhone SE review cheat sheet: Reasons to buy and skip

Reasons to shop for the iPhone SE 2020

Reasons to skip the iPhone SE 2020

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