Appleā€™s 2022 iPhone SE Packs an Affordable Punch

Apple’s 2022 iPhone SE packs an affordable punch

Earlier this year Apple unveils a new model of its budget 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 came from a other era.

Fortunately, it makes up for in processing power and packs a punch, despite coming in an older design.

Here’s how we find out about the new iPhone SE 3, a few months after its release.

Specifications of the iPhone SE 2022

  • Colours: Product Red, Starlight, Midnight
  • Storage: 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB
  • Display: 4.7 inch, Retina HD LCD
  • Processor: A15 Bionic chip
  • IP67 water resistance
  • Camera: 12 MP wide camera, 7 MP front camera
  • Touch ID
  • 5G compatibility
  • Battery: Up to 15 hours of video playback
  • Operating system: iOS 15

what is good

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 2022.

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

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

The processing speed for opening apps, sending messages, and loading web pages was comparable to, if not faster than, my current computer. iPhone 13.

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

In addition to the A15 chip, Apple has packed the iPhone SE 2022 with many of the same features as its latest models.

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

It is uniquely water and dust resistant to IP67, allowing it to be submerged up to 1 meter. Meanwhile, the iPhone 13 is a cut above at IP68, but IP67 will still protect your SE from any spills or leaks.

As far as software features go, the iPhone SE runs iOS 15, which gives it access to many of Apple’s latest features, such as Live Text and Spatial Audio, along with all the other familiar goodies.

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

The design of the iPhone SE 3, as mentioned, looks familiar and natural. It takes a minute to adjust your muscle memory to use the home button if you don’t have one, but that’s quite a step back.

The iPhone SE is a bit smaller than the flagship iPhones of recent times. This makes it ideal for those with smaller pockets, purses or hands.

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

The screen, although a tad smaller at just 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 newer phones, but it still looks pretty sharp.

As for the camera, I found the new SE held up quite well against my iPhone 13, despite only having a single 12MP front camera. However, it lacked when it came to capturing fine detail, zooming in over long distances, or adapting to certain lighting situations.

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

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

Now, with a smaller phone, you’re probably thinking a 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 streaming video playback on Netflix, which is more than enough for a day. iPhone SE also supports fast charging, so you can get up to 50% charge in 30 minutes with compatible fast chargers.

Battery life will depend on how you use your iPhone, but during my time with the SE I was always able to get at least a full day out of it.

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

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

This instantly makes the iPhone SE much more affordable and accessible to a wider market. It can be hard to justify spending $600 more on the latest iPhone when the iPhone SE has pretty much all of the same features but on a more basic level.

It’s definitely something that can tempt android users to the dark side.

During my time with it, I found the iPhone SE really delivered on what Apple promised, which is to deliver a capable phone in an affordable package.

What’s not so good?

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

The iPhone SE definitely blew me away with its many benefits, but it’s not without a few drawbacks.

While the Home button is a nice blast from the past, the iPhone SE lacks a crucial feature that I rely on: Face ID.

I’m not entirely sure why, as the iPhone SE has a front camera. But instead, whenever 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 definitely missed Face ID.

While I said the iPhone SE’s lone 12MP camera packs a punch, it can’t quite match the built-in camera technology 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 image quality that the SE cannot.

ProRes and ProRaw capabilities aren’t part of the iPhone SE vocabulary, so if you’re looking for the truly crisp, detailed iPhone images you see on billboards around the world, you won’t find them here.

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 display size and quality.

It’s something you can adapt to over time, but if more screen real estate is a must for you, the iPhone SE doesn’t have that much.

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 really is an incredible phone at an even more incredible price.

It’s a real juggernaut in the mid-range smartphone market that will likely be very appealing to entry-level iPhone users or those considering the switch from Android.

The iPhone SE can’t quite compete with the high-end features of the latest iPhone 12 and 13 models. It lacks the stunning camera quality, larger screen size, and it doesn’t have the same level of water resistance. But that matches the processing power of these devices, which is a pretty incredible achievement for a phone that costs $600 less.

The home button is a pro or a con depending on your position on it. Although I am a former home button truther, I missed Face ID. But after a while I was able to easily slip into my 8 day old iPhone, so you probably can too.

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

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

You can experience the best iPhone SE 3 phone plans here.

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