We purchased an Apple iPhone SE (2020) for our reviewer’s test.
Apple’s annual iPhones have typically gotten bigger and more expensive over the years, but the original iPhone SE (2016) has stayed in line to counter both trends. Essentially the iPhone 5S with newer components, it was both much smaller and cheaper than any other new iPhone of the time. Well, it took a few years, but Apple finally released the new second generation iPhone SE in 2020 and thankfully, the trend continues with a new source material.
Instead, the new iPhone SE is based on the well-known design of the retired iPhone 8, but is slightly smaller than the iPhone 12 and costs half the price, but still has a powerful processor capable of running all the apps and games of today. . There are some trade-offs here compared to one of Apple’s newer models, but the iPhone SE (2020) is a strong choice for anyone looking for a cheaper iOS smartphone.
Design: it’s iPhone 8!
The design of the iPhone SE will be familiar to anyone who has already owned an iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 7 or iPhone 8, as it conveys the essence of the popular cell phone line. It is essentially identical to the iPhone 8 from 2017 thanks to the glass back (white, black or red) and the wireless charging capabilities inside.
Still, the iPhone SE largely looks like the phone that was first released seven years ago, skipping the latest trends and developments. It has thick black bezels above and below the screen with a standard 16: 9 display instead of accommodating a larger screen by placing the front camera in a notch or perforation. It also has a fast Touch ID fingerprint scanner under the display, while Apple has switched to Face ID protection and other manufacturers have opted for rear displays or sensors.
The iPhone SE also looks incredibly small compared to today’s most popular phones. Remember when a phone with a 4.7-inch screen looked great compared to its predecessors? It sounds odd now, but it’s a definite plus for anyone with smaller hands or who prefers one-handed use, something that has become more difficult with recent big competitors.
New: it’s a completely different phone
The 2020 iPhone SE is a significant upgrade over the original model, which makes sense given the four-year gap between versions. The latest iPhone SE has a larger 4.7-inch screen compared to the original model’s 4.0-inch screen, as well as significantly improved overall performance thanks to a newer processor. It takes sharper photos from both sides, has longer battery life, offers wireless charging, has dual internal memory, and is waterproof.
Installation process: quick and easy
iPhone SE (2020) turns on easily when you hold down the power button to turn on the device. Just follow the onscreen instructions that guide you to log in with your Apple ID (or sign up), choose whether to restore data from a backup or copy data from another phone, and set up the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, among others basic options. It is very simple and designed to get you up and running quickly.
Screen quality: small, but sturdy enough
As mentioned, the iPhone SE’s screen looks small at 4.7 inches, partly because it’s a standard 16: 9 widescreen rather than a larger screen like most new phones. For example, the iPhone 12 mini’s 5.4-inch screen has a 19.5: 9 aspect ratio and eliminates the large bezels above and below the screen.
This 4.7-inch display doesn’t have a very high 1334×750 resolution, but for its small size it’s definitely crisp and clear. It can feel cramped at times when browsing the web or looking at some app interfaces, but there’s plenty of room here to complete tasks and play efficiently.
However, this old LCD panel looks a bit confusing when switching between apps and menus and doesn’t offer the sharpest contrast and deep black level of the iPhone 12 line’s OLED displays. However, it does the job for a $ 399 phone.
Performance: It’s a pint-sized powerhouse
Apple should be commended for allowing the iPhone SE to keep up with its more expensive siblings, which means it’ll be backed up with iOS updates for years to come and run the same apps and games without any performance degradation. The 2020 iPhone SE uses Apple’s A13 Bionic chip, which was the current model (introduced in the iPhone 11) when this phone was released in April 2020.
In raw benchmarks, it’s faster than any Android phone released in 2020, even those costing two or three times as much, even the $800 Samsung Galaxy S21 from 2021 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip. Matches the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic chip, but the iPhone SE (2020) feels smooth in day-to-day use and is poised to stay that way for years to come.
Connectivity: LTE only, not 5G
You can’t use the fast 5G connections of the iPhone 12 series – the iPhone SE (2020) stays at 4G LTE speeds. On Verizon’s 4G LTE network north of Chicago, I saw typical speeds of 30 to 60 Mbps during use, including a maximum download speed of 76 Mbps. Unlocked iPhone SE works on all US networks.
Sound quality: Sounds great
The iPhone SE’s speakers work well for speakerphone and video, although music sounds a bit limited on these small speakers. Along with the iPhone 12, Apple’s new phone offers a wider sound and a bit more bass than the SE can muster. However, the iPhone SE is perfect for playing music if you don’t have an external speaker to connect.
Camera and video quality: mostly sharp images
Even with the old built-in flagship camera, the iPhone SE (2020) takes excellent photos in bright light. The photos I took on the road during the day show strong details and contrast, as well as a favorable color balance. Any new iPhone camera is great in its day and will still be in a few years, at least in ideal lighting.
Indoors or in lower light, the iPhone SE falls short of the iPhone 12, which is better able to handle different shooting situations and produce a strong result. Images shot in this low light sometimes produced softness and lack of detail, or darker than expected results. Also, the iPhone SE doesn’t have a night mode, so you won’t get softly lit photos if you’re shooting at night.
Battery: this is the biggest problem
The iPhone SE isn’t designed for power users, and nowhere is that more evident than with the small battery. The 1,821 mAh battery cell is almost 1,000 mAh less than the iPhone 12 and less than half the current capacity of most Android phones.
In any case, if you plan to use your phone for more than just communication, browsing the web and using applications, it’s a good idea to bring a spare battery or charge your phone before you leave home or the office for a while. Time.
Software: smooth sailing
The iPhone SE has the same iOS 14 interface as other current Apple phones and is ready to receive annual updates for years to come. While iOS 14’s improvements have been largely iterative year-over-year, the long-awaited addition of larger home screen widgets like calendars, to-do lists, and rotating photo carousels is very welcome.
In addition, iOS 14 is as robust, smooth and easy to use as any version of iOS to date, and the App Store continues to offer the largest selection of downloadable apps and games of any mobile operating system. Fortunately, the powerful iPhone SE has no problems using them.
In addition to the battery life, it’s great for the price.
If you want an affordable iPhone and don’t care much about the latest looks or features, the iPhone SE (2020) is a strong choice. Yes, it’s small and lacks features like 5G and a Face ID sensor, and the screen and camera aren’t as powerful as the iPhone 12. But at half the price of that phone and with a new processor, this is still a working iPhone that can handle all the apps and games and will be updated with new software and security updates over the next few years.