iPhone SE 2020 Review

The iPhone SE 2020 is lightweight, affordable and evidence of the future. It is designed around one goal: to launch a new iPhone for less money than ever, and that is what it does well. You can get a brand-new Apple handset for just $399/ £419 / AU$749 – it's one of the best iPhones ever created, and you can pick one up as a new flagship phone priced less than half.

The phone 's design would be familiar to anyone who has recently used an iPhone – unless you've been keeping an Apple smartphone since 2013, you'll have seen this 4.7-inch frame before, complete with the top and bottom bezels and a home button with a built-in fingerprint scanner.

With the all-screen designs of the more recent models, it is now known as the 'smaller' iPhone form factor, and it's both lighter and more pocketable than everything from the iPhone 11 series.

It is happily water-resistant, but due to the older nature it has some drawbacks: it lacks a headphone jack at the bottom, and since the display technology is slightly dated (As it comes from the iPhone 8) when you're trying to watch videos or the like it will suffer in bright light.

Apple may have been stuck with the same design as the iPhone 8, but the innards are greatly improved – especially the latest inside A13 Bionic chipset, which adds speed almost everywhere and significantly enhances performance over older 4.7-inch versions. It's not at the iPhone stage introduced last year, but it's not far away – and having the new silicon means the SE iPhone has years of IOS updates in mind.

When it comes to updates, the iPhone SE will run the iOS 14 beta, if you want to look early before the final version comes out later in 2020

That A13 chipset has also enhanced camera performance, despite no discernible improvement in sensor specs since the iPhone 8 (the iPhone SE 2020 has only one lens).

It takes good, bright images that will satisfy most people, but, for example, it doesn't quite deliver the same reproduction or quality of colour as the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The portrait mode doesn't work as well as on phones carrying a second, deep-sensing sensor for precise bokeh effects, so you can be left with some odd-looking fringing around the subject 's edges. But overall the camera takes amazing pictures in most situations – and especially for the price.

Battery life is definitely one of the main problems we faced with the SE 2020 iPhone – it won't easily last you a day unless you're a lightweight and sedate user.

Given the number of power-hungry apps available that can make the most of all the power the A13 chipset offers, we would have liked to have seen at least one all-day battery in there, even at a lower price.

But don't let that distract from the fact that the iPhone SE 2020 carries on from its predecessor by giving you a new iPhone for less money than you would imagine, with not much compromise.

While it doesn't reach many heights in terms of power or performance, it's more than balances that by being the cheapest iPhone Apple has ever released while still packaging refined and useful hardware, making the new iPhone SE a splendid choice for those either on a budget or just trying to find an simple route into the Apple ecosystem.

iPhone SE 2020: Release Date

  • New release date for the iPhone SE was 24 April 2020
  • Currently conveniently accessible in the United States, UK and Australia

The iPhone SE is now available worldwide including the USA, UK and Australia. The release date was April 24 , 2020, the week before pre-orders were going live.

It's been speculated to be named the iPhone SE 2, iPhone SE is the official name Apple has chosen for its smartphone in 2020. You 're not going to see it referred to on Apple's website as the iPhone SE 2020-this is just our way of distinguishing it from the 2016 model.

iPhone SE 2020: Price

  • The most affordable iPhone ever at $399/ £419 / AU$749
  • The 128 GB costs $449/ £469 / AU$829 while it costs $549/ £569 / AU$999 for the 256GBs.

The price of the iPhone SE starts at $399/ £419 / AU$749 / Rs 42,500, which means it's the same price in the USA as the original iPhone SE (but higher in the UK). The base model comes with storage of 64 GB, with versions of 128 GB and 256 GB available at a higher price too.

Apple is offering the new iPhone SE in the U.S. At $16.62 / month with your financing package or, if you've got anything like the iPhone 8 to trade in, just $9.54 / month or $229 – but if you've got something like the iPhone 8 you're upgrading from the original iPhone SE or iPhone 6, you'll just get $30 towards the device's full price.

iPhone SE 2020: Design

  • A very familiar template (read: old one)
  • The SE 2020 iPhone comes in red , black and white

The iPhone SE has almost the same look and design as the 2017 iPhone 8. Using this form factor and screen hardware allowed Apple to keep the device's cost as low as it has, because it didn't need to invest in a whole new process of producing.

Before some time, the flagship iPhone series switched to an all-screen design – barring a notch at the top, you're faced with hardly any bezels – while in recent years, with more sleek aluminium inside, things have become a little more weighty.

So moving back to the iPhone 8 design means Apple is bringing back its lighter handset, bridging the difference, for example, between the older iPhone SE and the behemothic (but impressive) iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The brightness also needs to be increased a little too much – there's no escape from the fact that this is an older display on offer with the iPhone SE 2020, and there have been more than a few times when we needed to shield the phone from brighter light to see what was on the screen – something that isn't a problem with newer iPhones.

iPhone SE 2020: Display

  • Retina HD show is fine, albeit very dark

Indeed, the first thing you'll note is how lightweight it is, picking up the new iPhone SE. Again, some might not notice the change if they come from a smaller 2016/17 handset, but trust us: it could have been much worse, as the devices are much heavier in the larger all-screen iPhone ranges.

It feels like the world of the iPhone has moved on in three years though – now it looks like the 4.7-inch screen with the chunky bezels above and below belongs to the past.

Although the iPhone 8 display may seem like an outdated option for a new iPhone, the iPhone SE 2020 makes a lot of sense – and for those who don't care about the latest features in particular, this more recognisable display would be much more attractive.

One suspects that if Apple rebooted the initial SE iPhone version with the smaller 4-inch screen and the home button clickable (the new SE 2020 iPhone has a haptic button that doesn't move), it would still have sold well; but the larger 4.7-inch LCD screen is more suitable for today's applications, which make good use of the expanded display.

It may not be the most feature-rich show on the iPhone SE 2020, but it's ok. Due to the target market, this phone is targeted at people who want a new iPhone but don't want to spend a large amount of money on one — there's not really a fancy OLED display expectation here.

The iPhone SE screen's resolution might not be top-end (it's much less bright than newer iPhones, or even a number of cheap Android phones), but it's not something that's really that noticeable in most use cases.

The only thing we would like to see changed is the brightness of the display: the colour and vividity of the displays on phones has improved tremendously in the years since the iPhone 8 debuted, and they appear brighter at default settings – and pushing the brightness right up has a clear (and negative) impact on the battery life.

iPhone SE 2020: Headphone Jack And Earpods

One feature that many will miss is the 3.5 mm headphone port. We've been lamenting its absence for several moons now, but as the original iPhone SE (or other cheaper 2-3-year-old phones, you might upgrade from) had this feature we can see it would still trigger consternation.

While some phone buyers might have recognised this loss by now (nearly all handsets are released with the port now), it may still be a disappointment to those using phones from a couple of years ago, considering the plenty of real wireless earbuds.

Apple has put the EarPods in the iPhone SE package, which uses the Lightning connector of the phone instead of the 3.5 mm headphone jack, although those who already have wired headphones will need to spend $9/$9/$15 on an adapter.

iPhone SE 2020: A13 Bionic Chipset

  • Far mightier than the iPhone 8
  • Can open good-speed apps
  • The iPhone 11 Pro also manages to go toe-to - toe at times

The big change with the iPhone SE 2020 (and we're not using the italics lightly there) is the updated iPhone 8 engine. While the external architecture is almost similar, Apple has crowded the insides, with the display running an enhanced chipset.

This extra power is designed to allow the new iPhone SE to compete with the iPhone 11 range in terms of speed when flipping between apps and editing snaps and video, and should also enhance camera efficiency (thanks to the new chipset 's upgraded computing power).

Apple seems to have introduced some major performance enhancements while holding down the cost of this handset, and that impression has been borne out in our experience with the iPhone SE: it matched the iPhone 11 Pro Max – Apple's most powerful handset on the market – for speed when exporting an iMovie, and actually compressed a 4-and-a-half-minute 1080p video at nearly the same speed.

We compared it to the older iPhone 8 Plus with the same test and the iPhone SE 2020 handled the job so much faster when compressing and exporting a video down to a smaller size.

If you're going to tax the phone to its limits, then the iPhone 11 Pro handsets are more able to handle graphically demanding tasks and applications-but we didn't feel the new iPhone SE was losing any output even while playing more intense games like Pascal's Wager. The average consumer will find no difference unless they attempt to tax the SE 2020 on purpose.

What's fascinating is the way Apple has 'angled' the iPhone SE with respect to power output. Our benchmark testing has shown that the newest iPhone doesn't quite have the iPhone 11 range's raw strength or speed, indicating that Apple combines power output with battery capacity.

For the iPhone SE (for low-impact tasks) and 3100 for the multi-core test, these benchmark scores saw an almost identical single-core score of 1300. That's under the 3500 range for the iPhone 11 Pro, but not far from the standard iPhone 11.

All the benchmarks that we ran painted a similar picture, showing that the iPhone SE 2020 doesn't have the Pro range's raw power, maybe built to provide the most battery life.

On the iPhone 11 vs iPhone 11 Pro you can see the same thing-minor variations in benchmark ratings, obviously in a bid to make sure that each experience is customised to different target users.

Many interested in the Pro model may want the absolute full power (which is why there is a bigger battery to compensate) but the more 'normal' consumer would be happier with more of a compromise - the new iPhone SE also has 3GB of RAM instead of the 4GB that the iPhone 11 packs up, like again to reduce cost.

During our time with the new iPhone SE, we encountered very little in the way of slowdown-apart from in the picture, where the phone took a second or two to process each image we took. In the grand scheme of things, that's not a big concern, but if you want to check out a snap immediately you've taken it off most of the shine.

It's hard to know what else to say about the improved chipset (which will have an effect on the future output of some apps), but based on side-by - side comparisons, we couldn't blame the new, cheaper iPhone for its strength.

By default, the iPhone SE launched with iOS 13.4 on, which has since been further modified and the company announced that iOS 14 will also be on the phone in the future.

iPhone SE 2020: Camera

  • 12MP single camera, imbued with advanced processing of images
  • Nice pictures but not leading business
  • Wide selection of ways to capture video

In our opinion, the make-or-break feature for the iPhone SE – and hence the main focus of this review – is the iPhone SE camera and how well it performs in day-to-day use – given that there is 'old' hardware on offer here, Apple has made a bet that it can boost the quality of the picture using the A13 Bionic chipset driven image processing.

Spoiler warning: The gamble paid off handsomely. In terms of general shooting, the new iPhone SE can always hold up to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and only fail when it comes to the places where the hardware is missing.

We 're going to discuss more about that in a moment, but we've compared the iPhone SE 2020 to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the iPhone XS Max and the iPhone 8 Plus and it's keeping its own well.

Before we go into more detail about the performance of the camera, let's look at the hardware: the iPhone SE camera essentially uses the same collection of lenses, and megapixel count, as the iPhone 8, with a 12MP sensor, a six-element lens, and a strength sapphire glass cover.

We don't know the exact sensor that is being used-Apple wouldn't confirm if the hardware had been upgraded there-but the same 12MP camera and f/1.8 aperture remains, so there seems to be very little improvement to the sensor there.

However, since the iPhone 8, Apple has retained the same hardware specs for the 'standard' wide-angle lens on the iPhone series, but has significantly enhanced the quality of the pictures – indicating a lot of heavy lifting is being done by the processor. So how much difference does it make when the iPhone SE is imbued with the same A13 Bionic chipset, complete with the enhanced image signal processor inside?

The short reply is: A number. For eg, place pictures from the iPhone SE 2020 next to snaps taken with the iPhone 8 Plus, and you can immediately see enhanced sharpness, more reliable colour reproduction, and a 'better' overall photo taken in brighter or darker conditions.

Apple's 'tuning' of the latest iPhone SE 's images – the way it thinks an image should look – is interesting, with the processing appearing to fit in the footsteps of those within the iPhone 11 series, preferring a cooler-looking scene.

This results in images that look less warm compared to those from even the 2018 iPhone XS (which is visually more pleasing to our eyes), but the processing does generate snaps with decent levels of sharpness and clarity.

In a side-by - side comparison with the iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple's most feature-packed phone ever made, the iPhone SE does not work as well ... but for the price, that's understandable. It's obvious that in some cases, the SE has a tendency to over-expose, with some of the colour and vividness lost in a couple of photographs.

One in particular saw that we had to decrease the visibility of a forest-covered nature scene. The picture was much too bright in the darker conditions – it seemed like the new iPhone SE camera was trying too hard to compensate for this. The photos on the viewfinder were always found to be much clearer than in real life, which typically meant we had to tweak the exposure.

In a direct contrast with the best iPhone on the market, however, there was not as much of a difference as the huge price tag gulf might imply. You don't get stuff like night mode (which is perfect if you're considering the iPhone 11) or the ultra-wide and 2x zoom cameras.

The variations are slight in terms of the picture quality you get but always there to see. Not all the tricks have come off – the depth of field capabilities on the iPhone SE, for example, aren't as good (because of the aforementioned lack of a depth-sensing lens).

This means portrait mode does not always sort out the subject's edges entirely (and it can only manage to use the defocusing context on people, not objects).

The new iPhone SE camera will sometimes blur around a subject 's edges, meaning using one of the smart effects, like Stage Light Mono, look pretty odd, with parts of the hair missing on the sides. It's not awful but getting the smart-looking snaps that Apple uses in its marketing is not easy

While any phone that is able to work out a subject algorithmically using computer smarts alone is amazing, there is a gulf in quality between a portrait mode picture taken with a two-camera phone compared to a single sensor.

Apart from that, the low-light performance isn't as good, and the colour reproduction of the behemothic iPhone 11 Pro Max

But given the device's relative cost and the fact that the new iPhone SE is about one-third of the 11 Pro Max price, it's simple to forgive some of those mild shortcomings, and instead be pleased that Apple has managed to upgrade things so well just by putting a new engine inside what's an old handset in many respects.

Indeed, the front-facing camera, a 7MP affair, has been given smarter capabilities: you can take pictures in the aforementioned portrait mode , which means the horizon is blurring away and you can arrest the world with only your genius features.

There's no 'slofie' (read: slow-motion selfie video) option here and we can't say we miss it – but that might just be because the term 'slofie' concept still slightly sickens us.

The picture quality is good-it 's smooth and clean, and it even looks great in low light. Apple's photography algorithms have been well implemented here, enhancing the front-facing camera's ability to take smooth, well-lit images.

Again, using any of the options in the portrait mode will often result in a close-cropped shot, with hair appearing rather unnatural or blurred – but regular selfies do come out well.

Even in terms of video, the overall capacity of the iPhone SE 2020 is as strong as anything that Apple provides in its portfolio elsewhere: you can capture 4 K Video up to 60 frames (fps) per second.

However, the 60fps option can only be used in good light, because in lower light, movies would look dark. The footage's sickness looks a little strange – it looks almost too slick – but it does offer a better look for fast-moving scenes.

iPhone SE 2020: Battery Life

  • The battery life is about a day
  • The new chipset surprisingly doesn't make things more effective
  • Wireless and fast charging will help mitigate the lower capacity

Apple hasn't revealed the latest iPhone SE battery size (it never announces this spec), but we do know that the iPhone 8 came with a 1.821mAh power pack, and we expect something similar for the SE 2020 iPhone.

And if that's the case then it's a real concern, since the iPhone 8 didn't have a great battery life – it could last for around a day in regular use, with the charger having to be in reach by the end of the night.

In principle, the new iPhone SE should have a longer lasting battery because it has a more powerful engine at its core and iOS 13.4 is better at handling power consumption.

However, Apple says the iPhone SE "lives about the same as iPhone 8," which is shocking and means you should see about 2-4 hours less battery life in daily use as an iPhone 11, and as much as 25 hours less if you just use your iPhone for audio.

In reality, we saw a mixed battery life result from the new iPhone: it definitely wasn't in the same power-use category as the impressive iPhone XR and iPhone 11 range and we found ourselves having to hit the charger frequently at night.

However, on days of low use, when we didn't use the iPhone for a lot of photography or web browsing, we got to the end of the day with more than that 30 percent left in the tank, and we saw little power-drain overnight too, indicating that the iPhone SE is fairly power-efficient in standby mode.

Depending on the devices you connected through Bluetooth (we had two wearables connected, causing more of a decrease, you'll get about 5 percent output drain overnight.

But ultimately, we thought the iPhone SE was just a throwback to the older, 4.7-inch iPhone versions, where it just seemed the power pack inside wasn't large enough to last the day comfortably – we certainly didn't have the faith in this handset we've come to enjoy with more recent iPhones.

If you come from an original iPhone SE or older iPhone model, though, you won't find any problems (and you'll actually see a small improvement) – it's just a shame that this feels like an opportunity to change stuff that Apple has unexpectedly overlooked.

One way to ease this problem is by investing in a powerful charger. Anything with a USB-C PD or 18W power supply (such as the adapter that comes with the iPhone 11 Pro box and is available for an additional $29/ £ 29 / AU$49) will charge the phone quickly – we 're talking about taking you from empty to over 50 percent in about 30 minutes.

iPhone SE 2020: What About The Wireless Charger?

The average charging speed for a complete, dead-to-100 percent recharge is around one hour and 50 minutes, but the 5W charger that comes in the box will be much slower. We will recommend that you pick up an Apple or Anker fast iPhone charger to suit your speedier charging needs.

Then again, instead, you could buy a wireless charger because the iPhone SE 2020 is allowed for Qi-charging. Take a cheap wireless pad or two, for home and when (in the end) at work, and you'll never have a power-level problem again.

It's not perfect – we 'd say the iPhone could potentially last a day without having to hit the battery, allowing you some breathing space going into the next day or in case of an emergency, but for whatever reason that's not the case here.

iPhone SE 2020: Should You Buy The iPhone SE?

Purchase if ...

1. You want a new iPhone, of great value

This is probably Apple's best-value smartphone yet. Not only is it the cheapest model, but it comes with Touch ID, a powerful engine that makes it under the finger fast and sensitive, and a good camera, all for almost half the price of an iPhone 11.

2. You'll keep track of that for a couple of years

The 2016 iPhone SE was famous because it introduced something new at the time: a new iPhone for less cash than the current ones, and the same concept was provided in the latest iteration. With the iPhone SE 2020, you 're likely to still receive updates and security enhancements for three to four years, which would appeal to those who aren't so concerned about the latest features.

3. You want a lightweight refrigerator

If you're searching for a new iPhone but don't want weight in the bag, then this is the model you want to go for. It's much less weighty (seems to have less battery to rely on in part), and it's easier to wrap your fingers around than other models in the range right now.

Don't purchase if ...

1. You want the best pictures on an iPhone

While the iPhone SE 2020 camera is strong, it is not the best in the series, and struggles in a few places with exposure levels and depth of field effect. It's still powerfully impressive for the cost, though, and will impress those upgrading from much older phones.

2. Long battery life is something you trust

We 're not sure yet why Apple has stuck with the iPhone 8 battery life but it has. It's available, but as the latest models are now able to last a day of daily use much better, we expected more here – this is a lot of 'stereotypical battery life for the iPhone.'

3. You enjoy recording on the go

The screen on the SE 2020 iPhone dates back several years, being the same one used on the iPhone 8. It's not impressive in bright light, and the sharpness of newer displays is lacking, but the speakers are punchy to help enhance the experience of watching movies.

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