Is The iPhone SE (2020) Worth Your Money?

The most affordable iPhone has Apple’s best mobile processor. But is that enough
(credit: TechTRP)

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As someone who has been using an iPhone 13 Pro Max, I thought I was spoiled. How could I step away from its gorgeous and spacious Super Retina XDR Display with ProMotion, the advanced camera, and that signature design? 

Then came the iPhone SE (2022). It shares the same processor as the iPhone 13 series, the super-capable A15 Bionic chip. But it only has a single 12MP camera with a wide lens, a 4.7in Retina HD display, and a design that was first seen in 2014 with the iPhone 6.

Red Goes Faster

The red is just gorgeous. (credit: TechTRP)

The iPhone SE comes in three colours, Starlight, Midnight, and the one that I got is in the head-turning and eye-catching (Product) Red. 

That saturated, glossy, and gorgeous colour is the first thing people notice about the iPhone SE. It’s a very auspicious colour. 

Even though I have relatively large hands, it fits just right. While the straight frame of the iPhone 13 mini makes it feel compact, the curved frame of the iPhone SE makes it feel whole.

To me, it fits right there in the Goldilocks zone. It’s neither too big nor too small. The fact that it is compatible with accessories going as far back as iPhone 6 is a big plus in my book.

Personality Over Looks

The iPhone SE in a silicone case. (credit: TechTRP)

On paper, the 4.7in Retina HD display seems small. Even the compact iPhone 13 mini has a 5.7in Super Retina XDR display. 

Most of the space on the face of the iPhone SE is taken up by a bar at the top that has the speaker and the 7MP FaceTime HD camera, and the bottom bar that has the Touch ID home button. 

And yet, as someone who is used to the 6.7in Super Retina XDR Display with ProMotion on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, I didn’t mind it at all. 

I’ve even used the iPhone SE as my main device for feeds and social networks. It became my main device for stuff like Instagram and Twitter and for that, I don’t miss the larger display and higher refresh rates at all. I think that’s because of iOS which scales everything perfectly. 

That said, I think the display will not make those who prefer a larger display to watch videos or play games happy. The resolution and size is more for the average everyday iPhone user.

But the iPhone SE is more than capable of handling high-resolution videos and detailed games thanks to that A15 Bionic chip.

I also find that the display is a bit dimmer and a tad dark in the high noon sun. This was obvious when I went out to take photos with the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

One-Eyed Wonder

About that camera. It can do almost everything the cameras on the iPhone 13 series can, which means excellent photos and videos in most scenarios. That’s because it is basically the same main camera, but with a slightly smaller aperture.

Without the extra lenses, it cannot do certain things that I admit I don’t take advantage of often on the other phones anyway. 

It could still take natural-looking portrait shots with smart HDR 4 and photographic styles. That, I think, is mainly thanks again to the A15 Bionic chip which enables Deep Fusion, Apple’s unbeatable mobile image processions.

You can see a couple of samples that I took at a local park here. 

To Buy Or Not To Buy

Looks great even in the silicone case. (credit: TechTRP)

While the iPhone SE is certainly an excellent way to get into Apple’s ecosystem of features and apps, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before getting one.

The iPhone SE does not come with a charger, which is a strange decision since it is touted as the entry-level phone and the choice iPhone for someone who is switching. 

It does come with a charging cable, but it’s a USB-C to a Lightning cable. 

With a starting price of RM2,099, the iPhone SE as a whole is tough to beat. But, that 64GB storage will turn some people away. It is admittedly small for someone who is into lots of apps and loves to take photos, and make videos.

The solution could be an iCloud subscription, but that’s a monthly fee for extra cloud storage. 

For mid-range phones in general, the iPhone SE should be in your consideration. All things considered the combination of iOS and A15 Bionic is tough to beat. 

If you want a mid-range phone with the best mobile processor that works for you instead of mining your information to work for it, the iPhone SE should be at the top of your list. 

Before this review, I’ve written my first impressions of the iPhone SE (2022). You can find that write-up here.

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