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Apple iPhone SE (2022) review: Great value in a very good iPhone

Aabhas Sharma / Gadgets Now / Updated: Mar 30, 2022, 12:20PM IST
Apple iPhone SE 2022 review Great value in a very good iPhone
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Super fast performance

Compact form factor

A15 Bionic processor

Apple iPhone SE 2022
Apple iPhone SE 2022
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Let’s get one thing straight: there’s no other brand but Apple that can make — and sell by the millions — a phone like iPhone SE. It’s not as if the people working in the Apple spaceship campus in Cupertino drank some Kool-Aid or anything but not many people have the confidence — bordering on arrogance — to pull off a device like iPhone SE. Hear us out.

Which other brand do you think can still use a design aesthetic that was first seen many years ago — almost a lifetime in the world of phones — and put it in a phone in 2022? Can any other brand launch a phone that costs more than Rs 40,000 and put a single camera sensor? No, certainly not when clearly they are falling over each other to put more megapixels, more features in their cameras. Then how can Apple pull it off? Apple hasn’t done some sorcery in the minds of consumers but carefully crafted an image for every product that it has. What’s the iPhone SE’s image, you may ask? One word answer: iPhone — it has the image of an iPhone. The iPhone SE is an iPhone first and foremost and that itself holds enough sway and power in the minds of consumers. The iPhone SE (2022) might be -- pardon the cliché -- old wine in a new bottle but the grapes used for the wine are quite delectable. Read our review to find out more

Design and display

As we mentioned, the design of the iPhone SE isn’t going to turn many heads as such. Or it doesn’t look like the shiny Android phones that are dime by the dozen. The iPhone SE does look extremely outdated — the thick bezels, a big chin and forehead — stand out but for all the wrong reasons. Yet, there’s a sense of familiarity which would be appreciated by many and a lot of it is down to the Home button. Despite the FaceID and gestures in the ‘modern’ iPhones, the Home button retains a certain nostalgic value and utility which can’t be beaten. The Home button makes accessing the iPhone a lot easier for a certain set of buyers — say, senior citizens. The purpose of the iPhone SE’s design is to give that sense of familiarity and ease of use to buyers. That’s not to say that the modern iPhones aren’t easy to use but for someone who is shifting from iPhone 6, iPhone 7, iPhone 8 — and yes there are people who still are content with these older iPhones.

You will find a glass back in the iPhone SE and on it a single camera lens. Apple has slightly changed the colour variants — the Product (RED) remains the same whereas the black and white are called Midnight and Starlight. The Midnight has a lot of shades of blue rather than black. Similarly, the Starlight is also more silvery with a tinge of gold rather than pure white.

The LCD retina display is another aspect that will not be appreciated by many, especially compared to Android phones. The display quality is actually good but the size might be a dampener for those who like to consume a lot of content on their smartphones. The brightness levels are more than adequate. The colour reproduction is remarkably accurate and it genuinely is nice to look at is quite sharp at 326 pixels per inch. However, as we said, the size does take time to used to it. For people who like small iPhones, the display won’t be too much of an issue. Again, if you put it next to the iPhone 12, it will look washed out but then someone who wants to buy an iPhone 12 won’t really want an iPhone SE.

Performance, battery life

If someone who wants to buy an iPhone won’t buy the iPhone SE because of the display then that buyer may very well buy the latter because of the performance. The A15 Bionic processor is the same one that is found in the iPhone 13 series. You can call out Apple for pricing the iPhone SE higher than expected or diss it for using a dated design but there’s no other brand that will actually put the same processor found in its premium phone as well as the affordable one. And that’s where the iPhone SE scores over every other phone it competes with.

The A15 Bionic — six-core CPU and four-core GPU — is certainly the snappiest processor you can find in any phone, never mind a phone that costs just above Rs 40,000. When people buy phones they want and expect them to last for a long time. And this is the biggest USP of the iPhone SE (2022). It will last you easily for years without any noticeable drop in performance. What also works in the favour of the iPhone SE (2022) is that it stands to receive OS updates for at least five years — another ‘feature’ you will not find in any Android phone in this price range.

So here’s a phone without the headline-grabbing features and lacks the pizzaz but will get updates for years. Add to it the fact that its processor smokes every other processor in the price range without breaking a sweat and you will see the value in the iPhone SE. It’s meant for people who want their smartphones to not hang or crash and last for a long time. It’s not meant for people who choose style over substance and that’s what Apple knows and that’s why when people wonder why sell a “dated” phone? Because it offers a lot of value to a large section of smartphone buyers.

Take the case of the iPhone 11. People still keep an eye for deals and discounts to see when the price drops so they can pick it up. The first reason is that the iPhone 11 runs on the A13 is still a fast processor compared to many current Android phones. And the second reason is that it brings the great aspirational value of owning an iPhone.

The iPhone SE in sense of performance is extremely good — even while playing games. We tested the Call of Duty: Mobile on the iPhone SE and there wasn’t any noticeable lag. The phone did heat up slightly after 30 minutes but it wasn’t really bothersome.

The one worry people have — and it has been a legitimate worry — is that because of the size of the phone the battery performance might suffer. Apple claims that on a single charge the iPhone SE can deliver 15 hours of video playback. That’s a claim for the spec sheet as no one will actually watch 15 hours of videos on the iPhone SE but it can last close to a day on medium usage. The battery does drain quickly when you are playing. 30 minutes of continuous gaming on the iPhone SE and the battery levels fell by 15% — which is rather alarming. However, the quintessential buyer of the iPhone SE is unlikely to play games on it and would use it for routine tasks on which it can last 8-9 hours.

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The iPhone SE has a single 12MP sensor that has an f/1.8 aperture. This is the exact same camera that was found in the iPhone 8. Smartphone photography, however, has moved beyond the hardware specs. There’s a combination of machine learning, computational photography and the software that works with the hardware to deliver the images you finally click. Apple’s computational photography game has always been sharp and it has used that effectively on the iPhone SE (2022). You get features like photographic styles and Portrait mode but the single sensor has its limitations.

The iPhone SE has Smart HDR4 — and even Deep Fusion — which means that in broad daylight it clicks really impressive images. The shadows are well-balanced and details are highlighted quite well. The iPhone SE does a fine job of focusing really fast and colour reproduction is spot on. There’s no shutter lag at all and the camera app remains as easy to use as ever. You won’t find people turning up their noses at the images clicked on iPhone SE — at least the ones that are clicked in daylight. If you end up comparing it with iPhone 13 series or premium Android phones then you will see the difference in things like depth of field effect. Portrait mode works very well but is limited to humans only.

Low-light is a different ball game as there’s no Night mode. You will find quite a bit of noise in low-light images and we can’t really fathom why Apple hasn’t given night mode in the iPhone SE (2022).

The video shooting capabilities of the iPhone SE (2022) are second to none. The stabilisation is really impressive and you can shoot videos in 4K at upto 60fps — there aren’t many phones that can do this at least in the same price range. The A15 processor does quite well to cover a lot of the ‘flaws’ that the hardware of the iPhone SE’s camera has.


The iPhone SE — despite the ‘dated’ design and ‘high’ price’ offers great value. No, it doesn’t have the flashy display and fancy camera specs that a lot of Android phones offer in this price range and less. But still, it offers great value simply because it is an iPhone and there’s a certain level of quality that is associated with Apple. That’s why millions of people continue to buy iPhones and Apple continues to make billions because of the iPhone.

Every product in the Apple lineup is designed to serve a purpose and the iPhone SE is no different. So you can keep pining for the iPhone SE to cost lower or hang on to the “if onlys” — if only it was under Rs 30,000 or if only it had a better display — but Apple has made the iPhone SE (2022) to offer an affordable iPhone for those who seek certain things and not all the things in a smartphone. And the iPhone SE does those certain things extremely well and much better than most phones in this price range. And that’s why it is great value for those who want an iPhone with a great processor but don’t want to splash the cash. Starting at Rs 43,999

One can understand the arguments against the iPhone SE (2022) to a certain extent. A lot of people will find it small and dated but there remains an audience that wants a small, no-nonsense phone that does the job that a phone sets out to do. Not everyone wants all the frills and the iPhone SE is an extremely good smartphone for them.

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Apple iPhone SE 2022
Camera12 MP
Display4.7 inches (11.94 cm)
PerformanceApple A15 Bionic
Ram3 GB
Storage64 GB
Price in india43900
see full specifications

Apple iPhone SE 3
Camera12 MP + 12 MP
Display6.0 inches (15.24 cm)
PerformanceApple A14 Bionic
Ram3 GB
Storage64 GB
Battery2821 mAh
Price in india45990
see full specifications

Apple iPhone SE
PerformanceApple A9
Display4.0" (10.16 cm)
Storage32 GB
Camera12 MP
Battery1642 mAh
Ram2 GB
see full specifications
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