There is always a lot of buzz whenever Apple launches a new iPhone. The company recently launched the iPhone SE 2022, aka the iPhone SE 3 or the iPhone SE 5G. Sticking to its core philosophy of providing a great user experience, iPhone SE 2022 comes with the latest iOS 15 update. Apple is also known to not fiddle a lot around the design elements of its iPhone models for years. And therefore, the iPhone SE 5G gets the same design as the model launched a couple of years ago. While things haven’t changed from the outside, there are some on the inside. And as they say, never judge a book by its cover. In the smartphone world, never judge an iPhone by its spec sheet. iPhone SE 2022 price in India starts at Rs 43,900. The question here though is whether you should buy the new iPhone SE 2022? After using the smartphone for a few days, here is our 2022 iPhone SE review.
iPhone SE 2022 review
I am going to start this iPhone SE 2022 review by talking about the highlight features. Starting with things under the hood.
Performance, battery life and software
iPhone SE 5G gets Apple’s flagship chipset, the A15 Bionic. As of now, it is the fastest chip available on any smartphone, let alone an iPhone. The A15 Bionic on the iPhone SE 5G is the same as the iPhone 13 and the iPhone 13 mini. You get six CPU cores with two high-performance cores and four efficiency cores. There is also a four-core GPU. Combined, the iPhone SE 5G can take on any smartphone in its price range. With iOS 15, the iPhone SE also feels very smooth and fluid. The new iOS update for iPhone 13 does not get a major design overhaul but introduces many important privacy features. It also comes with certain features that aim to enhance the user experience.
I played some games like Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) and Asphalt 9 on the iPhone SE 5G. There is no hint of lag but the phone does get marginally warm. Despite that, there was no sign of any stutters while playing matches even at hot-drop locations in BGMI. The 4.7-inch screen might feel a bit too small for everyday gamers but for those who are into casual games and want the best gaming experience strictly under Rs 45,000, the iPhone SE 5G can do a good job.
However, with a phone so small and lightweight, the iPhone SE 2022 might not be the best battery champ out there. Apple typically does not reveal the battery capacity of its iPhone models. However, with A15 Bionic and Apple’s software tuning, the company claims that the iPhone SE 2022 offers an extra two hours of battery life combined. The real-life difference might not be as much as the iPhone SE 2022 will last an entire day on a medium case. Yes, it is nowhere close to the iPhone 13 (Review) or even the iPhone 12 (review) but gets close to the iPhone 12 mini (Review). The maximum I got was about five hours of screen-on time on a day with only social media scrolling, about 30 minutes of videos on YouTube and some calls that combined lasted for about 2 hours. Screen-on time might vary based on the use case but overall, the iPhone SE 5G lasted for about a day with standby time included.
As expected, there is no charger in the box. You need to buy a 20W adapter or simply use your old iPhone charger to refuel the iPhone SE 2022’s battery. Since it is a small battery, you can expect the iPhone SE to charge in less than an hour with the right charger. For our iPhone SE 2022 review, we used the AMX XP-60 charger that has a 45W USB Type-C port and three USB Type-A ports that can charge at 18W.
iOS 15 feels slightly different from the iPhone SE 2022. For instance, you need to swipe up from the bottom of the screen as opposed to the top right corner on the iPhone 13 Pro (Review). But the core iOS 15 features have been retained on the iPhone SE 2022. The new iOS update for iPhone 13 does not get a major design overhaul but introduces many important privacy features. It also comes with certain features that aim to enhance the user experience. These include SharePlay, Live Text, iCloud Relay, Focus Mode, etc. With iOS 15, iPhone users can also share links for FaceTime with their friends and family using Android or Windows devices for an audio/ video chat. With Focus Mode, users can switch to a particular profile for getting notifications and alerts as per their preference. This particularly helps me when filing some feature stories or even reviews after switching to a customised “Work” Focus mode. The feature will only allow apps to send notifications if you have allowed them to do so. The same is the case with phone calls.
Goes without saying, the iPhone SE 2022 will get software updates for many years to come. We can expect Apple to provide iOS software updates for the SE 2022 for at least five years, if not more.
Design and display
The iPhone SE 2022 has a 4.7-inch HD+ display. It is almost the same as the iPhone 12 mini (Review) and the iPhone 13 mini. However, the iPhone SE 2022 has thick bezels above and below the TrueTone display. It is an LCD but the best that is currently available. The competition, however, offers bigger AMOLED panels. The iPhone 12, which can be available for around Rs 50,000 on e-commerce platforms, also comes with a taller 6.1-inch Super Retina OLED display. Therefore, if you plan to spend above Rs 50,000 and are okay with 64GB of internal storage for a taller, brighter display, consider getting that one. In case you are okay with a dated design but one that is familiar, the iPhone SE 2022 can be considered.
That thick bezel below the display also houses the Touch ID, something that many have wanted in this pandemic-led world that forces us to cover our face with a mask. Apple released the iOS 15.4-inch update for unlocking the iPhone using Face ID with a mask on. However, Touch ID is a lot faster than Face ID when you are wearing a mask. Of course, one might not always wear a mask and Face ID otherwise will be slightly more convenient in that case. But for those looking for Touch ID, this is the only one out there.
Another unique design element of the iPhone SE 2022 compared to the recent iPhones is its curved frame design. Some people might not be a fan of the iPhone 13 or the iPhone 12’s flat frame design. While I do not have a problem with that, the curved frame might be enough reason for those who want a new iPhone with the latest chip. Yes, familiarity is also a key feature.
Also familiar is the build quality. While the iPhone SE might not look as modern as its more premium counterparts, it sure offers an excellent in-hand feel. The aluminium frame wraps around the glass body of the iPhone SE 2022, which weighs about 140 grams. This not just feels very lightweight but also premium. In fact, the SE 2022 is so lightweight that I freaked out this one time when I couldn’t feel it inside my pocket. Colour-wise, the iPhone SE 2022 comes in three shades. There is the Midnight Blue and the PRODUCT (RED) alongside the Starlight colour option. If you buy the PRODUCT (RED) option, a part of the proceeds goes towards funding grants working on HIV/ AIDS treatment.
The iPhone SE 2022 has a single 12MP rear camera on the back with True Tone flash. The 12MP camera is more than good to click sharp, colour-accurate images. You get a good dynamic range as well. We wish there was an ultrawide camera like the iPhone 13 or the iPhone 12. However, the main camera will not disappoint in daylight shots. Unfortunately, Apple has not provided night mode support on the iPhone SE 2022. We suggest downloading third-party apps from the App Store for that in case you choose to buy the iPhone SE 2022. Regarding lowlight shots, it is certainly not as bad it may seem. Despite not having a dedicated night mode, the iPhone SE 2022 manages to click better shots than what you see in real life. By no means it is the best camera for lowlight camera performance but despite the limitations, the iPhone SE 2022 produces usable images. They are usually well-exposed but there is noise in the shadows.
For selfies, there is a 7MP front camera sitting on the top bezel. With the iPhone, you can expect close to real-life tones. Portrait mode is also among the best on the iPhone SE 2022. And with some filters like High-key Light Mono, Stage Light, you could get some unique selfies. With the help of the A15 Bionic, Apple has also added support for Deep Fusion and Photographic Styles, with the latter being available on the iPhone 13 (Review) series as well.
There are five styles to choose from - Standard, Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Cool and Warm. The Standard style typically offers real colours, whereas the Rich Contrast style offers Google Pixel-like contrasty colours. When using Vibrant, you get slightly more saturated colours. Lastly, Cool and Warm styles, like the names suggest, offer cooler and warmer tones. Apple says the five Styles are no filters as they preserve the colours of the skin tones while making intelligent adjustments elsewhere. While a part of the claim is true, we found some situations wherein the skin tone’s colour changed slightly in the Warm and Cool Photographic Styles. Keep in mind that once you click a photo using a preferred Style, you cannot edit it to the Standard or any other Style. Click here to check some sample images we shot for our iPhone SE review.
So, is the iPhone SE 2022 the iPhone to buy in 2022? The answer isn’t straightforward and varies on your use case. If you are an iPhone 6, iPhone 7 or an iPhone 8 user who wants a familiar design and experience but better software support and a faster chip, the iPhone SE 2022 checks the requirements. It is also recommended for those who want Touch ID and a lightweight design with a curved frame. Sure, there is the slightly-old iPhone 11 which is available for under Rs 40,000 but that one is slightly heavier than the iPhone SE 2022 and also does not come with Touch ID. Also, the iPhone 11 cannot be unlocked using Face ID while wearing a mask even after the iOS 15.4 update.Goes without saying, if you can spend around Rs 50,000, go for the iPhone 12 (review). Despite featuring an A14 Bionic chip, the iPhone 12 has a lot of firepower under the hood that can handle any task you throw at it. It also has a larger, better display and a more versatile camera setup. Of course, for the absolute best and latest iPhone experience, we recommend buying the iPhone 13 series. However, with the iPhone 13 price in India starting at Rs 79,900, it is almost double the price of the iPhone SE 2022. iPhone 13 mini, on the other hand, is officially available for Rs 69,900.