iPhone SE (2022) review – IGN

Apple shook things up nearly 4 years ago with the introduction of the iPhone X, a completely new design that fell along with the iPhone 8. Since then, it has continued with the new design, but the second generation iPhone SE for 2020 brought back the older model for a more alternative Affordable for the iPhone 11 family. Now Apple has done it again with the iPhone SE 2022, with an asking price of just $429. But how long can Apple keep rolling out the same old smartphone with a new processor inside? Let’s take a closer look and see the value that Apple offers this time around.

iPhone SE (2022) – Photos

iPhone SE 2022 – Design and Features

The iPhone SE 2022 will look very familiar to anyone who has seen an iPhone in the past eight years. The design was first introduced on the iPhone 6 with some tweaks and tuning on the iPhone 8 with which the iPhone SE 2022 is now almost identical. It’s the same aluminum-framed phone with a glass sandwich design we’ve seen in years, for better or worse.

The “for better” aspect of the design is that it will be comfortable in the hand and familiar to many people. It has a Touch ID home button on the bottom which is quick to use and easy to access, which of course means no Face ID for the colder months when you’re wearing gloves. Apple may boast “the strongest glass in a smartphone” here, but oddly enough, it didn’t mention the Ceramic Shield that protects the latest flagship iPhones from falls, which the company claims is “stronger than any smartphone glass” — so what is it, an apple? Is a ceramic shield not technically glass? Technical aspects aside, the design is easy to hold and manage with one hand, and fits nicely in pockets, so perhaps the risk of falls is mitigated somewhat.

For “worse” is that Apple’s design is dated in a way that it will never fly the Android side of the fence. If an Android smartphone maker tried to roll out this design on a $429 device, the face of the planet would be laughed at. Even the cheapest Android phones nowadays have ditched the thicker bezels found in the 2022 iPhone SE. For $429, I’m expecting a large, pixel-dense OLED display on Android. Meanwhile, Apple offers the same 4.7-inch, 1334 x 750 Retina IPS display it’s been using for nearly 8 years. Even the iPhone 7 offered 625 nits of brightness (good, but not amazing) which is still on display here. Newer screens are much better, and the slow pixel response time is actually a bit glaring in some cases here, like scrolling. The iPhone SE 2022 looks less attractive when you realize that the iPhone 12 mini and 13 mini are both smaller (and the 12 mini could be cheaper if refurbished). Even next to the nearly five-year-old OnePlus 5, the iPhone SE 2022 screen falls short.

The screen is the cornerstone of a phone, and it’s somewhat of a double-edged blade. It’s a little refreshing to have a screen that’s easy to navigate with one hand. But I really feel pressured by so much content. The keyboard is narrow both vertically and horizontally, and web pages have trouble viewing at once. If a video or a popup appears on your screen, the game is almost finished until you close it, and small buttons can make this difficult to achieve.

For people whose priority is a small phone, this is probably the case. For people whose priority is value and a good screen is a big part of that equation, the iPhone SE 2022 certainly isn’t. Streaming videos on the phone feels cramped, with low detail and none of the excitement from the OLED’s infinite contrast ratio. Although the speakers provide decent sound, they are a little noisy at higher volume levels and are easy to cover by hand.

Beyond looks and screen, the iPhone SE 2022 has a Lightning port in the same place as the old one, supports wireless charging (thanks again, iPhone 8), and can withstand less than a meter of water for 30 minutes (well, but a far cry from six meters managed by the iPhone 12 and 13 or the two meters that the iPhone 11 boasted).

The real big plus for the iPhone SE 2022 is 5G support. This new model can connect to Sub-6 5G networks that carriers are rolling out everywhere, though not with mmWave. Perhaps the main benefit here is that the iPhone SE 2022 will therefore get better support as it ages. It’s not like it needs to use the higher bandwidth of 5G to stream 4K video or anything like that.

iPhone SE 2022 – Software

The iPhone SE 2022 comes with iOS 15, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. This gives it software par, if not feature parity, even with the most expensive iPhones, and that’s no small benefit. Apple’s long-term support for its devices helps customers use their phones for the long haul without having to upgrade just because software updates — and therefore security updates — stop reaching the device. The phone also supports focus mode to eliminate distractions (although a hardware switch for silent mode can also help with this), and convenient dictation through Siri with on-device processing. This last feature is fairly quick and accurate, but it pales in comparison to Google’s recent dictation offering on the Pixel 6 line. Apple’s dictation lacks punctuation like the touch keyboard, which is something Google admirably stands out for.

iPhone SE 2022 – Games and Performance

Even if the iPhone SE 2022 design is definitely a 2006 Honda Civic, the A15 Bionic chip inside is a new turbocharged V8, except it’s somehow fuel efficient in this metaphor. Unfortunately, there is not much space in the box with a starting capacity of only 64 GB

Apple’s latest chip is a massive force, even if it’s not a huge leap over the A14 Bionic chip that came before it. The A15 is an impressive chip with a 6-core CPU, a quad-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine. I breathed through it all in iPhone 13and asked to do less heavy lifting on the iPhone SE 2022. Of course, this begs the question: Why is it included? It doesn’t do any amazing blending of multiple cameras, handling high quality gameplay with high definition and frame rates. It certainly makes the phone fast, and so did the A13 Bionic in the iPhone SE 2020.

This performance displays itself brilliantly in Thatgamecompany’s Sky, which runs unimpeded in High Performance mode. But this is not surprising as it hardly displays more than 720p visuals. The phone does get a bit warm with all that processing going on and a bit of mass to distribute the heat. It’s also hard to get excited about this performance when viewed on such a basic screen. It’s used the less powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 chipset to get more impressive results on more affordable phones, like the $499 Black Shark 4 and the $300 Poco F3, which raises the bar because they opt for big, fast AMOLED screens, and neither of these phones are new.

The small battery also takes a beating when faced with an actual workload challenge. Just 30 minutes of running the Sky with the screen on at 50% brightness saw 20% of the battery drain completely. Streaming TV shows hardly affects the battery, as a 35-minute episode of Our Flag Means Death took just 5% of the battery with the screen and volume set to around 50%. In regular use, texting and browsing quite a bit throughout the day, the phone easily lasts an entire day or even two days, so it wouldn’t fall short for regular phone users.

iPhone SE 2022 – Camera

New iPhone cameras are usually something to get excited about. After all, they get some of the latest software upgrades powered by Apple’s great processors. This is not the case here. iPhone SE 2022 has a primary camera on the back and one on the front.

Sharpness is definitely there, with both the front and rear cameras capturing a clear picture with plenty of detail. The 12MP rear camera captures it while the front camera is a more modest but acceptable 7MP front camera. There’s no extra zoom or ultra-wide lenses shown here, so the iPhone SE 2022’s shooting capabilities are particularly limited. Without different lenses to combine together, the iPhone SE 2022 doesn’t allow the A15 Bionic to stretch its legs much with great camera features like Cinematic Mode.

Instead, the most the camera does is some Deep Fusion to make fine details pop a bit more, or apply SmartHDR4 (although I didn’t notice that it refreshes my photos), or Apple’s application of shooting modes, which are little more than interchangeable, Customizable photo filters. Sometimes these fine details seem to be overprocessed, as all edges in one of my swamp shots seem to have increased contrast.

iPhone SE (2022) – Camera Samples

The best thing that iPhone SE 2022 has to offer from the main camera that you won’t usually find on cheap Android phones is solid low-light performance. The wide aperture and powerful image processing from Apple see this, helping to avoid noisy photos with a range of blur from long exposures. This helps prevent it from completely unraveling by Pixel 5a 5G In the camera department (although the upcoming Pixel 6a may be a different matter), it’s still a poor showing. In all the years that Apple has been making phones with this design, you really couldn’t figure out how to give it the second rear camera that Plus models got?

Video recording is another strength here. Although options are still limited by the single rear sensor, the A15 Bionic has no problem capturing 4K60 shots. I usually see stumbles on budget phones every now and then trying to record in higher quality, but the iPhone SE 2022 doesn’t. So when you want to catch your pet doing something cute or a friend doing something silly, the video will go on.