Apple iPhone SE (2nd Gen): A smartphone that delivers the basics
April 28, 2020

The iPhone for everyone.

Apple iPhone SE was initially launched as an affordable alternative to the company’s flagship iPhone line – the idea is to include the latest internals in a smaller form factor with toned down specifications. That tradition continues with the 2nd-generation iPhone SE, where you’re getting the latest A13 Bionic CPU that runs on the iPhone 11 but with a price that starts at just 1,699 AED.

It’s the ideal device for someone who wants an iPhone but doesn’t want to spend a lot. By introducing the iPhone SE to the current iPhone line, Apple already has an iPhone for you no matter what your budget is.

The iPhone SE is basically the successor to the iPhone 8 – it even comes with the exact same body, and you will probably not even notice the difference unless you put it side-by-side. The only difference is the Apple logo is now placed at the center just like the iPhone 11. It’s also available in white, black, and a nice Product RED color and comes in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage options.

The rest of the design is pretty standard: the power button on the right side, mute switch, and volume rockers on the left and a Lightning port at the bottom that’s next to the speaker grille and microphone. The iPhone SE retains Touch ID, where it can be used to unlock the device and authenticate purchases on Apple Pay.  It’s an all-glass smartphone that is also rated IP67 so it’s water-resistant and it also supports wireless charging.

After years of getting used to using gestures on the iPhone 11, it feels kind of weird using Touch ID or navigating with a home button. I spent my first hours on the iPhone SE swiping up the screen to go home when I realized I should be pressing on the home button. It’s easy to get used to it, though I’d understand if people get confused at first.

The front of the iPhone SE has a 4.7-inch screen with another speaker on top plus the front-facing camera. I can’t help but feel that the large bezels may make the smartphone feel a little bit dated, considering that this screen has been present since the iPhone 6. That being said, certain hardware aspects needed to be sacrificed to make the iPhone SE affordable. Don’t get me wrong though, the iPhone SE’s LCD still displays great colors, even if at times I miss the dark and bright tones offered by OLED screens. 

But what makes the iPhone SE so great is the A13 Bionic chip that powers it. It already is considered to be one of the fastest mobile processors available, and that means the smartphone is able to handle any game or app that you install on it. True to that statement, I’ve installed around 10 games I always play from Apple Arcade, including other apps that utilize VR – the iPhone SE handled them all with ease. I didn’t notice any slowdowns or even a hint of framerate drops on the games I’ve played.

I even tried editing a 4K video I shot using iMovie, adding titles, transitions, and music and rendered it again in 4K resolution. It completed the task just a few seconds behind the iPhone 11. I believe no other device in that price range can do that.

The use of a newer chip also means that the iPhone SE is guaranteed to get the latest iOS updates. The first generation iPhone SE for example launched with iOS 9.3 and even got updated to iOS 13, which should give you an idea of how long term support is on this second-generation iPhone SE.

With the iPhone 11 sporting dual and triple cameras, the iPhone SE gets a single 12-megapixel wide shooter with f/1.8 aperture. Thanks to the A13 CPU, the iPhone SE’s camera still takes decent shots despite lacking the ultra-wide and telephoto lens of its big brothers. The camera can also take Portrait images and even apply studio lighting. 

Comparing it side-by-side, I couldn’t immediately tell shots taken from the iPhone SE and the iPhone 11 Pro Max unless I zoom in to see more detail. The one thing that the iPhone SE falters is low light images due to the lack of Night Mode that is present on the iPhone 11 where the shots taken at night struggled with detail and noise.

One that’s consistent on iPhones though, is the excellent video recording. You can shoot up to 4K 60 fps on the iPhone SE, and the footage is just as good as the ones shot from the iPhone 11. There’s also a 7-megapixel front-facing camera on the front that also supports portrait shots – even if it doesn’t have the fancy TrueDepth camera system. 

The iPhone SE’s battery managed to get me through a normal workday, but increased usage will also mean that you would probably be looking for the charger even before your day ends.

So is the iPhone SE a good smartphone? The answer is still a resounding yes. It’s clearly aimed at users on a budget, but Apple made sure that you’re still getting the best performance and experience with the iPhone SE with a guarantee of years of software support and updates.

We Love:

+ Affordable

+ Uses the same processor as the iPhone 11

+ Smaller form factor

We  Need:

– Camera suffers in low light

– Thick bezels

Final Rating: 4/5

by Victor Philip Ortiz
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. When he’s not busy playing with the latest games, Victor usually spends his time collecting Blu-rays and building his own movie library. As the Online Editor for T3 Middle East, he develops and writes content for which includes reviews, features, and videos in addition to managing its social media and web content.
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