iPhone SE 2022 test, is the cheap iPhone really a good deal?

Apple is very fond of recycling, and we don’t talk about the aluminum in its products or its ecological commitments. But rather its latest iPhone SE and its look from another time. We’ve been using it on a daily basis for a few weeks, and here is our test of the iPhone SE 2022.

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To fully understand this product, you have to go back to the genesis of Apple’s iPhone SE. SE, for Apple, means Special Edition. A special edition for special products. Really special? At first, yes.

The manufacturer introduced its first iPhone SE in 2016, alongside the iPhone 6S. The principle was to fit the components of the latest model in an old generation chassis. With the promise, at the time, to offer a compact smartphone. And frankly, this little SE left us with good memories.

Four years later, in 2020, Apple did it again with its second-generation iPhone SE. This time, we were entitled to an A13 chip embedded in an iPhone 8 chassis. So a little evolution, for a rather low price.

And so it is two years later that the brand returns with the third generation of its iPhone SE in 2022. And if we could imagine that this new model would draw on the side of the iPhone XR for its chassis, and unfortunately, it does not evolve at all.

In 2022, the iPhone SE once again offers the chassis of the iPhone 8 from 2017 and a front cover with wide borders and a Home button, first introduced on the iPhone 6 from 2014. Yes, there it begins really to date.

iPhone SE 64 GB 2022 at the best price Base price: €529

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Design & Screen of the iPhone SE 2022

The iPhone SE 2022 is entitled to a 4.7-inch LCD screen, with a refresh rate of 60 Hz. A panel that remains quite correct today, with fair colors and sufficient brightness, without being exceptional.

Under this screen, a Home button contains the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is sometimes more practical and faster than Face ID, especially when wearing a mask or sunglasses, for example. Despite everything, now that iOS 15.4 has allowed Face ID to work with the mask, we still find less of an advantage to it.

Otherwise, the device is particularly thin, very light and resistant with its new reinforced glass and its IP67 certification. It is pleasant to handle with its rounded edges which provide an excellent grip, and a glass back which allows it to afford wireless charging.

Unfortunately, Apple did not see fit to integrate its MagSafe magnetic charging system into this new iPhone SE. It would have been at least a little more novelty, and an obvious financial windfall for Apple, which could have sold a few more accessories. But we will have to do without.

Photo & Video

It is therefore on this glass back that we find the only photo sensor offered by this model.

We are not going to dwell on it: there is clearly no revolution with this 2022 vintage of the iPhone SE. We find again and again this same small 12 MP sensor, which turns out to be rather correct and which produces satisfactory shots on a daily basis.

And besides, this iPhone can also shoot in 4K with extremely convincing quality for a phone. And that is a strong argument for Apple smartphones, and this little SE does not hesitate.

On the other hand, with a single sensor, the iPhone SE is clearly not versatile in terms of photography. No ultra wide-angle, no telephoto. You will have to settle for a single angle, because the digital zoom clearly does not work miracles.

The other criticism that we can make of this iPhone SE on its photo part is the absence of a night mode. It’s all the more unfortunate that this absence is not related to the photo sensor itself, but only to the software part. Apple therefore did not see fit to integrate this mode into its latest iPhone SE, although it has been present on the iPhone since the iPhone 11, yet equipped with an A13 Bionic chip. So it’s not a power issue.

This iPhone SE is however entitled to a much more recent and more powerful chip, the A15 Bionic. Either the chip that runs the latest iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. Therein lies the great argument of this iPhone SE 2022.

Performance & Autonomy

With the A15, this iPhone instantly rises among the most powerful smartphones on the market. At only €529, it even exceeds other smartphones sold over €1,200, such as Samsung’s latest Galaxy S22 Ultra for example.

However, the A15 may be particularly powerful, in the case of this iPhone SE, this excess of power will probably not be used to run large mobile games or greedy applications. Here, you really have to see the presence of this chip as a guarantee of longevity in terms of updating. It is possible that this iPhone SE will receive major updates for another 5, 6 or even 7 years, this is absolutely not new to Apple. And on that, it’s clear that the iPhone SE of 2022 will do well.

The other argument of this chip is that it benefits from a 5G modem, which therefore allows the iPhone SE to be compatible with the latest generation of mobile networks. If you don’t have a 5G plan yet, that’s okay: it will obviously work in 4G. But in a few years, once again, it will be very practical to be able to count on him as soon as prices drop a little.

Last major point: autonomy. In its conference, Apple underlined the fact that the A15 chip contained in this iPhone would allow it to be more autonomous. And in our test of the iPhone SE, well, we didn’t particularly notice a spectacular leap forward. We could however expect excellent autonomy, while the latest iPhone 13, and in particular the 13 Pro are particularly autonomous thanks to the A15, but on the iPhone SE, the gain is a little more contained.

Yes, it’s still a small feat to manage to last the day with a smartphone that has a battery of around 2000 mAh. Yes, only. But with a battery of this size, Apple does not work miracles either, and the iPhone SE offers decent autonomy, nothing more.

Really a bargain?

Apart from its chip, this iPhone SE 2022 is still a bit disappointing. Already, its price increases compared to the previous iteration, going from 479€ to 529€.

What annoys is above all this umpteenth recycling of design. In 2020, it could still pass, but in 2022, for this price, it’s really limited. Make no mistake about it. The build quality is always there. The chassis is solid, nothing protrudes, nothing moves. Everything is perfectly put together. In short, it’s Apple.

The problem is that at 529€, we could have expected something a little more modern. For this price, among the competition, we have smartphones with edge-to-edge OLED screens with a high refresh rate, photo sensors in shambles, and lots of new features.

But except that this iPhone SE still has a huge advantage over all these smartphones. It is precisely that it is an iPhone, with therefore, access to iOS. For many users accustomed to this OS and who intend to stay there, this iPhone SE 2022 finally becomes a phone of choice for a contained price.

For companies that want to equip their employees with an iPhone. For elderly people, who have nothing to do with the new features of the latest models and who prefer navigation with the Home button rather than the gestures of the latest iPhones. Or, for a child, who will have his first smartphone, and whose parents will be able to monitor his consumption a little bit thanks to family sharing and the App Store.

This iPhone is very clearly intended for this type of profile. And finally, whether it’s yours truly who tests smartphones, or you who read high-tech tests, we are clearly not the target of this iPhone SE.

It’s a simple, powerful iPhone that will last. But for its price, there really are much better alternatives elsewhere. And if you absolutely want to stay with Apple, there are also a lot of other possible choices: a refurbished iPhone 12 mini, for example, if you like small formats, or an iPhone XR, an iPhone 11, or even a iPhone X… In short, it’s not the choice that is missing, and unless you really want to buy a new smartphone, this iPhone SE is ultimately not that interesting.

iPhone SE 64 GB 2022 at the best price Base price: €529

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