Apple iPhone SE (2020) hands-on review

Last Update 2020-04-16 00:00:00 Views 17673


The new iPhone SE (2020) is here, and it has all the ingredients to become one of the best phones for the money - especially if you prefer a smaller phone. The new iPhone SE was originally expected to be called the iPhone 9, but the company has decided to return to the SE moniker first used in 2016. Starting at $399, the new iPhone SE has a fast A13 Bionic chip, a 4.7-inch Retina display, a Touch ID sensor, and wireless charging. And while there's only one camera on the front and back, they get a boost from Apple's machine learning tricks to capture portraits. Overall the new iPhone SE (2020) looks like a winner and one of the best cheap phones yet. Commenting on the launch of the new iPhone SE, Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said, "The first iPhone SE was a hit with many customers who loved its unique combination of small size, high-end performance, and affordable price; the new second-generation iPhone SE builds on that great idea and improves on it in every way — including our best-ever single-camera system for great photos and videos — while still being very affordable. iPhone SE features the industry-leading performance of A13 Bionic that enables great battery life, takes stunning Portrait mode and Smart HDR photos, shoots amazing videos with stereo audio, is great for games, and super fast web surfing, and is built with the same industry-leading security features our customers expect. We can't wait to get iPhone SE into customers' hands."

Price and release date

The iPhone SE (2020) costs $399 and will be available for pre-order on April 17, starting at 8 am ET. The release date is April 24. The iPhone SE starts with 64GB of storage for $399, but you'll be able to upgrade to 128GB of storage for $449 and to 256GB for $549. Customers can also get iPhone SE for $9.54 a month or $229 with trade-in from

iPhone SE 2020 design

The new iPhone SE looks familiar, as it's based on the iPhone 8, and it's a 4.7-inch display. In fact, the new iPhone SE is replacing the iPhone 8 in Apple's lineup. The device is made of aluminum and glass, and there's a familiar Touch ID button underneath the screen for unlocking the device, authorizing app downloads, and using Apple Pay. The iPhone SE 2020 is available in three simple colors: black, white, and Red. Apple says it uses a seven-layer color process in order to achieve a precise hue, and the aluminum band is color-matched. One thing that's nice to see at this price is that the iPhone SE is IP67-rated for water resistance. That means the device can survive in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. On the bottom edge of the new iPhone SE, you’ll find a Lightning connector for charging your device. As was widely expected, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack, so you’ll have to purchase an adapter if you want to use wired headphones.

iPhone SE 2020 display

The iPhone SE 2020 flaunts a 4.7-inch Retina Display with a wide color gamut True Tone technology, which means it can adjust the white balance to match the ambient light. The resolution is the same as the iPhone, though, at 1334 x 750 pixels, so this is not a full HD panel. In addition, you get Dolby Vision and HDR 10 support. There's no 3D Touch here as there was on the iPhone 8. Instead, the iPhone SE supports Haptic Touch for performing various Quick Actions. This includes previewing messages and rearranging apps, as well as moving the cursor around in text fields.

iPhone SE 2020 cameras

The new iPhone SE has a 12MP camera with an f/1.8 aperture, which is similar to the iPhone XR, but Apple says that “this is its best single-camera setup ever. That's because the iPhone SE leverages the image signal processor and Neural Engine in the A13 Bionic chip to offer computational photography benefits the iPhone 8 - and even iPhone XR - can't match.” You get Portrait Mode along with six portrait lighting effects, and you can adjust the depth control. Apple can do this without two lenses because of semantic rendering.

You'll also get other advanced camera features, including Smart HDR, which can render clear faces even with bright backgrounds, optical image stabilization, auto-white balance, and autofocus up to 3x faster in low light. The front 7MP camera can take portraits with bokeh effects as well, thanks to a technology called monocular depth estimation. Furthermore, the iPhone SE (2020) records 4K video at 60 fps, and it offers cinematic stabilization for smoother-looking footage. The only major camera bummer on the new iPhone SE is the lack of a Night Mode, but Apple says that you should enjoy better low-light performance overall.

Software, battery life, and processor

While the design of the iPhone SE 2020 might seem similar to the iPhone 8, inside, it’s a different story. Where the iPhone 8 used the A11 Bionic chipset, the new iPhone SE has the same A13 Bionic SoC that powers the iPhone 11 series. This is a pretty big improvement for the new iPhone SE (Apple says it's up to 40% faster than the iPhone 8, and more than twice as fast as the iPhone SE 2016 that it’s technically replacing). The SoC is paired with 3GB of RAM and up to 256GB internal storage.

It allows the speed under the finger to be improved in a range of ways – faster snapping between apps is a given, and things like video editing on your device and computational photography are now possible. The device is running the latest version of iOS 13 out of the box, so you can expect all of the software features that the most recent iPhones have. The iPhone SE (2020) offers the same long battery (1821 mAh) life as the iPhone 8, which was rated for 12 hours of Internet usage. The best thing is that the iPhone SE 2020 supports fast 18W charging, but you'll need to spring for the adapter, as the in-box charger supports only 5W. You’ll be able to charge the new iPhone SE wirelessly with a Qi charger too.

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