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iPhone SE (2022) review: An easy Android off-ramp


The brand new 2022 iPhone SE 5G might fill a mandatory area of interest on provider cabinets, however throws the idea of mid-range worth out of whack. With a decade-old design, too little base storage, proprietary charging, and a limiting digital camera, iOS is not even its largest drawback for purchasers coming from an Android cellphone. On the proper value, the brand new SE could be simpler to suggest, however there are higher Android telephones on the market in your cash.

The 2022 iPhone SE pushes a legacy design and dated show too far into the brand new period to justify its value. Whereas it is a quick cellphone with good battery life and nice construct high quality, the bottom storage dimension is just too small, the one digital camera is not very versatile, and proprietary charging means carrying a cable only for it. And that is ignoring the issue of shifting from Android to iOS. Finally, there are higher Android telephones on the market for a similar cash — or much less.


  • Model: Apple
  • Storage: 64, 128, or 256GB
  • CPU: A15 Bionic
  • Reminiscence: 4GB
  • Working System: iOS
  • Battery: 2018mAh
  • Ports: Lightning, no headphone jack
  • Show (Measurement, Decision): 4.7″ 750×1334 (16:9, IPS)
  • Digicam (Entrance): 7MP f/2.2
  • Cameras (Rear): 12MP f/1.8 w/ OIS
  • Worth: Beginning at $429
  • Connectivity: 5G (sub-6 GHz solely), LTE, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6 (ax)
  • Others: Ring/Silent change, entrance capacitive FP sensor,
  • Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm, 144g
  • Colours: Starlight (white), Midnight (black), (Product)RED (crimson)
  • IP score: IP67

  • Improbable construct high quality.
  • Dependable fingerprint sensor.
  • Nice efficiency.
  • Superb battery life.
  • Good images.
  • Lengthy software program assist.

  • Dated design and show.
  • iOS is limiting coming from Android.
  • Proprietary charging.
  • Rigid digital camera configuration — no wide-angle or telephoto.
  • 128GB needs to be the bottom storage choice.

Purchase This Product

Design, {hardware}, what’s within the field

The 2022 iPhone SE 5G’s design remains to be primarily based on the iPhone 8, however different cues just like the design of the entrance date again to at the very least the iPhone 6. The cellphone appears a stable decade outdated, even when there are a pair years left earlier than that’s technically correct, with huge bezels and a tiny 4.7” show.

Nonetheless a one-handed cellphone in an period of balooning mid-rangers.

At 1334×750, the show is fairly low-res. There’s a sophisticated argument concerning sub-pixel preparations that’s typically offered to elucidate how dated screens like this are nonetheless aggressive towards extra fashionable OLED shows (which even Apple has switched to on its different iPhone fashions), however all I can say is that, side-by-side towards different current telephones, content material like images and video look much less sharp. And whereas many mid-range Android telephones like the Galaxy A53 have high-refresh-rate 90 or 120Hz screens that supply a smoother expertise, you don’t get that right here: 60Hz solely. This can be a bottom-barrel display screen.

It is probably not an OLED show, however it has fairly good distinction, and also you received’t discover that blacks aren’t really inky more often than not. It additionally has Apple’s True Tone characteristic (which I love) that matches the show’s shade calibration to the ambient lighting temperature. When you use hotter lighting at night time for that cozy feeling, your cellphone’s show will tint to match it dynamically. Typically the impact is so good that the cellphone’s display screen nearly feels prefer it’s been printed on paper. Some Android telephones have related performance, like OnePlus units, however I’m actually upset that Google gave up the same characteristic on current Pixels. Samsung has its new “Imaginative and prescient Booster” characteristic on the Galaxy S22 collection, however that solely kicks in beneath vibrant daylight and isn’t nearly as good.

The display screen appears about like this in daylight.

The IPS display screen remains to be vibrant sufficient exterior to make use of, however the 16:9 side ratio has develop into so dated that it may be problematic. Most apps assume you’ve gotten extra vertical area than this, so prepare for UI elements to bug out in ways in which make it exhausting to see content material. And, in feed-based apps, anticipate seeing little or no content material at a time.

The capacitive fingerprint sensor slightly below the display screen is correct and quick. As earlier than, there’s not really a button beneath it, however Apple’s haptics is ready to convincingly emulate the impact of 1 whenever you press it.

Haptics right here beats what you’ll be able to count on from even the costliest $1,000+ Android telephones by miles relating to the number of textures and results it might reproduce. Whereas an costly Android cellphone can rumble properly, Apple’s Taptic Engine can trill, bounce, or resonate in methods that can astound you.

Apple’s Ring/Silent change can also be nonetheless current. When you’re coming from a OnePlus cellphone it is going to be acquainted, and it is a characteristic that I am unhappy extra Android telephones have not cloned. Flipping a {hardware} change to enter silent mode may be very, very handy.

The cellphone’s body is matte-finished aluminum with a stable glass again and IP-rated. The Product (RED) colorway we reviewed this time is almost blood crimson, however it’s additionally obtainable in a extra muted white and black.

I’m gonna piss off lots of our anti-Apple crowd by saying it, however Apple’s match and end stay unmatched, even right here within the mid-range. Each button press is completely clicky, each angle calculatedly uniform, each seam exactly tight. Every bit and half looks like the results of in depth and deliberate thought, right down to tiny particulars like color-matched plastic inside the charging port.

Even the mesh grilles for the earpiece and rear mic have a wonderfully aligned grid — that kind of factor drives me nuts when it’s achieved haphazardly, as it’s on most Android telephones, even when it doesn’t make any actual distinction.

The charging port nonetheless makes use of a dumb proprietary cable fairly than the ever present USB Kind-C port that each different firm’s merchandise (now together with Apple’s different tablets and PCs) have moved on to. Coming from Android, it’s one of many larger impediments — your iPhone received’t use the identical cable to cost that principally each different gadget you personal now does. It looks like Apple’s hanging onto the legacy port only for the revenue it ekes out of its MFi program and forcing clients to purchase its equipment.

You don’t get very a lot within the field, simply the cellphone itself, a cable for the proprietary charger, and an affordable bent-wire SIM ejector device (plus the same old papers/stickers). The cable at the very least is USB Kind-C on one finish, so that you received’t have to exchange all of your chargers collectively along with your cables.

Software program

I like Apple’s {hardware}, however iOS nonetheless has lots of shortcomings should you’re making the journey from Android. Though Apple has picked up a number of Android cues just lately to supply a greater buyer expertise (like widgets and an app drawer), the corporate remains to be extremely restrictive relating to buyer freedom, forcing you to get your apps solely from Apple and stopping you from changing most of the ones an iPhone comes with. Whereas these of us on Android are used to having the liberty of putting in apps from wherever we wish and setting any app we like as a default (you’ll be able to even change your dialer and SMS app should you like), Apple nonetheless received’t even allow you to actually change Safari as your browser — Chrome on iOS remains to be simply Safari with a pores and skin.

Ceci n’est pas une Chrome browser.

Fortuitously, the US authorities would possibly begin regulating away Apple’s anticompetitive conduct right here. However, within the meantime, Apple dictates what software program you’re allowed to make use of and exactly the way you’re allowed to make use of it, which I discover reprehensible.

Most of our readers received’t be coming from an current iPhone in the event that they choose up the 2022 SE, and that’s somewhat unlucky as a result of the info switch and restoration course of on iPhones is typically significantly better than it’s on Android, although you’ll be able to run into some hiccups. Whereas a lot of your apps can be signed in on the brand new machine and have all of your information with no points, I had a pair apps cling after restoring and refuse to even begin. Sadly, since iOS doesn’t provide the freedom to do issues like clear app information, that requires a extra tedious uninstall/reinstall to repair. This encapsulates the distinction in expertise between iOS and Android: Lots of issues work higher and extra easily, however when one thing doesn’t work completely, it turns into a much bigger ache.

You will have little or no freedom on iOS to alter how issues look or work, and a few of these apps cannot even get replaced.

Whereas utilizing an iPhone not looks like stepping again into 2007, with each app you’ve gotten put in dumped in a litter on your property display screen, it’s nonetheless somewhat awkward coming from Android and never with the ability to change the default launcher with one thing you want higher. If the 5×4 grid doesn’t enchantment to you otherwise you’d like (gasp) an empty area someplace apart from the top of the checklist, too dangerous. A minimum of you’ve gotten an app drawer now?

Left: No notifications on my lock display screen. Proper: About 40 within the “Notification Middle.” This can be a dumb dichotomy.

Apps themselves largely work the identical between platforms (although I’d be mendacity if I didn’t level out they usually look loads prettier on iOS), however notifications positively do not. Apple nonetheless insists on sustaining two separate and completely different lists of notifications between your lock display screen and the Notification Middle. Ostensibly, they’re separated so the notifications in your lock display screen are stuff you haven’t seen but, however that’s a workflow that doesn’t actually work in follow. Notification interplay can also be awkward, requiring a protracted press, usually presenting restricted choices, although Apple lastly made it simpler to reliably dismiss notifications with a single swipe.

The “single timer” situation is a typical iPhone grievance — sure, you’re restricted to only one ongoing timer at a time, and sure, that’s inconceivably silly — however equally vexing for me is the place Apple places the continued timer countdown in your notification shade, shoving it up on the high in a solo counter that’s exhausting to identify, in comparison with the simplicity of Android treating it like some other app notification.

It is time to play spot the timer — and it is the one one you will get.

Rumor has it the upcoming iOS model will lastly let Apple’s notifications step out of the darkish ages. However till then, my productiveness all the time takes a nosedive once I’m utilizing an iPhone.

iOS 15 launched new Focus Modes, kind of like a cross between Android’s Do Not Disturb and work profile modes. I spent days throughout my evaluation making an attempt to dial in settings in a approach that permit it do one thing for me, however it’s not a really adaptive system. Another person might need higher luck, however I used to be by no means in a position to decide on a collection of settings that have been really in a position to separate my work life from my private life in a approach that didn’t have me lacking necessary notifications.

Coming from Android, iOS does really feel like a step again by way of software program instruments. Even simply passing a file between two apps could be more durable on an iPhone for no actual motive. When you consider your self as an Android “energy consumer,” you’re in all probability going to be fairly sad strapping on iOS’s coaching wheels. However should you see Android as overly sophisticated and loaded with superfluous choices and simply confused settings, iOS would possibly simply be the respite you want.

Maybe extra importantly, this cellphone will even last more than any Android cellphone, assuming you don’t destroy the {hardware} itself. Whereas Apple would not have a set schedule for the way lengthy it updates its telephones, some fashions have seen seven iOS releases throughout as a few years. Google, the very developer behind Android itself, can’t even decide to greater than three OS updates for its Pixel telephones, and the corporate just lately deserted its 2018-era Pixel 3 collection flagships.

Some Android telephones have been promised as much as 5 years of safety patches, however Apple’s (admittedly undefined) dedication to updates is class-leading.

Efficiency and battery life

The A15 “Bionic” powering the brand new iPhone SE might have a bizarre title, however it’s extra highly effective than something you may get in an Android cellphone. In demanding workloads like gaming, the larger restrict to efficiency might be going to be the display screen’s decision, which received’t be sharp sufficient in some circumstances to permit that A15 to essentially push itself. Arguably that’s a great drawback to have.

Within the land of Android, there’s a time period referred to as “jank.” Irrespective of how briskly an Android cellphone will get or what sort of software program modifications Google makes, Android itself is all the time at the very least somewhat janky in some apps, dropping frames and stuttering each on occasion. One thing concerning the software program and {hardware} mixture on the platform simply makes it inevitable. You may blame it on poorly made apps, dangerous thermal profiles, something you want, however you study to disregard it and even settle for it. However this $430 iPhone is practically jank-free and quick as hell. I can’t keep in mind actively noticing a single dropped body exterior notably demanding video games.

On that word, I don’t do a ton of cell gaming — once I do for testing, it’s often Fortnite, and Fortnite is not obtainable on iOS anymore — however Genshin Impression seemed nice, although it did stutter noticeably at instances and trigger the cellphone to get a bit heat. It’s principally the identical expertise you’d have on an Android cellphone that prices twice as a lot.

Once I reviewed the 2020 iPhone SE on iOS 13, I had notable app stability points, experiencing random crashes and freezes with irritating regularity. That hasn’t been a problem on the 5G SE working iOS 15.

The largest obstacle to long-term efficiency might be the quantity of storage you go for. The bottom mannequin solely comes with 64GB. On Android, that might be barely sufficient to get by for a pair years, however I discover that iPhones chew by means of storage a lot quicker than Android telephones, and I anticipate most individuals who choose certainly one of these up must micromanage put in apps and images inside a yr or two. I’d fairly have seen 128GB at this value, as Google has achieved for its a-series Pixels for the final two years. Even less expensive telephones just like the OnePlus Nord N20 5G ship with 128 GB of storage.

Though the 2020 iPhone SE had a blended reception concerning battery life, that’s not the case right here. I noticed excellent two-day battery life, even with what I’d think about comparatively heavy use. In lighter masses, 7+ hours of screen-on time in a single day is feasible. That is an all-day cellphone for most individuals, and presumably a two- or perhaps a three-day cellphone, relying on how you utilize it. It costs somewhat slowly, however the battery can also be on the smaller facet, which helps make up for that (and it helps wi-fi charging, which many mid-range Android telephones don’t).

When you aren’t aiming to improve yearly, you’ll even be glad to listen to that a battery substitute for the cellphone is simply $50 and might in all probability be achieved at any Apple Retailer whilst you wait. Though manufacturers like Google have partnered with ubreakifix for repairs, quotes for easy operations like this aren’t highlighted at both firm’s websites.


Mid-range Android telephones cram in additional cameras purely for numbers and advertising and marketing, however the third gen/2022 iPhone SE 5G makes do with a single one, and it’s fairly good. Admittedly, it may be powerful coming again to a single digital camera when you’re used to the added flexibility of an ultra-wide-angle or telephoto.

The largest situation with the brand new SE’s digital camera is its efficiency in low mild. Despite the fact that Apple has bequeathed its price range mannequin with some additional computational chops like Deep Fusion this time round, wonderful particulars in low-light nonetheless come out muddier than they do on another telephones, and it has a behavior of underexposing and failing to precisely discover focus in marginal lighting. Most frustratingly, I proceed to run into the identical situation I had again in 2020, the place the Digicam app’s animations suggest it’s achieved taking a photograph earlier than it really is, leading to blurry outcomes should you transfer the cellphone too quickly.

Apple’s processing has a sure form of “type” that typically provides to a photograph with an nearly filter-like overly dramatic distinction, and it’s tough to shoot round typically. Whether or not as a result of Deep Fusion or one thing else, I did discover that dynamic vary on the brand new SE was a lot improved in comparison with the prior SE mannequin, nailing lighting in the identical approach your eye would possibly see it and which most cameras can’t.

I nonetheless desire the standard of Google’s picture processing on common, however there are undoubtedly instances the iPhone beats it, particularly should you’re capturing photographs with textual content in them. That contrasty processing helps there whereas avoiding the Pixel’s tendency for annoying HDR halos.

Must you purchase it?

The brand new, third gen, 2022 iPhone SE is an excellent mid-range cellphone, and I do suggest it, with caveats.

For one, the tiny, dated display screen is just going to be a much bigger drawback as time goes on. You would possibly like the thought of it or be used to it from an older cellphone, however the easy reality is apps are beginning to count on additional vertical area this cellphone simply doesn’t have. TikTok already looks like a cramped and uncomfortable expertise, and this drawback will solely ever construct on itself. Though Apple is in it for the lengthy haul relating to updates, 64GB of storage received’t minimize it over time, and I strongly suggest getting at the very least the 128GB mannequin, which suggests spending $480.

Extra importantly, should you’re coming from Android, you’ll want to think about the hidden prices related to this transition. This isn’t only a low-cost solution to attempt iOS; you’ll additionally want to purchase new charging cables and new apps and perceive that the brand new {hardware} doesn’t have the identical deep integrations for Google providers. Even easy issues like Android’s Fast Settings shortcut for Google TV/Android TV distant management aren’t obtainable right here. Altering groups imparts prices different than simply cash, and for a lot of of our readers, these prices can be too excessive.

Lastly, should you occur to desire Android (or just don’t care about software program), there are objectively higher Android telephones obtainable with options like larger, brighter, or smoother screens, and higher cameras. The $450 Google Pixel 5a is straightforward to suggest over the brand new iPhone SE, and even the Samsung Galaxy A53 (which we in any other case referred to as a downgrade in comparison with the A52) is a better option.

When you’re platform agnostic or simply need to see what utilizing an iPhone is like today, that is nonetheless a great cellphone at a great value, whose few drawbacks could be dismissed with somewhat planning (and somewhat extra cash). We don’t often converse on to iPhone homeowners right here at Android Police, however should you’ve been hanging onto an iPhone 8 or earlier ready for a reasonable long-haul cellphone, otherwise you’re merely a fan of the older design with the front-facing fingerprint sensor, the brand new 5G iPhone SE is the cellphone to get. However, should you’re simply questioning whether or not the grass is any greener in Apple’s pasture, do not forget that issues all the time appear somewhat nicer from the surface trying in.

Purchase it if:

  • You need to attempt iOS on the relative low-cost.
  • You desire a long-lasting cellphone with few bells and whistles
  • A small, outdated display screen received’t trouble you.

Don’t purchase it if:

  • The notification state of affairs, getting all of your apps from the App Retailer, and never with the ability to change many default apps will trouble you (amongst different options you’ll surrender).
  • You desire a larger and higher display screen or a extra versatile digital camera setup.
  • You may’t spend the additional for 128GB+ — It’s mandatory for long-term use.


Q: How does the Pixel 5a evaluate to the iPhone SE?

The Pixel 5a might have a slower chipset, however it’s a greater cellphone in principally each different approach. The display screen is greater and nicer, base storage is 128GB, it has a extra versatile digital camera setup that features a excellent ultra-wide, exquisitely good battery life, and among the best variations of Android you may get. Google’s automated name screening, which just about totally eliminates spam calls, is sort of a motive by itself to purchase the cellphone. For simply $20 extra, you get a a lot, significantly better cellphone within the Pixel 5a, although it will not get updates as lengthy. (There’s even a headphone jack, which Apple would not have.)

Q: How does the Galaxy A53 evaluate to the iPhone SE?

Samsung’s A53 can also be $20 extra, however the story is analogous. It has a much bigger 6.7″ and smoother 120Hz OLED show, 128GB base storage, and it runs Android. Samsung packs the cameras in right here, and solely two of them are any good, however it’s nonetheless a extra versatile configuration than Apple’s single-camera setup. Samsung additionally affords 4 years of OS updates and 5 years of safety updates, which approaches Apple’s dedication.

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