Review: Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple, this will not do!

Apple's new iPhone SE is like time travelling - in the wrong direction.

Published 4 April 2022 - 8:00 am
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Peter Gotschalk

Apple has upgraded iPhone SE from 2020 with the new, fast A15 Bionic processor, which is also found in the latest iPhone 13 models, making the new iPhone SE the fastest smartphone in the mid-range. No other phone gives users this much performance for the money.

Plus, the little iPhone finally gets 5G. But not much else is new, as Apple is keeping everything else the same – including the screen, camera and design – so the new iPhone SE (2022), like its predecessor, looks a lot like the 2017 iPhone 8.

The old-fashioned design was our main criticism when we tested the 2020 iPhone SE, because even then the screen in particular, at just 4.7 inches and with big black bars both top and bottom, was a hindrance to usability.

In fact, we must admit that we find it downright shocking that Apple is launching a new smartphone in 2022 with a design and specifications for screen and camera that are now a full five years old.

iPhone SE (2022)
Apple’s new “budget mobile” comes in three colours – Midnight, Starlight and (Product)Red. (Photo: Apple)

I guess you could say it’s a bit like if a car manufacturer like Audi or BMW put a brand new, modern engine in a body from the 1980s or 90s. The new engine is efficient and the car can go lightning fast, but you’ll have to make do with an old-fashioned car radio with cassette player (or maybe CD player, if you’re lucky), and a roadmap for navigation instead of GPS.

This will not do, Apple!

iPhone SE (2022) and iPhone 13 Pro Max side by side. The difference in screen size is huge. Even iPhone 13 mini has more than twice the resolution of iPhone SE (2022). (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

Time travel in the wrong direction

Try to close your eyes and think back to 2017. Donald J. Trump is president of the United States, while Emmanuel Macron is inaugurated as president of France. The tech world is stunned by the Nintendo Switch, and Apple launches both the iPhone 8 in September and the all-new iPhone X a month later.

The Apple iPhone 8 was the third version of a mobile design that first saw the light of day in 2014 with the iPhone 6, and it’s exactly this design that Apple is sticking with here in 2022 with the new iPhone SE.

The phone thus comes with a curved aluminium frame, physical home button with built-in Touch ID on the front and a glass back. It is also dust and water resistant (IP67 certified), while the camera consists of a single lens located in the top left corner of the back.

Old-fashioned, but not nostalgic!

The screen is just 4.7 inches and has large black bars at the top and bottom, which hinders usability. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

As mentioned, the screen measures just 4.7 inches and has a screen resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels, which of course makes the actual working area significantly smaller than we’re used to in 2022. Even Apple’s smallest iPhone 13 mini has a screen area of 2340 x 1080 pixels, which is at least twice as much.

As far as the camera is concerned, prepare for a trip to the time machine, too. There’s no optical zoom and no ultra-wide angle, and when the camera is challenged – with close-ups, backlit subjects or poorly lit subjects, for example – the results aren’t as good as we’re used to from the latest iPhone models.

Using the iPhone SE (2022) on a daily basis is simply like going on a journey through time in the wrong direction.

Performance and features

There are only a few points where the iPhone SE (2022) is up to date, and that’s first of all when it comes to Apple’s wild A15 Bionic processor, which is also in all iPhone 13 models. Moreover, the latest iPhone SE comes with iOS 15, but previous models can also be upgraded to the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, so it doesn’t weigh quite so heavily on the scales.

iPhone SE takes good snapshots, and the camera will be adequate for most users. But if lighting conditions are difficult, the camera struggles a bit. Here’s a subject photographed against the light with iPhone SE. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)

But the performance is, as expected, top notch. No other smartphone on the market currently comes close to the Apple phones based on A15 Bionic, and our benchmark tests of the iPhone SE (2022) demonstrate this with all the clarity you need. Everything runs lightning fast, even big, heavy games like Asphalt 9 and Into the Dead 2, so if you want a retro-looking phone that can still run circles around more expensive Android top phones like the brand-new Motorola Edge 30 Pro, the iPhone SE (2022) might be a good choice for you.

Although the camera is low budget, the processor’s more advanced image processing means the camera exposes with greater precision and colour reproduction is very natural. (Photo: Peter Gotschalk)


But everyone else should stay away. After all, the new iPhone SE (2022) isn’t even particularly cheap. If you’re willing to spend just a little more, you can buy the new iPhone 13 mini, which has all the same advantages as the iPhone SE, plus a contemporary design with a better camera and a bigger screen with much higher resolution.

In the past few years there have been many cool products from the tech giant in Cupertino – not least the blazingly fast products based on Apple’s own processor technology – but the iPhone SE is a giant step backwards in terms of lack of innovation. A decidedly lazy product that Apple should never have put their name on.

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

We think

The world's fastest mobile processor. And it's finally got 5G. Design with roots back to 2014, including microscopic display and outdated camera.

2 thoughts on “Apple iPhone SE (2022)”

  1. The people who buy the SE are not bothered by the design, screen size or home button. They are actually the things that attract them. Tech experts do know their stuff but have always got this wrong. Very wrong. Now watch it sell in millions.

  2. Wow. I have the SE because it’s as small as a new phone gets. I don’t care about anything else. If they still made 3.5in ones I would really prefer that. Review the product for the product and the actual market for that product, not just what you want.

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