Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) review: A powerful phone in a retro compact design

The Cupertino-based technology leader, earlier this year, launched the new iPhone SE (3rd generation) and it hit Indian stores in mid-March.

The Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) comes in three stores – 64GB, 128GB and 256GB – for Rs 43,900, Rs 48,900 and Rs 58,900 respectively.

No prize for guessing that the new iPhone SE 2022 series looks exactly like its predecessor, which by the way is inspired by the iPhone 6 (& 6S) series of 2014. But it comes loaded with Apple’s most powerful mobile chipset A15 Bionic, as seen in the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models .

Do you deliver goods? Let’s check it out.

Design, quality and presentation
As mentioned earlier, it will be very difficult to distinguish the new iPhone SE from the previous one, in terms of external appearance.

As you can see in the slideshow above, it has a slim and compact design with curved corners, thick edges, and the brand’s Touch ID at the base. But the similarity ends there, as the 3rd generation model is better in all aspects.

The materials used in the device are environmentally friendly and more durable than ever. Some key components are made from recycled materials. The rare earth elements, tungsten in the Taptic drive and sound magnets are 100% recycled.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation). Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

Even the tin in the main logic board solder is 100 percent recycled. Furthermore, with the redesign of the packaging, Apple has managed to get rid of the outer plastic casing, and the overall device and box remain free of many harmful substances such as arsenic, mercury, brominated flame retardants (BFR), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and beryllium.

Also, the virgin wood fibers used in the retail box are sourced from responsibly managed forests and 35 percent of the iPhone’s plastic components are from recycled materials.

Another first for the iPhone SE (2022) is that it is the world’s first to produce commercial-grade low-carbon aluminum on an industrial scale outside of the lab without directly creating any carbon emissions during the smelting process. Aluminum is produced using the innovative ELYSIS carbon-free smelting technology.

Along with the aerospace-grade aluminum frame, the new iPhone SE’s all-glass body, front and back panels alike, is protected by Ceramic Shield, which is described as the strongest glass cover on a phone in the industry.

Also, the device comes with an IP67 rating, which means it can stay underwater up to 1 meter (about 3.2 feet) for nearly 30 minutes.

It features a 4.7-inch Retina HD display with True Tone display technology and a wide color display (P3). It supports a peak brightness of 625 nits, Haptic Touch and an oleophobic and anti-fingerprint coating. I didn’t have any pressing issues while viewing content on my iPhone outdoors, but I have to say, in direct sunlight, I had to shift a bit to read the messages.

Also, the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the home button works like a charm and I haven’t had any problems of some sort while unlocking the screen.

As mentioned earlier, the Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) is powered by the A15 Bionic chipset. It has a powerful Hexa-Core CPU, the fastest CPU in a smartphone, with two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores. Add to that, the 16-core neural engine is capable of 15.8 trillion operations per second. This will enable machine learning calculations for third-party applications to be performed faster than ever before.

This new Apple device promises seamless performance, whether that’s opening and switching apps, loading and turning on the camera and other everyday chores. Also, the phone supports all games not only the generic games found on the Apple Store, but also those available on Apple Arcade such as Gear.Club Stradale and more.

I should point out that while switching between apps using the home button, which was pretty normal when I had an iPhone 6, I feel a little weird now. Those who are used to the full touch screen on iPhone X and later models, or even those who use Android phones, will take some time to get used to the user interface, but rest assured, the iPhone SE (3rd generation) will serve you long.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) CPU performance score on single-core and multi-core (left) and GPU performance score (right) tests on the Geekbench app. Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

It should be noted that the iPhone 6S series, launched in 2015 with iOS 9, received iOS 15 in 2021. If this is taken as an indication, Apple is likely to provide iOS software support for five to six years. The new iPhone SE model.

As far as battery life is concerned, iPhone SE (3rd generation) can last an entire day, under normal usage such as surfing the web, answering phones, messaging, photo session and gaming sessions lasting an average of 20 minutes.

The more you indulge in longer gaming sessions or even stream multimedia content on OTT (Over-The-Top) apps on cellular data, the phone’s power will drain faster. I suggest users download content from OTT apps through Wi-Fi at home and stream it while traveling to the office or back home on a bus or other mass transit. This will greatly help in extending the life of the battery.

The Apple iPhone SE supports a charging speed of up to 20W and can charge up to 50 percent in 30 minutes. It also supports wireless charging (Qi standard), but unfortunately it cannot be charged with a MagSafe charger.

Also, the new iPhone SE supports 5G, but here in India, there is no infrastructure to support ultra-fast internet speed. The Indian government is expected to provide details of the 5G spectrum auction in June, and may expect the cellular operator to roll out commercial 5G service by the end of 2022 or early 2023.

The iPhone SE comes with a new 12MP (ƒ/1.8) wide camera as we saw in its predecessor. But thanks to the A15 Bionic, the rear can do more and support photography-enabled features like Smart HDR 4, Photographic Styles, Deep Fusion and Portrait Mode similar to the iPhone 13 series.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) camera sample. Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

For the unaware, Smart HDR 4 uses smart segmentation to apply different adjustments to color, contrast, and noise to the subject against the background. No matter how difficult the lighting condition is, the camera ensures that the faces of the subjects are correctly exposed. Add to that, it can display people in the same photo individually, with different adjustments optimized for lighting and skin tone for each individual.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) camera sample. Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

As you can see in the photo samples, the new iPhone SE (3rd generation) does an excellent job of processing flower colors.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) camera sample. Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

Although I miss the ability to take macro shots of the iPhone 13 Pro series, the iPhone SE’s deep fusion feature ensures that we get very good photos at close range.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) camera sample. Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

Even with just one sensor, the iPhone SE was able to capture a lot of areas around the Nandi Hills in a single frame.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) camera sample. Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

Although there is no dedicated night mode, photos with the help of flash turn out to be fine.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) camera sample captured at night with LED flash on. Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

The primary rear camera also supports slow-motion video and can record 4K videos.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) camera sample. Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

On the front, it features a 7-megapixel FaceTime camera capable of recording videos up to 1080p.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) camera sample. Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

Portrait mode on both the front and back camera of the iPhone SE (3rd generation) is convenient. I am happy to discover the tip. In the photo, the camera did a good job of defining the space around the hair on the top and face of the background.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) camera sample. Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

Final thoughts:
Apple has kept the popular old iPhone 6 design of the iPhone SE (2n Gen) at the back as well but it comes with the latest A15 Bionic chipset and superior build quality. Performance-wise, it runs as smoothly as any premium phones, but the tiny phone has its limitations in terms of the smaller screen size.

Yes, a few years ago, a mobile with a 4.7-inch screen and a thick bezel, it was ordinary. At that time, the iPhone 6 and then 6S were Apple’s best-selling models around the world.

But a lot of things have changed since 2014-2015. Now, it looks weak against most current phones. Most of the devices, budget and premium, come in the 6.1-inch and 6.9-inch screen size range.

Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation). Credit: DH Photo / KVN Rohit

This new Apple phone model is recommended for niche consumers, who want to own compact phones, but don’t want to compromise on performance.

And despite having only one camera on the back, the iPhone SE (3rd generation) does a pretty good job of getting beautiful photos in both normal and low light conditions.

Also, this is a good option for people who are planning to move from Android to iOS and make sure that the latter will serve you longer, more than double that of the former, in terms of software support. Also, it comes with a 5G modem as well.

If you want a bigger screen, the iPhone 11 and 12 are worth taking the first step into the Apple ecosystem.

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