iPhone SE3 Review: A Genius On One Side, A Freak On the Other

iPhone SE3 Review: A Genius On One Side, A Freak On the Other

  • What is the concept of $550 for A15chip?

  • Classic is not the same as outdated, and vice versa

  • iPhoneย SE is the last oasis for small screen lovers?

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Not too long ago, we naively thought that the so-called "iPhone SE" referred to the "iPhone Special Edition", the same as Samsung's "Fans Edition", to commemorate those models that had a special place in the brand's history - such as the iPhone 5s, iPhone 8, and Galaxy Note 7.

But since Samsung has used FE models as a way to lower prices and clear inventory in recent years, the identity of the so-called "SE" has come into question. In addition, Apple already has enough older models to fill the low-price market, and the rationale for the iPhonh-low gap" is starting to fail to stand up to scrutiny.ย 

You know, in order to exhaust the existing old chips, Apple has started to give the usual only need embedded system in the display stuffed A13 chip and 64GB flash memory. iPhone SE for Apple's significance, seems to be left only the role of inventory clearance.ย 

But Apple's 2022 release of the iPhone SE ((referred to below as the SE3) seems to dismiss our view of the SE series again. There's no other reason: Apple has crammed the most powerful A15 chip in the iPhone lineup to date into this most unassuming of phones.

Many people may wonder, give an iPhone 8 to replace the A15, and then sell it to the price of $550, such a phone will really be bought? Does this mean that Apple has also started hardware stacking? Does using the iPhone 8, instead of the iPhone 12 or iPhone XR, as the blueprint for the iPhoneย SE mean that Apple has given up on the small screen phone route?ย 

Let's answer the first question: Is anyone really going to buy the "iPhone 8" with A15?


  1. What is the concept of $550 for A15chip?

Looking at the data from e-commerce platforms, there are still a lot of users who shelled out money for the iPhone SE. And after getting the SE3, I can really understand why someone would shell out money for an A15 chip. Although the iPhone SE is the only phone Apple is currently selling that is not a full-screen design, it is also the only phone that uses Touch ID to unlock the phone after Apple has clarified the Face ID route.ย But from the core "experience", the iPhone SE and other iPhone is not much different.ย Everyone is running the same iOS 15.4. The iPhone SE can run all the software that the iPhone 13 Pro Max can run, and it's even possible that the iPhone SE is more responsive because of the lower resolution.

Taking myself as an example, even though I haven't used an iPhone with Touch ID since the iPhone X, switching to the SE3 was only a little uncomfortable for the first half hour:ย like the system control panel should be pulled up from the bottom instead of Pull down from the upper right corner, or the iPhone SE cannot be attached to the suspended MagSafe charger, and only the main camera does not have an ultra-wide angle.

But let's not forget that after iPhone 11, that is, after Apple pushed the so-called "Digital XX", Apple started to divest dependence of new features on focused hardware, and instead left all these features to digital algorithms. We may not have understood Apple's purpose at the time, but on the iPhone SE, with the powerful performance of the A15, Apple managed to take the iPhone SE's hardware performance to a whole new level.ย 

For score enthusiasts, GeekBench scores of 1733/4733 are enough to put the iPhone SE in the performance category. In the more realistic and informative gaming tests, the speculative "low-resolution advantage" also makes the iPhone SE a decent iOS "gaming phone", which must be perfect for those who are ready to switch to the Android camp, but can not leave the iOS platform data dual users.ย 

Looking back, doesn't the iPad mini, which is regarded as an artifact for playing games in class, also use a 60Hz screen?ย But here I also agree that the 4.7-inch screen is too small: I have relatively large fingers, and by putting two thumbs towards the screen, I have blocked nearly half of the display area of the screen. If Apple can use the iPhone 8 Plus as a template to build the iPhone SE, I believe it will be more popular.

Using the iPhone 8 instead of the 8 Plus as a template also brings up another issue - the iPhone SE is an extremely rare single-camera phone in the $550 price range. No ultra-wide angle, no telephoto, no macro or even depth-of-field camera. A simple 12-megapixel wide-angle camera and an A15 chip, that's all the iPhone SE has in terms of camera.ย 

So relying on the A15 alone, how does the iPhone SE's wide-angle camera perform? My evaluation can be summed up in two words: surprise, regret.ย 

First, the A15 chip gives the iPhone SE a more natural HDR effect. Whether shooting in the daytime or at night, the background and mid-ground light and dark processing are more realistic, and the false brightness at the edges that is common in HDR photos taken by general cell phones is less likely to occur. In terms of details, whether it is the smearing of the edges of the picture, the saturation of greenery colors and the white balance of buildings, the iPhone SE does a very good job. Even though the iPhone SE does not have a depth of field camera, the close up shots and background blur effect are excellent.ย 

In addition, the iPhone SE also has a "bad thing into a good thing" advantage: because the lens design is too "retro", the iPhone SE in the mirror reflection phenomenon control is obviously much better than the iPhone 12 Pro. But on the other hand, the iPhone SE's shortcomings are also very obvious, and even the most powerful chip can not perfectly fill the non-existent pixels. Even if the A15 image performance is strong, the absence of the ultra-wide angle lens still can't make up for it. You know, even the iPhone 12 mini is equipped with a super wide-angle camera that allows the phone to have more freedom in composition, but that's a pipe dream for the iPhone SE.ย 

On top of that, even though the A15 gives the iPhone SE access to the camera's color mode that only the iPhone 13 series has, for some reason Apple actually didn't bring night mode to the iPhone SE. It's true that live photos do simulate long exposures, but the iPhone SE's camera is still too bland compared to true ultra-wide angle long exposure photos. If you don't use a third-party camera app, bringing it to sweepย QR codesย may beย the only job it will have for the rest of its life.ย 


  1. Classic is not the same as outdated, and vice versa

In addition to the camera, if there are any disadvantages of the iPhone SE that the A15 chip can't save, the 4.7-inch 60Hz screen, or this set of body similar to the iPhone 8, is also a problem that the iPhone SE can't avoid. I don't mean to say that the iPhone 8 is not good-looking or classic. In my opinion, good design can transcend time: even though it may lag behind in terms of functionality, aesthetically, "classics don't go out of style". For example, the black iPhone 5, also known as a classic, I believe no one will deny that it is a classic, good-looking phone.

The reason why the iPhone 5 as a lead-in, on the one hand, because the iPhone 8 double-sided glass structure is as classic as the iPhone 5; on the other hand, the 2022 iPhone SE color in my opinion also has some "homage" meaning: iPhone SE the official name of the color called The official name of the iPhone SE color is "Midnight", which is different from the dark sky gray or charcoal black of the past, and will show a hint of dark blue in bright light, similar to the iPhone 5, which is a slightly bluish dark gray. Of course, if you have experienced the iPhone 5 era, this time you can rest assured: this time the iPhone SE bezel will not fall off the paint, to ensure your satisfaction.

However, this screen is not necessarily to your satisfaction: although the iPhone SE PPI is not low, while the LCD screen does not have the problem of white text on a black background edge is not sharp, 4.7-inch small screen is 60Hz refresh rate "seems smooth", but after adapting to the large screen, 4.7 inch small screen whether text output or web browsing, people feel a little unable to spread. Not to mention the short side of the resolution of only 750P. What is the concept of 750P? The iPhone SE can't even play 1080P video 1:1 in landscape, and the contrast ratio of 1400:1 in 2021 is a bit below par.ย 

But unlike what we all think, although the iPhone SE is about the same size as the iPhone 8, the battery is indeed a bit bigger. However, thanks to the 4.7-inch 750P "extreme power saving" screen and the ultra-low power consumption of A15, this iPhone SE still has enough power when I get home from work, and this is still the case when I commute to work with GPS on my bike, and generally commuting will not affect the taxi from work. Of course, this is the case of not playing games at work. If you really want to use the iPhone SE as your only primary phone, it's still necessary to have a mobile power supply ready.ย 

At the same time, like the iPhone 13 mini and other small-screen iPhones, the iPhone SE also has what I call a "passive power-saving" feature: because the iPhone SE's screen is so small, playing games and watching videos with it is not a good experience, and you can't help but "actively reduce" the time you use it.ย For example, during this time with the iPhone SE, I got back to the habit of reading paper books.

I know it sounds a bit ridiculous, but just like when preparing for an exam, many people will buy a "non-smartphone" that can use WhatsApp, if you have the need to "kick the phone addiction", but daily life canโ€™t leaveย WhatsApp, then the iPhone SE is actually quite practical.ย 


  1. iPhone SE is the last oasis for small screen lovers?

Now that we have talked about the significance of the iPhone SE, we might as well push backwards from the performance of the SE to see why Apple launched the iPhone SE, or what can the iPhone SE bring to Apple?ย First, there's no doubt that the iPhone SE can help Apple "deal with" the A15 inventory. Since this year's iPad Air did not launch a new processor, but switched to the M1 chip, the "A16" is likely to be unveiled with the new iPhone at this fall's conference. According to the calculation of the product production cycle, the new generation of iPhone should have been finalized.ย 

At this point we go back and look at the products Apple is selling: iPhone 13 will stop selling the Pro series in order to make way for the iPhone 14 series; and the iPhone 12 and iPhone 11, which also use full-screen design, may also be synchronized off the shelves in order to make enough price difference. At this point, the only models still on sale with the A15 chip should be the iPhone 13 digital series, the iPhone SE and the iPad mini.ย 

Considering that the old Apple will lower the price of the old phone after the new phone goes on sale, it is likely that the official pricing of iPhone SE will be lowered from $550 to below $450, so as to better complete the work of inventory clearance. In addition, the iPhone SE as the "last small screen flagship", can also meet the needs of some small screen fans. But in my opinion, the 2022 iPhone SE can hardly be called a successful SE model, rather than the third generation SE,ย it should be an upgraded version of the second generation SE.ย 

Although Apple can use the A15 to enhance the iPhone SE experience so that the iPhone SE can catch up with the iPhone 13 series in terms of wide-angle shooting and gaming performance, even the A15 chip cannot make up for the regret left by the lack of an ultra wide-angle camera, 1080P screen and high-capacity battery.ย 

Of course, according to the practice of the iPhone, as soon as the phone begins to drop in price, these shortcomings just mentioned will become "feeling less obvious", and the "obsolete" iPhone SE, will also "arrive in the hands of its loyal fans".ย 

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