Lab test of the Apple iPhone SE (2022): small, but strong

Our detailed test

Apple has the precision of a Swiss watchmaker when it comes to unveiling its new iPhones. In any case, this applies to the flagship models, which are announced every year around the beginning of September. The Californian manufacturer, on the other hand, is less predictable when it comes to its SE range. The first iPhone SE was launched in March 2016. It then took four years before the iPhone SE 2020 was unveiled in April. Apple didn’t wait that long for the third generation, as the brand very recently announced the iPhone SE 2022.

We have been using it daily for a month now. Enough time for us to form an opinion about this atypical smartphone, all the more so since it has also had time to pass our Lab.

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Design and ergonomics

Do we really need to go back to the design of this new iPhone SE 2022? To last so long in a design in the world of mobile telephony is a miracle! But does that make sense in 2022? As surprising as it may seem, the reduced footprint and rounded lines remain effective even today. The production quality is excellent, with perfect finishes. So that it is very pleasant to hold and handle the device.

iPhone SE 2022 review
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Nevertheless, even if Apple has been able to create a timeless design for most of its small smartphones, there is still one point that can no longer be deceived: the screen occupancy rate, which hasn’t fallen an ounce since 2014. is therefore still framed by two large horizontal black bands. And if the bottom one can be justified by the integration of the Touch ID fingerprint reader – still just as practical – it’s hard to see why the top one is kept.

iPhone SE 2022 review
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We would have loved to see the iPhone SE 2022 adopt the design of the iPhone mini, offering a modern screen size in a size that’s still just as compact. But it will probably take a generation or two of SE for that to happen. As it stands, if you’ve bought the concept from previous iPhone SEs, you’ll be very happy with the build quality and ergonomics of this one.

screen

We won’t go into too much detail about the touchscreen of the SE 2022, as it does not evolve compared to the one already found on the SE 2020. It remains a 4.7 inch LCD display, for an HD definition of 750×1334 pixels and a density of 325 pixels per inch. The resolution is therefore equal to that of the iPhone 6. It remains sufficient with regard to the size of the screen. If you are familiar with these models, you already know what to expect. For others, know that with this screen you can easily consult all the web pages designed for mobile, social networks or even to manage emails. But if you have an attachment such as a PDF or an Excel table, the screen of the iPhone SE 2022 turns out to be uncomfortable. Similarly called games ordinaryif Candy Crush True Clash Royale, are fairly playable. For more ambitious titles, such as: Call of Duty mobile True League of Legends: Wild Riftyou quickly feel cramped on such a small screen.

Faced with our Lab’s probes, this display was extremely convincing, with a 594:5 contrast ratio and progressiveness in harmony. As is often the case with Apple, the panel is very well calibrated at the factory, providing color fidelity that approaches perfection. This is quite good, as the possibilities of manual adjustments are limited.

On the other hand, the IPS panel cannot compete with the AMOLED when it comes to directivity. The iPhone SE 2022 already loses 57% of its brightness at a viewing angle of 30° and even 76% at a viewing angle of 45°. As a reminder, the iPhone 13 sits at 23 and 56% respectively.

Screen definition

750×1334

Screen density

325 dpi

Contrast and Progressivity

Contrast ratio (:5)

594 :5

Light loss at 30° (in %)

57

Light loss at 45° (in %)

76

performances

The whole paradox of this tiny smartphone stems from the fact that it is as old-fashioned on the outside as it is resolutely modern on the inside. It contains nothing less than the A15 Bionic chip, Apple’s latest internal chip. This is the same high-end component found in the latest iPhone 13, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max.
It already worked wonders in these smartphones with equally large and well-defined screens and equipped with several photo modules. Needless to say, it doesn’t disappoint on the iPhone SE 2022 either. Fluency in menus and general navigation is never criticized, while the most demanding games and applications run perfectly here. † That’s not surprising, considering the SE 2022’s 720p HD display is less demanding than that of the brand’s larger models.

iPhone SE 2022 review
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This is exactly why we wonder whether this power boost is necessary for a smartphone like the iPhone SE 2022. Yes, without the shadow of a technical problem you can play a game Call of Duty mobileby PUBG Mobile or from League of Legends: Wild Rift† But these games are designed for bigger screens. Apple claims that the A15 Bionic also improves photo shooting and battery life. We will come back to these points later.

We still see a very good justification for the presence of this overpowered processor, and last but not least: the longevity of the smartphone. Apple’s reputation for tracking and updating its models is unmatched. And with such a chip on board, the iPhone SE 2022 will certainly remain eligible for iOS updates for a long time to come. It is not surprising that, faced with our very demanding performance test, it achieved the maximum points, just like its big brothers in the iPhone 13 series. It maintains perfect fluidity even for complex and extreme use.

A smartphone that performs all kinds of tasks as quickly as possible gets a 10/10

Complex usage performance

Extreme usage performance

Photo

The photo part of the iPhone SE 2022 does not change significantly compared to that of its predecessor. We therefore find a single wide-angle photo module, equivalent to 26 mm (f/1.8), in which a 12 megapixel sensor is integrated. However, if the components appear identical to those in the SE 2020, the new model will in theory benefit from the contribution of the A15 Bionic chip. The manufacturer promises that this chip enables better image processing. In use, the improvements are there, but quite subtle. In optimal lighting conditions, the device allows you to take well-shot photos, with a good level of detail and a colorimetry that sounds real.

iPhone SE 2022 review
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But we would have liked to benefit from more versatility, for example with a second ultra-wide-angle photo module. Likewise, there is no night mode in the game. The advantages of the A15 Bionic chip are reflected in the portrait mode, which in most cases offers a very correct rendering. The software processing compensates for the absence of multiple sensors to calculate depth and clearly define the subject. Low-light photos also benefit from the chip. But only the shots without movement offer a correct reproduction in low light. We also remained dissatisfied with the dynamics of the captured images: in gloomy weather with, for example, a very white cloudy sky, we regularly sat with a slightly underexposed subject in the foreground. However, a small click in the automatic image enhancement tool is usually enough to fix the problem.

In the end, even the iPhone SE 2022 can take beautiful photos in good light. However, if you have big needs and many photography requirements, its capabilities may not be right for you.

Sound quality

The iPhone SE 2022 ignores the connection: it is not really a surprise. Therefore, the easiest way to use headphones or earphones other than the included one is to opt for a Bluetooth model.

Like its predecessor, the new iPhone SE has two speakers. The audio quality remains average, but sufficient to follow a movie, for example. Our measurements showed the correct power at 69 dB and a frequency response in line with our expectations. The dip around 80 Hz is obvious, but we’ve seen worse, including on more expensive smartphones.

Maximum speaker power

69 dB

Communication

Small but strong, the smartphone has an up-to-date radio part with 5G, a first on an SE, WiFi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0. A very complete picture and for what is certainly the most compact 5G smartphone on the market.

We submitted it to our various Lab tests to get an overview of its possible shortcomings, especially in terms of sensitivity. The iPhone SE 2022 does well: on mobile networks, the sensitivity is very good, except for band 8 of 4G – a common defect. It is even excellent in 2G. The WiFi is also good quality, while the Bluetooth does the job.

Communication

This rating indicates the smartphone’s ability to transmit and receive regardless of the conditions (on 2G, 3G and 4G networks)

Wi-Fi Compatibility

a, b, g, n, ac, axe.

Autonomy

Apple never communicates about the capacity of the batteries present in its iPhone. Still, several repairers are quick to disassemble the brand’s smartphones as soon as they hit the market. We know from several concordant sources that the battery of the iPhone SE 2022 offers a capacity of 2018 mAh. This is slightly better than the 1821 mAh of the SE 2020. The manufacturer also promises that the A15 Bionic chip manages energy consumption better. In use, we actually see the best. In classic use, the set still remains a bit tight to get through a very long day. By removing the plug from the socket in the morning, it is charged again around 8 p.m. if you want to use it in the evening. Thanks to the measurements in the Lab, we were able to achieve a range of 9:49, an hour more than the previous generation.

Finally, like the vast majority of recent smartphones, the iPhone SE 2022 does not come with a power supply. In the box you will only find a Ligthning/USB-C cable. The device is also compatible with wireless charging and fast charging (18W). It took us 1 hour and 25 minutes to fully charge in our Lab. That’s significantly better than the 2020 model, which claimed 2:15 in the same exercise.

Autonomy duration

09:49:00

General

Memory busy

45.9 NL

Memory card slot

No

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