Since the launch, Apple products (especially the iPhone ones) have always been on the premium slot along with a huge price tag for the mass people. But, the recent pressure from the android giants like Xiaomi, Huawei, Samsung, or even Google’s Pixel devices has made them realize that they need to step up into the game. There had been ongoing rumors about a budget-friendly iPhone device for a long time, but when Apple officially announced the new iPhone SE 2020 back in April, it got me excited (by a lot !!!).
In this post, we’re going to have a more in-depth review of the new iPhone SE 2020 (Don’t get confused with the iPhone SE 2016) and see how much it stacks up over its android counterparts at just $399.
The unboxing experience is pretty much “Apple”ish and rather straight forward in my opinion. There aren’t any “little surprises” that many of the mobile phone manufacture. The Package will have a standard box, some documentations, two apple logo stickers, the iPhone itself, a sim ejector pin, a power adapter with a lightning cable. I was surprised (even a bit overwhelmed) to find an EarPod with a lightning connector and a bit sad to see they only included only a 5W charger brick even though the phone supports up to 18W of fast charging.
I guess some corners have to be cut to compete alongside other brands with this price tag.
The Design & Build:
On the instance you take out the phone on your hand you will sense the small form factor yet the premium feelings this phone is having. It’s been a true marvel in the phone industries that how much the sizes of the phones have grown in the past 3years. Even the 5.5inch display (which, once was thought to be impossible) seems to be on the smaller side of the spectrum nowadays. However, this small size along with a balanced weight distribution will let you have a refreshing change against the current trend.
The body frame is made up of fully recycled aluminium, which is a good thing considering cost, environment as well as weight balancing. The front and back both come with a gorilla glass 5 with the front being coated with oleophobic coating and the back with a glossy finish. The phone has a dimension of 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm; having a weight of only 148g (which is pretty low considering recent years). The phone is rated for IP67 dust and water resistance.
Looking from the front you’ll find the display, the touch ID. On the upper side, there is an earpiece alongside some sensors and the front-facing camera. The good thing is the earphone can work as a stereo speaker. I won’t mind you if you think of it as an iPhone 8 due to its shocking similarities. The only difference you can make for the white variant where the front glass is now fully back from being just white. Looking at the back, you can find the single-camera solution. How is the performance? You ask. In one word, IT IS GOOD! I’ll be covering more in the camera section, don’t worry. There is a small camera hump though, but it is ever so slightly so I don’t think that will be a problem. Also, you’ll see the logo placement has been moved to the center (It was slightly offset to the upper portion in iPhone 8) to match it with the recent iPhone releases.
Viewing from the left you’ll find the Apple’s signature, silent slider button, then volume keys, and the network bands. Viewing from the right, you will have the power button, network bands, and the Simcard slot. The good this about this is now it has the support for dual nano sim or e-sim which in my opinion is a good touch.
Going back to the front again, you can see this device is Sporting a 4.7inch IPS “Retina” LCD Screen from 2017 with a 16:9 aspect ratio leaving a big chin and forehead. It might be very distracting for most of the users now that most of us are getting used to an almost bezel-less display nowadays, but it also comes with some advantages like better grip and no accidental touch in the side of the screen. Also, the display will not feature any force touch (replaced by long touch across devices), to cut the pricing probably. The display resolution of 750*1334 pixels which means a PPI density of just above 300. This low resolution on paper might seem a bummer, as most of the android devices over $ 200 features 1080p display. But being Apple, they have given you the best 750p panel out there in my knowledge and I think this was the least of my concern.
Viewing from any side you will find no headphone jack. No thanks to Apple for removing maybe one of the best inventions from yesterdecade. But it is what it is.
With the introduction of the iPhone SE 2020 edition, we’re once again welcoming our trusty old touch ID, causing a huge forehead and a huge chin area on the front. But the touch ID works just as quickly if not better than the face ID which has not been included.
As similar as it might look like its older sibling, the iPhone 8 from 2017, the similarity ends with the internals. The internal has been renewed with an Apple A13 Bionic SOC, a flagship chipset from 2019 which also been used on the iPhone 11.
Just take a quick look at all the specs:
|Chipset||Apple A13 Bionic ( Built on 7nm+ Technology)|
|CPU||Hexa-core (2 Powerful 2.65GHz + 4 Efficient 1.8GHz cores)|
|GPU||Apple 4 Core GPU|
|Sim & Memory Card Slot||Dual Sim Support (With nano and e-sin)|
Memory card slot Not available
|Internals||3 variants. 64GB, 128GB, 256GB all with 3GB ram|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth: 5.0, A2DP|
Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Dual-band & Hotspot SupportGPS : A-GPS/ GLONASS/GALILEOOthers: NFC Support, No Radio
|Sensors||gyroscopic, compass, accelerometer, proximity, barometric|
|USB Connection||2.0 With Lighting Connector|
The Speakers speak for themselves. Even most of the 6’’ androids don’t sound as good as them. Cellular reception was also good. Our main complaint was the battery though, which is only 1821 mAh. This is below standard nowadays as 2500mAh is the benchmark in the industry. But, this thing supports fast charging. Apple is claiming 50% of full charge within 30mins. And this has got support for wireless charging too so charging over any Starbucks breakfast is possible.
Even though the bench-marking score doesn’t represent the real-life performance or experience, but it gives an idea and comparison with other devices about how powerful this chipset is both in terms of CPU, GPU & Storage. We’ve used some benchmarking tools and the result are pretty much like below. Also, we’re including the iPhone SE 2020, iPhone SE 2016, and Google’s Pixel 3a for comparison. Have a look:
|iPhone SE 2020||465,000 (Version 8.1.0)|
|iPhone SE 2016||170,000 (Version 8.1.0)|
|Pixel 3a||180,000 (Version 7.1.0)|
Judging by the scores we can see that iPhone SE 2020 is approximately 3 times faster than google pixel 3a or iPhone SE 2016 model. But the overall experience depends on software and hardware optimization more than raw processing power, which Apple is renowned for.
Day to Day Performance
The day to day performance of the iPhone SE 2020 is very good. All the horsepower form the A13 bionic chip and 3GB of ram just blazes through the iOS 13.4. Currently, no software platform is as optimized as the iOS thanks to Apple’s dedication and partly its marketing strategy to not flooding the market with thousands of devices every year. One thing Apple does superbly is their updating scheme. Even the 2016 launched iPhone SE version is rocking the latest iOS 13 so we’re hopeful the new iPhone SE 2020 will follow the same and receive updated till 2024.
Again the A13 bionic comes to rescue and the gameplay is buttery smooth. Too bad that the screen can’t fully utilize all the raw power form the chipset and there is still some headroom left. But the battery life takes a big hit and you’ll not be able to do any gaming more than 3-4hrs. Straight.
Heating and Thermals
The phone stayed cool most of the time and only became slightly warm after a long heavy gaming session.
Just like stated earlier, the battery life is mediocre and you’ll need to charge the device by the end of every day under moderate use. However, the standby time is outstanding, much to be expected from Apple. Its standby time is around 20-30% higher than the iPhone 8 due to its newer power-efficient A13 chip which is built on 7nm+ node.
The new SE 2020 features a Single back Camera having 12mega pixels and a single front camera with 7MP. Don’t get fooled by the numbers though as this camera is one of the best we’ve seen from any android (having 64MP or so) we have seen at this price range. This camera is exactly the same as the iPhone 8 (or the iPhone XR) unit with a superior Image processing algorithm from iPhone 11. So, It acts more like a hybrid camera system. As expected, It produces a better image quality than the iPhone XR but lacks behind the triple camera setup from the iPhone 11 only by a few margins though.
They are sharp, with good HDR, Color Accuracy, is not good though as it doesn’t have a Zoom lens, and its more than good for uploading your social media photos.
Due to an older camera than the iPhone 11, the low light photo is good but not as crisp as expected. Then again, you can’t complain much.
Extreme Dark Photo
Sadly no night mode is present as of May 2020 so Don’t Expect much.
As it’s a single camera system, there is no depth sensor, so the images are purely dependent on software to make the bokeh, which works most of the time (95% in my opinion) but there are times when some fringing issue occurs. Also, there is no chance of taking object portrait photos due to the lack of that depth sensor.
Apple has always been the king when it comes to video mode, and this new iPhone SE doesn’t disappoint. It can record videos up to 4k @ 60fps, 30fps and 24fps for that cinematic effect. Not to mention the awesome optical video Stabilization feature and smart HDR to bring out the tiniest details from the shadows. The slow-motion capabilities are also great at 120fps and 240fps @ 1080p. Furthermore, you can record stereo sound with it.
I’m attaching a video made by Arun from Mrwhosetheboss where he has given you a complete idea about the camera and made and wonderful comparison with its siblings.
The Goods & The Bads:
Now that we’ve come to the end of the review, there are some key points to be made to sum it all up. So here are the goods & the bads Respectively:
- Best in-hand experience for those who have small palms.
- Latest flagship-level performance at a budget.
- Arguably the best Camera in this price segment.
- Tested & reliable Apple ecosystem.
- Longlasting Software support by Apple.
- Good Standby time.
- No face ID (but makes up with the touch ID).
- Low-resolution 16:9 display with No AMOLED.
- Somewhat old design.
- Battery life is not suitable for heavy usage.
- No 3D touch.
- No headphone jack.
Actually there are so many good things to say for this phone to say the bad ones just fade away pretty quickly.
Why (and how) This Phone Exists?
This phone is very unlikely of the Apple we used to know. But, this means that the industry is forcing them to change to work in favor of us, the end clients. The main reason for this phone to exist is market competition. Apple has been losing a huge chunk of the population like college students or small-time moneymakers who just don’t have the money to go for the premium. Not to mention there is a huge audience (mostly elderly people who just can’t handle the big sized phones). So, I think this is a smart move by apple.
One thing to point out they managed to keep this price low by cutting of the R&D investment and repurposing the old hardware. Only a company like Apple can pull off these kinds of moves.
Similar competitors in the segment (Pixel 3a, Xiaomi, Huawei, and even the iPhone 8 refurbished )
There are still other options in this segment to go with like Pixel 3a, Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite, Samsung Galaxy s10e, etc. or even the iPhone 8 which goes around $ 300 from 3rd party seller.
Should You Get One?
If you are someone who is using a really old iPhone (like the 6s or 7) and want to move up to the latest spec, but don’t want to ruin the nostalgic experience you’ve had with the old ones, I say go with this one. Or, If you’re someone like me who just started out a job life and don’t want to spend a lot of money but still want to try out the apple ecosystem this is the go-to device for you.
If the ecosystem doesn’t bother you anyway my suggestion is to wait for the new upcoming pixel 4a and then make the decision.
But, all things considered, the new iPhone SE 2020 is one of the best phones for all the average Joe out there at just $399.
So guys, If you want to buy iPhone or Pixel 3A then check out the following deals here.
Also, if you are interested in Leather iPhone Case, have a look at this Leather iPhone Case Buying Guide