iPhone SE (2020) review



Two-minute review

The iPhone SE 2020 is built around one goal: to create a new iPhone for less money than ever, and it achieves that well. For just $399 / £419 / AU$749 you can have a brand-new handset from Apple – it’s one of the best iPhones ever created and you can now get your hands on one.

The design of the phone is going to be familiar to anyone that’s used an iPhone recently – unless you’ve not held a handset from Apple since 2013 then you’ll have seen this 4.7-inch frame before, complete with bezels top and bottom and a home button with fingerprint scanner built in.

It’s now seen as the ‘smaller’ iPhone form factor given the all-screen designs of the more recent models, and it’s both more lightweight and pocketable than anything from the iPhone 11 range.

It’s pleasingly water resistant, but does have some drawbacks thanks to the older design: it lacks a headphone jack at the bottom, and because the display technology is slightly dated (as it comes from the iPhone 8) it can suffer in bright light when you’re trying to watch videos or the like.

Apple might have stuck with the same design as the iPhone 8, but the innards are much improved – notably the new A13 Bionic chipset inside, which adds speed nearly everywhere and really does improve the performance over the older 4.7-inch models. It’s not quite at the level of the iPhones launched last year, but it’s not far off.

hat A13 chipset has improved the camera performance too, despite no discernible change to the specs of the sensor since the iPhone 8 (there’s just a single lens on the iPhone SE 2020). 

It takes decent, bright photos that will please most people, although it doesn’t quite offer the same color reproduction or clarity as the iPhone 11 Pro Max, for example.

The portrait mode doesn’t work as well as on phones that pack a second, depth-sensing sensor for precise bokeh effects , and as a result you can be left with some odd-looking fringing around the edges of subjects. But overall the camera – and especially for the price – takes impressive pictures in most scenarios.


Battery life is probably one of the biggest issues we found with the iPhone SE 2020 – it’s not going to easily last you a day unless you’re a particularly light and sedate user. 

Given the number of power-hungry apps available that will make the most of all that power provided by the A13 chipset, we would have liked to have seen at least an all-day battery in there, even for the lower price.

However, don’t let that detract from the fact that the iPhone SE 2020 follows on from its predecessor by bringing you a new iPhone, with not a lot of compromise, for less money than you might expect.

While it doesn’t hit many heights in terms of power or performance, it more than offsets that by being the cheapest iPhone Apple has ever launched while still packing refined and useful hardware, making the new iPhone SE a splendid option for those either on a budget or just wanting to find an easy route into the Apple ecosystem. 

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