iPhone SE 2020 Review: small, powerful and retro

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.

iPhone SE is not an innovative smartphone, but it proposes the Apple formula in a new price range and with dimensions on hand.

iPhone SE 2020 review Review: small, powerful and retro

iPhone SE 2020 is probably the most particular smartphone released in the course of 2020. In a period in which the Android world is characterized by increasingly generous dimensions, ever higher prices and by the spasmodic search for true innovation, without finding it almost never, Apple has decided to focus on the past for his new phone.

In fact, we are faced with an iPhone 8 updated in hardware to 2020 standards, a solution that in the Android world would be short-lived but that works within the Apple ecosystem. The reason? There is actually more than one. From the nostalgic of Touch ID to those in search of a light and compact phone, up to those who just don’t want to switch to Android, iPhone SE meets the needs of a particular audience, who pays more attention to substance than technological innovation.

Retro design

iPhone SE 2020 is completely identical to iPhone 8. Looking at the Android world, or even the iPhone 11, the first thing to think about is that the lines are now old and no longer competitive with the current context. The reality, however, is very different, just look at the quantity of iPhone 8, 7 and 6 still in circulation, if not even iPhone 5.
Many Apple users, also considering the long software support provided by the American company, still use outdated devices today. iPhone SE is aimed primarily at them, at a user who is not interested in having a new generation design on his hands or who does not want to invest high amounts for an iPhone 11. Of course, it would be enough to switch to Android to have more modern lines at prices even lower, but there are many people linked to the Apple ecosystem, or more simply to iOS, and who do not intend to change.

Another type of audience for which iPhone SE has remained the only alternative of its kind are those who do not want large smartphones. In this respect, there are no alternatives in the Android world, some approach us, but iPhone SE is the only one that can really be used with one hand, male or female. Smartphone in hand, with your thumb you can cover the whole area of ​​the display without any problem, all with a very good grip, thanks also to the thickness of 7.3 mm.

For the rest, the design has remained the iconic one of the pre Face ID era, with the circular fingerprint reader at the bottom, thick edges above and below the screen, body in aluminium and glass of excellent quality.

Particularly not insignificant in this price range is the IP68 certification for resistance to liquids and dust. To underline the version (PRODUCT) RED, with the characteristic red colour, which gives a touch of personality more.

High level hardware

If nothing has changed externally from the past, the hardware has been upgraded to current standards internally. Apple has indeed chosen the A13 Bionic processor, the same that we saw in the iPhone 11 Pro Max review, one of the most powerful and best optimized mobile CPUs on the market. Made at 7 nm, it integrates six cores inside, two of which can reach 2.66 GHz and four instead of low consumption, while the GPU uses 4 cores.

The SoC also includes the Neural Engine to manage operations related to artificial intelligence. Then there are 3 GB of RAM and 64, 128 and 256 GB of internal memory, with a price respectively of 499, 549 and 669 euros.

Better to aim for the 128 GB variant, a smartphone with long-lasting support like this is usually used for more years and in this way you can be more confident with the data storage capacity. If you want to save money you can always point to the 64 GB model and then subscribe to the iCloud data plan, which offers 50 GB of extra space at € 0.99 per month.

Given the processor and optimization, which have always been Apple’s strong points, performance in daily use is identical to that of the top of the range models, there is no game or app that this iPhone SE doesn’t run at its best. On this front, there is little to say, the little one from Apple is one of the best smartphones in this price range for smoothness and pleasantness of use.

The screen is a 4.7-inch IPS with a resolution of 1334×750 pixels, calibrated very well by Apple and with True Tone technology. Is there anything better in this price range? Absolutely yes, but iPhone SE is like that, take it or leave it. The definition granted by the HD resolution is discreet, the merit goes to the reduced diagonal of the screen, which increases the pixel density.

Obviously, the experience that can be obtained with a larger panel in multimedia content is of greater impact, but those who buy iPhone SE do it also for its size, so we cannot consider it a problem: those who want a bigger screen can simply buy another smartphone.

Complete connectivity, in fact only 5G is missing which is still not present even in the upper-class iPhones. In fact, we find Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi ax, all GPS standards, NFC and lightning connector for charging, no 3.5 mm jack.

A dual SIM configuration is possible using a physical SIM and an eSIM.

The unlocking system of the phone is the classic Touch ID, in this case, there is little to say, it has remained the same as it used to be: quick in unlocking but if you have wet fingers it does not work. The feedback on the audio is very positive, stereo thanks to the first speaker placed at the bottom and the ear capsule.
At maximum volume the quality remains high, the power is lower than that of the iPhone 11 Pro Max but we are faced with one of the best smartphones in this price range in this area.

Autonomy, camera and software

Apple has installed an 1821 mAh battery, which is really small by current standards. The package includes the classic 5W charger but the phone also supports the 18W one. In the first case, a full charge takes about two hours, but wireless charging is also available, difficult to find in this price range.

Given the size of the battery Apple has managed to do a half miracle, in reality, we are not so surprised given what the iPhone 11 Pro Max can do. It is true that here the battery is much smaller but also the rest of the hardware is less energy-intensive, especially the display. The result is that iPhone SE always arrives at the end of the day, even the most demanding ones, and can even cover two days in case of less intense use. In reality, a particularly difficult component to manage is and is the processor.

Used for normal tasks, from email management to web browsing, passing through videos, it consumes very little, when you play instead the drop in energy becomes much more intense. It is clear that this processor was designed to be used, at maximum power, with larger batteries.

The photographic sector is composed of a single 12 Megapixel rear sensor with f / 1.8 aperture and optical stabilization. It should be the same camera as the iPhone 8, but on steroids thanks to the Apple A13 processor and the software optimizations related to it.
During the day the quality of the shots is excellent, the point and shoot of Apple is difficult to overcome and also, in this case, the simplicity in obtaining good photos, with balanced colours, is an important strength. At night instead of the absence of night mode it makes itself felt in some circumstances but the image processor often takes a piece of it, reducing the noise, without doing miracles. Instead, excellent videos, up to 4K at 60 fps, defined and well stabilized. The 7 Megapixel front camera does its job without standing out particularly from the crowd, even in this case the night mode is missing but you can rely on the flash simulated by the display.

On the software front there are no surprises, iOS 13 we all know it, or at least all iPhone users know it. Unlike the higher models, however, the OS control is the old school one, without the gestures seen in the variants with the Face ID.
Just the software is one of the strengths of this product, who has an older generation iPhone will find the same environment of use and above all the same longevity in updates. Just think that the current version is compatible up to iPhone 6s, released back in 2015: Apple is a guarantee in this respect and those who buy an iPhone SE today will be able to feel comfortable for a long time.


iPhone SE
iPhone SE is not a smartphone for technology enthusiasts, nor for those looking for a latest design. If you are among these iPhone SE it will seem out of date and meaningless. On the contrary, owners of old iPhones who do not want to disconnect from the Apple world and do not want to spend more on higher models, or those looking for a small-sized phone, will find everything they are looking for in this model.

This is not a phone that tries to undermine the Android world, it is more a product designed for those who do not have the slightest intention of switching to the green robot because it is linked to the Apple ecosystem. Ultimately, there are no half measures with iPhone SE, or you love it or hate it, the certain thing is that Apple will sell many of them during the year, we will not be surprised if in a few months iPhone SE will be the best-selling model of the entire line-up.

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