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iPhone SE 2020 – I’ve Got One! Worth The Upgrade? Here’s My Review & Camera Test

Tech Blog
Saturday, 2nd May, 2020

iPhone SE 2020 Review - I've got one, here's how it stacks up

The excitement of getting a brand new phone…It’s been a while! Six years in fact, but I have finally found a worthy successor to my beloved iPhone 6, the iPhone SE.

What upgrade some may say…The iPhone SE looks very familiar, and that’s not a bad thing.

Here’s everything you need to know about the iPhone SE, if you should upgrade, and that all important camera test.

What Is The iPhone SE?

First of all, if you don’t know, Apple released the iPhone SE a few weeks ago. In a nutshell, the iPhone SE is:

  • The same design as the iPhone 7 & 8, and incredibly similar to the 6 or 6s (without a headphone jack)
  • 4.7″ screen
  • Flagship Apple A13 Chip found in the iPhone 11/Pro
  • 3GB Ram
  • 12MP 1.8f single rear camera, 7MP front camera (with portrait mode)
  • IP67 rated waterproof
  • 64, 128, 256GB storage.

Who Is The iPhone SE For?

In my opinion, the SE is for 2 types of people. Those who are looking to upgrade from an original SE, iPhone 6/6s/7/8, or someone looking to get into the iPhone/iOS system, but don’t want to pay the hefty price of the other phones.

I have been waiting to upgrade for a while, and finally decided on the SE. So, was it worth it.

What I Was Looking For Upgrading From an iPhone 6

If you’ve read my post about using an iPhone 6 in 2020, you’ll know that the phone still works perfectly fine. The only issues were that it was slightly sluggish, and the camera although still perfectly fine, was a bit dated. But thanks to getting the battery replaced, it had a new lease of life.

For upgrading, I was looking at the following, in this order:

  • Good physical size of phone (similar to the iPhone 6)
  • Fast & smooth experience (good CPU/RAM)
  • At least 128GB storage
  • Good battery life
  • Better camera
  • Less than £1000

When it comes to the size, I think the key word is mobile. I want a phone which fits in my pocket (My jean pocket). If I am forced into a bigger phone I’d have no choice, but if there’s an option for this type of size, this is what I’d go for.

The odd thing is that the standard iPhone 11 (and XR before it) is a bigger physical size than the Pro (and then there’s the Pro Max which is far too big).

So the 11 is too big, but the pro is too expensive. The iPhone 11 Pro has 2 storage options; 64GB or 256GB, there is no 128GB option. 64 is too small for me, which makes 256GB the option, and at £1200 it’s just too expensive.

The price bothers me for another reason, durability. I was incredibly hesitant to spend £1000+ for something with a glass back and front. I would be very nervous with the phone, and if it did need a repair, it’s not cheap!

There’s also those notches which are something I really don’t like.

What You Get With The iPhone SE 2020

You get the same form factor as the good old 6/6s/7/8 phones, which I personally like. If you lay them down screen-side-up they look more or less identical. The backs of the phones are different, there’s sadly no headphone jack which I wished was there, but you can’t have everything.

Next up the power, the A13 chip. I have to say that it feels a lot faster. I have ran the SE side-by-side with my 6, and it runs faster. It’s only split seconds, but it is noticeable side by side. It just feels faster and buttery smooth. So yes, you can notice a nice little power bump from the 6.

I got a black phone, in the 128GB variant. Since my old phone was 128, anything less would feel like a downgrade. The price is £469, which these days is is a pretty decent price for what you get.

iPhone SE Camera Comparison Test

So one of the biggest features of any phone these days is the camera. The SE has an upgraded camera from the 6, but it’s said to be the same module as the 8, but running on the new A13 chip there’s been debate if that improves it.

I cannot compare the 8, but I have compared the iPhone SE camera with the iPhone 6, and I have even thrown in my Canon 80D DSLR camera too…Don’t worry, there is method in this madness test 😉

iPhone 6 vs iPhone SE vs DSLR Camera Comparison Test

Here are 3 photos: A DSLR, iPhone SE and the iPhone 6 can you tell them apart?

The order which they are taken is: iPhone 6, iPhone SE and finally the Canon 80D.

What was the point of this test? This test was a real world test. Let me explain…

These days when we’re looking at photos, we look at a relatively small screen on our smartphones. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or other social media apps.

Since the photos are small, we don’t see all of the detail, not to mention some of the apps may also compress the photos. If you do close up or macro photography then you will be able to tell the difference, but for everyday shooting, the differences can be seen, but they’re not as big as you may think.

There’s also editing which you can do, and of course the real reason photos look better than others is because of the person behind the lens.

Obviously if you use a DSLR camera and see all photos at 100%, the DSLR will win every time.

If you examine details of photos you will be able to spot the differences. If you just want to enjoy taking and looking at photos on a small screen, the iPhone SE camera is good.

iPhone SE camera 100% crop vs iphone 6

iPhone 6 (left) vs iPhone SE (right) at 100% crop

iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 100% Crop Photo Test

What about a 100% crop test? You can see the results above…

This is taking each photo, and cropping a section so you can see each image at 100%. If you’re wondering why the iPhone SE appears closer up, it’s because the sensor has more megapixels (so larger image size).

Although it’s closer up, you’ll probably agree that the iPhone SE wins against the 6, as it should. The text is a lot clearer, and it’s a better image overall.

The test is very clear. If you have £1000 and want to get the best possible camera, then buy a camera! 😉

If you want a very decent camera you can fit in your pocket, easy to use, affordable and is also a smartphone with all your apps, then the iPhone SE is worthy.

The iPhone SE – The Perfect Bridge Phone

If you have an old phone and you want to upgrade, but aren’t impressed with the other options, the iPhone SE is the perfect phone to bridge the gap.

Smartphones in general just feel like there is something lacking. There’s always rumours of improved tech, but nothing which really stands out as a must have piece of tech. Most of the big advances in recent times has been the software, rather than hardware.

Currently there’s no 5G for Apple, but others have it. The Apple flagships aren’t leading the way in the camera department, and smartphones in general don’t seem to be offering anything groundbreaking in general.

There’s only ever the offer of “better camera, faster CPU, Bigger Screen”, and that’s something which comes around every 12 months. Slightly better specs, but for a huge amount of money. It has got to the stage where you don’t need to upgrade every year, and it’s been that way for some time.

Enter the iPhone SE (and other mid-range phones). It comes at a price-point where it could be replaced in 12 months. Equally, it comes with the power and features that should last 2-3 years, maybe even longer.

It’s the perfect way to bridge the gap between an older phone, and something which may (or may not) come down the line in the future.

Verdict: The iPhone SE Is Very Good

The iPhone SE is very good, and is a welcome upgrade for my iPhone 6. If you need an upgrade, for whatever reason, now is the time.

The “perfect” iPhone SE would have been the same physical size but more screen, i.e. no bezels. However the 4.7″ screen size is perfectly usable for me.

It’s more of the same of what I love from my old 6, with upgraded internals. After 6 years of using a 6, I can’t have any complaints. I’m going to enjoy using this phone.

Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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