Is The iPhone SE (2020) Worth It In 2022?

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Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

As a tech geek, I often pay a visit to the electronics section in shops and supermarkets, I guess it’s in an effort to find deals and products that would be interesting to make content about.

I was doing my weekly shopping at Tesco when I came across the Tesco Mobile section and saw that they had an iPhone SE (2020) available. The phone was available on contract, Pay-As-You-Go and even sim-free. The sim-free price was £339.99 with contracts starting at £16.99 per month.

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This gave me an idea, particularly as I found myself using the iPhone SE (2020) as my secondary phone a few months ago.

But is a two-year-old entry-level phone worth buying in 2022? I used an iPhone SE (2020) for 3 months as my secondary phone and here’s what I think…

How does the iPhone SE (2020) perform in everyday life?

The iPhone SE range has always been Apple’s attempt at making entry-level smartphones that are both affordable and actually quite decent.

I had the opportunity to own both the original and the 2nd generation and whilst they were rather basic in terms of specs, they actually performed rather well.

The one thing that sets the SE series apart is the fact that it still has the home button which was found in older models such as the iPhone 8, 7 and 6. The phone also has an unusually small 4.7″ Retina HD display. These two features combined create a device tailored to very specific markets including people who prefer smaller devices, businesses and people who only require basic phones.

Does the screen size bother me?
Starting with the screen size, it can take a while to adjust to the smaller size, particularly if you’ve used a larger phone for a while or if you’re using the SE as a secondary device.

I must admit, as a Pixel 6 Pro user, it definitely took me a while to adjust, I mean there’s quite a difference in size. I mean, the screen on the 6 Pro is a staggering 6.7″ whereas the SE is only 4.7″!

That’s quite a difference but the Retina HD display really made a difference in usability and I actually found that I enjoyed using the smaller phone with such a stunning display.

I found that on a day-to-day basis, I actually enjoyed using a smaller phone, mainly because it fits in my hand nicely and it was comfortable to hold with its curved edges. If I compare it to my Pixel 6 Pro which effectively is a phablet, I find the device difficult to use because of the large size. I often find myself changing my grip just to be able to reach an area on the screen, which has caused me to nearly drop the phone on so many occasions.

What is the performance like?
Let’s not lie to ourselves, the performance of the 2nd generation iPhone SE isn’t going to be as good as the iPhone 13. However, one can argue that the majority of users won’t actually notice a huge difference if they notice at all.

Now, I wouldn’t classify myself as a heavy user. I may do the basic video editing every now and then for TikTok or play a game or two, but nothing too heavy. I was surprised to find that the iPhone SE actually performed extremely well!

I used it for a wide range of tasks from recording videos to editing videos for TikTok and I haven’t once experienced any lag or performance issues, the phone just worked.

How long does the battery last?
Traditionally, as the iPhone SE is more on the budget-friendly side, we can’t expect it to have long-lasting battery life. To confirm that, the phone is actually rated for having less battery life than other iPhones.

In a day of my life, the iPhone SE lasted around a day and a half of on and off use. I used it for watching YouTube videos, and checking social media as well as emails.

However, when watching videos using 4G the phone lasted around 7 hours.

What about the camera quality?
One of the most surprising things about the SE is that picture quality is rather good for an entry-level phone. That’s likely because there isn’t a massive difference between the camera found on the iPhone 8.

Like many smartphones from a few years ago, the iPhone SE only has two cameras, a 12MP one at the back and a 7MP one at the front.

Personally, I found the camera quality to be very good and I actually recorded a lot of the content on my YouTube channel with it, such as my video on A Day In The Life With The Pixel 6 Pro

I regret to say that I haven’t taken many photos with this phone, mainly because it was my secondary phone and because I always carried my Pixel 6 Pro with me. However, here is one example of a decent-looking photo:

London Paddington Station
Photo of London Paddington Station – Taken with iPhone SE (2020)

As mentioned before, this phone was mainly used as a secondary camera for my YouTube channel and I can honestly say that it performed well.

But Would I Recommend The 2020 Version?

That’s a very good question!

If we consider the most basic version with 64 GB of Storage, the 2020 model retails for £339.99 at Tesco Mobile, whereas the newer 2022 version retails for £419.99 on Amazon. That’s only an £80 difference if you wanted to get in brand new.

If you were looking to buy a brand new model, I would definitely recommend going for the latest version because not only are you futureproofing yourself with 5G support but you’re also getting a newer chip.

On the other hand, if 5G support is not important for you, a renewed model will set you back around £190 on Amazon which is quite a saving!

Conclusion 

Overall, I think that the iPhone SE (2020) is a very good entry-level phone. In fact, I would go as far as saying that it’s one of the best entry-level phones out there.

Yes, it lacks 5G support, which is a shame but then again it is a 2-year-old model. It still has a very good camera and it still performs pretty well.

Who should get the iPhone SE (2020)?

The iPhone SE (2020) is a great phone, especially if you’re upgrading from an older model such as the 6, 7 or 8. Not only are you getting a familiar look and feel, but you’re also getting a home button. This makes the model perfect if you prefer the older style of iPhones.

The familiar interface and small size make the phone perfect for business use, after all, if you already have a larger personal phone you wouldn’t want to carry two of them.

No matter which iPhone SE you choose, it’s perfect for users who prefer smaller phones. Speaking of which, I know many people who prefer smaller phones but strangely enough, there doesn’t seem to be much choice other than the SE and the iPhone 13 Mini

The Verdict

Personally, I would definitely recommend an iPhone SE. However, If I was to spend money on a new phone I would seriously consider futureproofing it and making sure that it’s compatible with 5G, even if it meant getting the 2022 model second-hand. 

Having a look online, I found that a second-hand iPhone SE (2022) costs just £310 at CEX which isn’t a bad price for a second-hand model. However, it’s important to remember that a brand new one is currently priced at £419 on Amazon at the most basic spec.

On the other hand, the 2020 iPhone SE is still a very good phone, even if it doesn’t support 5G! I think that it’s a perfect phone for bargain hunters and people who are just after a basic phone.

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