Apple iPhone SE 2020 review: Great power with a limited battery

Last updated:  

Quick verdict: Apple's upgraded iPhone SE 2020 doesn't have great battery life, but it's otherwise an excellent option, especially for those looking to upgrade from an older iPhone.

  • Apple A13 processor is very powerful
  • A lower cost entry point for iOS phones
  • Small size is easy to carry
  • Only a single lens camera feels cheap
  • Low light shooting is poor
  • Battery life is sub-par

4.7 inches

Display size

1334 x 750px

64GB, 128GB, 256GB

Internal storage

12 MP

Rear camera

1,821 mAh

Battery size

Finder rated as Average vs similar phones

Details

Display

Display Size
4.7 inches
Resolution
1334 x 750px
Pixels per inch (PPI)
326 ppi

Camera

Rear camera megapixels
12MP
Rear camera aperture size
f/1.8
Video recording
4K
Front camera megapixels
7MP
Front camera aperture size
f/2.2

Physical Dimensions

Dimensions
138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3mm
Weight
148g

Connectivity

NFC
Yes
Wi-Fi
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Network category speed
N/A

Power, storage and battery

Processor
A13 Bionic
Operating system
iOS 13
Internal storage
64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Battery capacity
1,821mAh

Device features

Headphone jack
Yes
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Water resistance rating
IP67
Wireless charging
Qi
Launch price (RRP)$749
Launch date2020-04
Apple iPhone SE (2020)

It wasn't much of a secret that Apple was working on a successor to the iPhone SE, although in typical fashion it wasn't entirely known if it would simply update the innards of the older SE design, or opt for something we'd never seen in the iPhone world before.

Apple did something else instead, grabbing the essential design documents for 2017's Apple iPhone 8 and producing a phone with a mix of 2017 and 2020 era innards.

It's an unusual recipe that won't meet every phone user's needs, but for that core constituency of folks looking specifically to upgrade from a much older iPhone without the extreme cost of phones like the iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max, it's a very compelling prospect.


Design

Design

  • iPhone 8 design looks dated
  • Large bezels around 4.7 inch-display
  • TouchID lives!
Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Camera

Camera

  • Single lens camera
  • Poor low light performance
  • Portrait mode is only fair at best
Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Performance

Performance

  • A13 Bionic is a beast at this price
  • iOS upgrades assured
Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Battery life

Battery life

  • 1,821mAh battery is too small for a 2020 flagship
  • Wireless charging is welcome
Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Verdict

Verdict

  • A mid-range phone with a bright future
Apple iPhone SE (2020)
Should you buy it?

The recipe for the iPhone SE 2020 is a rather contradictory one. It's running on one of the fastest processors in any smartphone, period, let alone in a mid-range phone. Apple's control over iOS makes it enjoyable to use with a huge range of available apps to pick from.

However, it's also running on a design and with camera specs that belong to an entirely different era of smartphones, and its battery life sits at the lower end of any smartphone on the market, even those much cheaper than the iPhone SE itself.

It's a conundrum, then, and its solution in value terms depends on your precise needs in the smartphone market.

If you're updating from an older iPhone and you don't want to switch to Android, then it's a very easy recommendation. It's more powerful than the iPhone XR and competes well even against the iPhone 11 series of phones, albeit with that compromised battery life. That's less true if you're using a premium iPhone model from the last two years, because the step back in camera terms will affect you more.

If you're looking at the wider smartphone market, it's more powerful than competing Android handsets at this price point, but with a much more compromised camera and battery life story to tell.


Alternatives

In the purely iPhone space, the next model "up" in pricing terms is the Apple iPhone XR. Like the iPhone SE 2020, that features a single rear lens camera, but it's a different and more advanced module; the flipside there is that it runs on the older Apple A12 Bionic processor.

Then there's the Apple iPhone 11, which gives you dual rear cameras and that same A13 Bionic processor, as well as a 6.1-inch display, but at a much higher price point.

If you're happy enough in the Android world there's a very wide range of choices to consider at this price point. From a pure-phone standpoint, consider the Google Pixel 3a, which runs rings around the iPhone SE 2020 in low light terms.

If you crave more camera complexity, consider phones such as the Oppo A91, or the realme XT, which also sell for much less than the Apple iPhone SE 2020.


Specifications

Display

Display Size
4.7 inches
Resolution
1334 x 750px
Pixels per inch (PPI)
326 ppi

Camera

Rear camera megapixels
12MP
Rear camera aperture size
f/1.8
Video recording
4K
Front camera megapixels
7MP
Front camera aperture size
f/2.2

Physical Dimensions

Dimensions
138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3mm
Weight
148g

Connectivity

NFC
Yes
Wi-Fi
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Network category speed
N/A

Power, storage and battery

Processor
A13 Bionic
Operating system
iOS 13
Internal storage
64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Battery capacity
1,821mAh

Device features

Headphone jack
Yes
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Water resistance rating
IP67
Wireless charging
Qi

Latest mobile reviews

Ask an expert

To ask a question simply log in via your email or Facebook or create an account.

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site