iPhone SE Gen 3 – WTF?

Apple’s iPhone SE Gen 3 is a so-called low-cost $719/799/969 Apple. Low-cost is a diametrically opposed position for Apple that charges $29 for a plain microfibre polishing cloth.

And I pity poor Tim Cook, Apple CEO, who can no longer claim it is the best Apple ‘whatever’ yet. All he could manage was calling it an iconic design that harks back to the original iPhone circa 2007 and later seen in the original iPhone SE (2016), iPhone 8 (2017) and iPhone SE Gen 2 (2020).

Tim may call it iconic; I call it ironic lacking imagination and practicality.

Let’s look at a few iPhone SE Gen 3 aspects.

On the plus side

  • A15, 7nm, 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU and 16-core NPU for more power and better AI photo post-processing
  • Supports iOS15.x and later and will get at least four years of updates
  • IP67 water-resistant
  • 5G nano-SIM and eSIM
  • Qi 7.5W charging (not MagSafe)
  • Stereo speakers (most <$400 Androids are mono)

On the negative side

  • That low res 4.7″ 1334 x 750 IPS LCD screen we saw on the iPhone SE 2020. In the Android world, HD screens are usually on sub-$200 phones, and some even have 90Hz or 120Hz refresh.
  • While the screen is small, the overall size is 138.4 (H) x 67.3 (W) x 7.3 (D) x 144g with a prominent forehead and chin (identical to the iPhone SE 2020). A full-size screen from 5.5 to 5.8″ would fit in this chassis.
  • Apple doesn’t disclose the ram, but it is 3GB. In the Android world, a sub-$200 may have 3GB. I know iOS and Android handle RAM allocation differently, but a 64-but SoC needs more to get the most from it.
  • Storage – 64GB ($799), 128GB ($799) and 256GB ($969) and no microSD. Comparing 5G only OPPO’s great value A54 (64GB/$299), A74 (128GB/$349), Samsung A22 (128GB/$349), Moto Edge 20 Fusion (128GB/$379) and the Moto Edge 20 Pro (256GB/$899) all with micro SD expansion.
  • Rear camera: A single 12MP, f/1.8, OIS, 4K@60fps. Almost all 5G Android phones over $200 have at least dual and usually tri-cameras with a depth sensor. Some are 50MP (binned to 12.5MP). The SE (2020) using the same camera DXOMARK was 103. Respectable but a long way from the iPhone 13 Max/Pro at 137, Mini/standard at 130.
  • Selfie camera: 7MP. f/2.2, 1080p@30fps, EIS, HDR. Most low-cost Android phones have 12MP or more. The SE (2020) using the same camera DXOMARK was 84. Respectable but a long way from the iPhone 13 Max/Pro/Mini and standard at 99.
  • Battery: Apple doesn’t disclose battery capacity, but it is likely <2000mAh. It claims up to 15 hours of video playback (local storage) and up to 10 hours (WiFi streamed). No charger in the box. You have to buy an Apple 9V/2.2A/20W charger at $29. Apple claims a 50% charge in 30 minutes, but there are no real-world tests yet. In the Android world, most smartphones come with 4500-5000mAh batteries and the appropriate charger.
  • Lightning versus USB-C connector. Apple still uses the Lightning connector, which may soon be banned in the EU – at least it has low-speed 7.5W Qi (not MagSafe) charging.

CyberShack’s view – iPhone SE Gen 3 – WTF?

Apple lovers will have tuned out at the headline. The purpose is not to flame Apple but to help those Android users scratching their heads, saying WTF.

Apple is a walled garden, and it can charge whatever it likes. I am sure it will sell truckloads as some must have an Apple logo on all their tech.

But spec for spec, especially in the screen, camera, battery and storage, you can get far better value from Android. And you are not locked into the walled garden either.

To quote Apple Insider

Apple’s update of the iPhone SE is a textbook demonstration of a specifications bump. You’re not getting anything new on the outside at all, with all of the fundamental changes happening internally.

This certainly makes sense for Apple to do this for the iPhone SE, as it saves money on not redesigning something that already works. For what changes there are, they’re relatively minor.

CyberShack Apple news and reviews including the Apple March 2022 launch