iPhone SE (2022) vs iPhone SE (2020): Worth the wait?

Apple have given their most affordable iPhone a spec bump, but are the performance gains alone worth the price of upgrading? 

Best iPhone SE (2022) plan overall
Vodaphone
Vodafone $40 Lite Plan
4 out of 5 stars
4
24-month plans from
$69.95
/mo
Monthly data allowance
40GB
Model
iPhone SE 64GB
Bonus
Get 30GB bonus data + 3 months of Amazon Prime Music
Best for big data
Optus
Optus $115 Plus Promo Plan
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
36-month plans from
$84.96
/mo
Monthly data allowance
500GB
Model
iPhone SE 64GB
Bonus
$115 reduced to $65 for first 12 months
Best iPhone SE plan for 5G
Telstra
Telstra $115 XL Upfront Mobile Plan
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
36-month plans from
$85
/mo
Monthly data allowance
180GB
Model
iPhone SE 64GB
Bonus
$115 reduced to $65/mo for first 12 months. Bonus 12-month Disney+ subscription
Best iPhone SE (2022) plan overall
Vodaphone
Vodafone $40 Lite Plan
4 out of 5 stars
4
36-month plans from
$59.97
/mo
Monthly data allowance
40GB
Model
iPhone SE 64GB
Bonus
Get 30GB bonus data + 3 months of Amazon Prime Music
Fergus Halliday
Digital Content Editor
Read More
March 08, 2022
4 min read

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It’s only been two years since Apple updated the ever-popular iPhone SE with a spec bump that allowed it to offer speed and performance that easily eclipsed smartphones that were double an at-the-time modest price-tag. 

Now, Apple is looking to update their lineup with a new iPhone SE. However, if you jumped on the budget-friendly bandwagon last time, it’s worth taking a closer look at the new device to determine whether an upgrade makes sense for you.

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone SE 2020: Price

Australian pricing for the third generation iPhone SE is almost identical to that of its 2022 counterpart, which is currently being phased out of the market. 

In practice, you’ll probably be able to find the iPhone SE 2020 on clearance and through local online resellers for a little less than its standard recommended retail pricing for the foreseeable future. Those factors help give the older iPhone SE 2020 the edge here, since it’s giving you more for what's likely to be a lower price than that commanded by the new model.

Winner: iPhone SE 2020

Below is a pricing table that breaks down the difference in cost between the new iPhone SE and the second-generation model.

64GB
128GB
256GB
iPhone SE (2020)$679$759NA
iPhone SE (2022)$719$799$969

iPhone SE 2022 plans

Much like the previous model, the new iPhone SE is available on a post-paid plan through Telstra, Vodafone and Optus. You can check out the widget below for the top five most popular plans for the iPhone SE.

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone 2022: Specs

Our full analysis is just beyond this table, but the below offers an at-a-glance side-by-side breakdown of how the iPhone SE 2022 and the iPhone SE 2020 compare when it comes to specs.

Specs
iPhone SE (2022)
iPhone SE (2020)
Price (RRP)From $679From $679
Display4.7-inch LCD IPS4.7-inch LCD IPS
Resolution1334x7501334 x 750
Pixels-per-inch (ppi)326326
Refresh rate (max)60Hz60Hz
Max brightness (nits)625625
Weight148g148g
Battery capacity1,821mAh1,821mAh
ChargingFast Charging 20W, Qi 7.5WFast Charging 20W, Qi 7.5W
Front (selfie) camera7-MP (f/2.2)7-MP (f/2.2)
Rear cameras12MP, f/1.8 (wide)12MP, f/1.8 (wide)
Memory (RAM)4GB RAM3GB RAM
Internal storage64 GB / 128 GB 64 GB / 128 GB
Expandable storageNoNo
ProcessorApple A15 BionicApple A13 Bionic
Operating SystemiOS 15iOS 13
Network5G4G
WirelessWiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5
Water and dust resistanceIP67IP67

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone SE 2020: Camera

In 2020, the second-generation iPhone SE used software trickery to eke out better results from dated camera hardware. The device featured a single-lens 12-megapixel rear camera and a 7-megapixel selfie shooter. 

While the new iPhone SE 2022 doesn’t tinker too much with the hardware side of things, there are some image processing improvements that come part and parcel with the new A15 Bionic processor. This means that, even if it doesn’t add any new lenses or sensors to the back of the design, the newer iPhone SE 2022 is likely to offer up slightly better camera performance. 

Winner: iPhone SE 2022

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone SE 2020: Design

The new iPhone SE 2022 recycles the design of the older iPhone SE 2020. It’s got the same layout, a single Lightning port, an identical screen, an equal level of water resistance and the ever-familiar Touch ID-enabled Home Button at the bottom end of the device. 

Given this overwhelming amount of overlap, it’s only fair to call this one a draw. 

Draw

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone SE 2020: Display

If you’re looking for differences between the 4.7-inch LCD display on the new iPhone SE 2022 and the 2020 iPhone SE, you’re gonna need to look pretty hard. Size aside, both devices feature a TrueTone screen with 1400:1 contrast ratio, support for the P3 wide colour gamut and a peak brightness of 625 nits. 

As with design, the only reasonable outcome here is a draw.

Draw

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone SE 2020: Performance

Performance is the one area where the new iPhone SE 2022 has a clear edge over its predecessor.

The 2020 model features an A13 Bionic processor. Its successor features an A15 Bionic processor. The latter is the more recent of the two, which means it benefits from the advancements that Apple have made when it comes to their own house-brand silicon over the last few years.

Even if the specs on the new iPhone SE aren’t quite as cutting edge as those in the iPhone 13, the processor shared between the two devices should be enough to give it a clear edge when it comes to everyday performance versus the 2020 iPhone SE. 

Winner: iPhone SE 2022

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone SE 2020: Battery life

When it comes to battery life, the differences between the iPhone SE 2022 and its predecessor are pretty minimal.

The battery inside the new iPhone SE is exactly the same as its predecessor. Although it is possible that the more recent A15 Bionic processor could lead to better battery life through superior power efficiency, the reality is that you’re probably going to get pretty similar results either way. 

Draw

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone SE 2020: Which should I buy?

Our verdict

While there isn’t quite enough here to compel those with an iPhone SE 2020 to upgrade to a more recent model, those looking to choose between the two may want to think carefully before they decide. 

Unless you’re desperate to get access to the more powerful processor or the faster speeds offered by Australia’s growing 5G mobile networks, the new iPhone SE is something of a hard sell for those who bought the last one. 

It’s a credit to the 2020 iPhone SE that the foundations of its successor are as solid as they are. However, when most of what works about the new iPhone SE is inherited from its 2020 counterpart, the argument for upgrading rests solely on the differences between the two and, ultimately, there aren’t that many.

The new iPhone SE has a ton to offer those looking for a cheap 5G handset that swings above its weight-class, but it hasn’t got that much to offer that the 2020 model doesn’t also have.

If you’re looking to spend as little as possible, then you’re probably not going to miss the performance gains and 5G connectivity of the new iPhone SE 2022 enough that it’s worth picking over the older model. On the other hand, if you’re a budget buyer looking to future-proof your next smartphone purchase, then the few improvements that the new iPhone SE 2022 does offer are going to make it a better buy.

Fergus Halliday
Written by
Fergus Halliday
Fergus Halliday is a Digital Content Editor for Reviews.org who specialises in technology, entertainment, gaming and pop culture. His work has been published in Gizmodo, Kotaku, Press Start Australia, The AU Review, Screen Rant, Superjump and more. You can follow him on Twitter.

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