Apple iPhone SE (2020): A Phone for Our Times

A budget phone that still has high-end features

Play Video
Tshaka Armstrong
YouTube Host, Mobile
Read More
June 30, 2020
3 min read

We are committed to sharing unbiased reviews. Some of the links on our site are from our partners who compensate us. Read our disclosure policies to learn more.

Apple has introduced a product which it hopes will speak to consumers in the age of COVID-19. While the iPhone SE (2020) was in development well before the spread of the virus, this is a phone which speaks to the times we find ourselves in right now.

Apple's head of marketing in 2016 told a Fortune Magazine reporter SE means Special Edition. When you hear the words "special edition," you think of something ultra-high-end, something extraordinary.

Well, for Apple, this phone was indeed extra from its regular product offerings.

Apple iPhone SE (2020) 128 GB

The iPhone SE (2020) offers great value

In the age of corona, people are laid off, money is tight, but the smartphone has become a necessary communications device which ties us to family, friends and loved ones, and even work. For the 50% of people living below the poverty line who don't have broadband access, they often rely on smartphones to accomplish things like paying bills and accessing services that have gone mainly online.

If you're in need of a new phone but money is tight, Apple's value proposition is this model, the iPhone SE (2020). Priced at $450, the phone has most of the features of a high-end model. Now, that $450 price point is for the middle-tier 128 GB model. If your budget allows for it, it’s a great choice to start there instead of the $400 level for only 64 GB of storage. If you choose the 64 GB option, you'll be dumping pictures and videos every time you need to update the operating system.

High-end features in a budget smartphone

The front of the phone features the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, known for being one of the best in the smartphone world, as well as a 7 MP camera. This camera supports 1080p video recording up to 30 fps. Though it doesn’t support face unlock, through some artificial intelligence wizardry, the camera supports Slofie video mode and Portrait mode. But many of us are currently wearing masks so the face unlock is a non-issue at the moment.

Located on the right side of the phone are the power button and SIM tray.

The alert slider and volume rocker are on the left.

On the bottom is where you'll find the stereo speakers, lightning port, and microphone. Next to that camera is the speaker grill.

iPhone SE (2020) camera specs

The rear camera of the phone is where most people will probably be focusing their attention. For the iPhone SE (2020), you get only one. It's a 12 MP camera that supports 4K video recording up to 60 fps, slo-mo videos at 1080p up to 240 fps, and cinematic video stabilization capability.

There is no Night Mode on the iPhone SE (2020), but when you want to take pictures in dimly lit spaces, you'll find that the camera is a capable shooter. Nighttime photos have solid colors and contrast. One noticeable difference with the iPhone SE (2020) versus the more expensive iPhones that have Night Mode is the graininess in the photos when they are enlarged a great deal.

For what you're paying for the phone, these pictures are more than adequate for the average user.

Popular plans for the Apple iPhone SE (2020) 128 GB

iPhone SE (2020) offers decent battery life and rapid charging

Apple has always placed an emphasis on frictionless user experience over hardware specifications. One of the most important elements of the user experience is battery life.

Apple says this battery will last as long as the iPhone 8. Our testing proved that the iPhone SE (2020) will last you through a workday. After 12 hours, six of which were screen-on time and very little talk time, it was still going strong with 25% left. If you're a heavy voice caller, you may need a backup battery.

If the battery gets low, the iPhone SE (2020) supports fast charging over a wire, just not the wire or brick the phone comes with. If you want rapid charging, you'll have to spring for a charger, rated at 18 watts or greater. With an 18-watt charger, Apple claims you can get to 50% in 30 minutes. The phone also supports wireless Qi charging but not rapid charging.

Great for all your media consumption needs

Today’s smartphones are rapidly becoming the primary source of media consumption, such as time-wasting on TikTok or watching videos on YouTube and other streaming media venues. The iPhone SE (2020)'s screen has Apple's Retina HD, and when paired with the stereo speakers, makes for pleasant user experience.

This Retina HD display is basically a bit better than 720p on paper, so you won't be disappointed. On Netflix or any other streaming platform, videos look great and the sound is more than loud enough for the kind of close-proximity viewing you'll be doing with the screen of this size.

Recap: This is the right time for a robust budget phone

This phone couldn't come at a better time. Money is tight, but we're telecommuting. Remote contact is more important than ever and the iPhone SE (2020), more than anything, speaks pandemic. At a base of $400, the price is right. You're going to get a phone with a really solid user experience which won't add to your anxiety because you spent more than you know you should. The visual experience is very good, and the phone feels fast. This is definitely the right device for right now.

Follow us on YouTube!

If this video helps you, please hit those Like and Subscribe buttons.

And go on and smash that notification bell to get updates whenever we put out a new video.

Tshaka Armstrong
Written by
Tshaka Armstrong
Tshaka is a nerd and Griot. Founder of the non-profit digital literacy organization Digital Shepherds, he’s also been a broadcast technology reporter, writer, and producer. In addition to being an award-winning broadcast storyteller, he’s also covered tech online and in print for everything from paintball gear technology, to parenting gadgets. He blathers on about his many curiosities on social media everywhere as @tshakaarmstrong.

Related Articles

Woman using a laptop for a conference call discussing the best internet service providers
8 Best Internet Service Providers 2022
Looking for the best home internet options? Read on to compare download speed, price, and...
A man with dark hair and a beard pays bills on his laptop while lying on a couch
5 Best Internet Deals of December 2022
Save money with the best home internet deals this month, including Xfinity deals, AT&T deals,...
Grandmother sitting on couch in living room watching cable TV
Basic Cable Packages and Channels Guide
We’ll help you find the best basic cable package for your living room and your...
Woman looking at cellphone outside
Visible Wireless Cell Phone Plans Review
Looking for a simpler cell phone plan? Visible Wireless is a no-nonsense prepaid provider that...