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(Pocket-lint) - Apple announced the iPhone SE on 8 March 2022, marking the third generation of the device. The 2022 iPhone SE succeeds the iPhone SE from 2020 and introduces 5G, but retains the same familiar design we've seen since 2017.

How else does the iPhone SE (3rd generation) compare to the iPhone SE (2nd generation) though, and which should you choose if you're looking to upgrade an older device, like an iPhone 6 or iPhone 7?

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Design

  • iPhone SE (3rd gen): 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm, 144g
  • iPhone SE (2nd gen): 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm, 148g

The Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) follows a virtually identical design to its predecessor. There's a glass back (though tougher now), a stainless steel frame and it retains the Touch ID home button, differentiating it from the iPhone 13 mini that comes with Face ID and a full screen with a notch that the top instead.

The biggest difference from the 2nd generation model - and pretty much only difference in terms of design - is that the iPhone SE 3 features tougher glass on the front and back as briefly mentioned, matching that of the iPhone 13. Otherwise, it's the same shell with the same single rear camera in the top left. Both devices are IP67 water and dust resistance and neither offer the MagSafe technology found on the iPhone 13 models.

The iPhone SE (2nd generation) comes in Black, White and Product (RED) colour options. The iPhone SE (3rd generation) comes in Midnight, Starlight and Product (RED).

Display 

  • iPhone SE (3rd generation): 4.7-inch, LCD, True Tone, Haptic Touch
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation): 4.7-inch, LCD, True Tone, Haptic Touch

The iPhone SE (3rd generation) comes with a 4.7-inch LCD display with a 1334 x 750 pixel resolution, offering a pixel density of 326ppi. Note that it remains an LCD panel rather than switch to OLED, marking a distinction between it and the iPhone 13 mini. There's also a standard 60Hz refresh rate. It's a decent display still though with punch colours, good brightness and a good viewing experience overall. If it ain't broke, don't fix it right?

The iPhone SE (2nd generation) also has a 4.7-inch display, which means the size hasn't changed in the newer model, nor has the resolution or panel. Both the iPhone SE (3rd generation) and the iPhone SE (2nd generation) also feature Apple's True Tone technology, a P3 wide colour display and Haptic Touch.

Hardware and specs

  • iPhone SE (3rd gen): A15 Bionic, 5G, 64/128/256GB 
  • iPhone SE (2nd gen): A13 Bionic, 4G, 64/128/256GB

The iPhone SE (3rd generation) comes with the A15 Bionic chip, which is the same chipset you'll find under the hood of the iPhone 13 models, and it is a speedy little device. That means the 2022 iPhone SE also offers 5G connectivity like its more expensive siblings.

There are three storage models available - 64GB, 128GB and 256GB - and the iPhone SE (3rd generation) is said to have an improved battery life of 15 hours video streaming. In our experience, we got between 13-15 hours with heavy use. It supports wireless charging and wired charging but not MagSafe charging.

The iPhone SE (2nd generation) runs on the A13 Bionic chip and it's 4G capable only. In terms of performance, those upgrading from the second generation model should see a decent step up, and that would be the case from an older Touch ID iPhone too. 

Like the 2022 model, the iPhone SE (2020) comes in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB storage models and it claims to offer up to 13 hours of battery life. It supports wireless and wired charging, but like the iPhone SE (3rd generation), it doesn't offer MagSafe charging.

Cameras

  • iPhone SE (3rd gen): Single rear (12MP), 7MP front
  • iPhone SE (2nd gen): Single rear (12MP), 7MP front

The Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) features a single-lens camera system on the rear, consisting of a 12-megapixel wide sensor with a f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilisation. On the front, there's the same 7-megapixel sensor, matching that of older iPhone SE.

There are a few new camera features, with the iPhone SE (2022) introducing Deep Fusion on the SE line and Photographic Styles, whilst also offering Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting. It misses out on Apple's Cinematic mode compared to the iPhone 13 range though, as well as Night mode - the latter of which it could really have done with to help it out in low light conditions.

The iPhone SE (2nd generation) has a single 12-megapixel wide rear camera with an aperture of f/1.8. It offers optical image stabilisation, digital zoom up to 5x and there's Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting. You won't find Night mode again however, but you also won't find Photographic Styles or Deep Fusion. 

On the front of the iPhone SE (2022), there's a 7-megapixel camera. It doesn't offer Night mode though, nor Deep Fusion or Photographic Styles again. The third generation's front camera has the two latter features but not Night mode.

Conclusion

While the design of the Apple iPhone SE (3rd generation) remains unchanged compared to the 2020 iPhone SE, quite a bit has changed internally. 

The 2022 model continues to offer a single rear camera but it brings in some features in line with the iPhone 13 models, like Photographic Styles and Deep Fusion.

Let's not forget under the hood too though, where the iPhone SE (2022) runs on the latest A15 Bionic chip, matching the power of the iPhone 13 mini and offering 5G capabilities for a cheaper price point, while battery life has also seen improvements. 

The iPhone SE (2022) may look very similar to its predecessor, but it makes some solid improvements in terms of camera features, and hardware, with these improvements offering an even bigger difference for those upgrading from an older Touch ID model.

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.