While the new iPhone SE 3 gets the same A15 chip as the more expensive iPhone 13 and upgrades like 5G, improved battery life, camera improvements, and more, there are naturally tradeoffs. with Apple’s most affordable iPhone. Let’s dive into the iPhone SE 3 vs. SE 2, iPhone 11, and more.
As expected, the iPhone SE 3 is the latest iteration of Apple’s focus on low price while improving performance and offering favorite features. But with Apple still officially selling the iPhone 11 for just $70 more than the SE 3 and iPhone 12/13 as well, there’s a lot to consider.
iPhone SE 3 versus SE 2, iPhone 11, 12 and 13
In another move that sets the iPhone apart from Android smartphones, Apple has put its current and most powerful smartphone chip in its most affordable iPhone.
With the iPhone SE 3 featuring the A15 Bionic, it surpasses the iPhone 11 and 12 in performance and matches the iPhone 13 line. It’s impressive for a $429 iPhone to have the same processor as the models from $700 to $1,100.
|iPhone SE 3||iPhone SE2||iPhone 11/12||iPhone 13|
|Chip||A15||A13||A13 / 14||A15|
|CPU cores||6 hearts||6 hearts||6 hearts||6 hearts|
|GPU cores||4 hearts||4 hearts||4 hearts||4 hearts|
|neural engine||16 cores||8 hearts||8/16 hearts||16 cores|
|Storage room||64-256 GB||64 or 128 GB||64-128GB/64-256GB||64-512 GB|
Regarding the iPhone SE 3 equipped with the A15, Apple claims that it offers 1.2 times faster graphics performance than iPhone SE 2 and 1.8 times faster CPU performance than iPhone 8 (A11 chip).
In the real world, having the A15 inside the iPhone SE 3 means apps will load quickly and run smoothly. And, as we’ll discuss in more detail below, the new chip enables features like Apple’s Computational Photography and improved battery life.
Design and display
|Design||iPhone SE 3||iPhone SE2||iPhone 11/12||iPhone 13|
|Glass front and back||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Front ceramic shield||❌||❌||❌/✅||✅|
|Water resistance||Up to 1 meter||Up to 1 meter||Up to 2/6 meters||Up to 6 meters|
As for the overall dimensions, the iPhone SE 3 is the same as the SE 2:
- 5.45 inches tall (138.4mm)
- 2.65 inches wide (67.3 mm)
- 0.29 inch thick (7.3 mm)
- 5.09 ounces (144 grams) – actually 4 grams lighter than the SE 2
Of course, one of the big cost-saving measures with the iPhone SE 3 is that it uses the same LCD screen design as the SE 2 and iPhone 8. That means large top and bottom bezels instead of the modern all-screen + OLED display design of the iPhone 11, 12 and 13.
|To display||iPhone SE 3||iPhone SE 2||iPhone 11/12||iPhone 13|
|Display Type||LCD||LCD||YOU ARE||YOU ARE|
|P3 wide color||✅||✅||✅||✅|
Other display differences include slightly lower pixels per inch (PPI) and brightness than the iPhone 12 and 13. However, the iPhone SE 3 matches the iPhone 11 with both of these specs.
With the iPhone SE 3 you get two more hours for video playback and 10 more hours for audio than the SE 2. Apple says that’s thanks to the A15 chip, its latest battery chemistry, and internal design changes.
This puts the SE 3 battery life on par with the iPhone 12 mini but still below other modern iPhones.
Note: Apple’s battery estimates show the “Up to” qualifier on all its specification pages.
|Battery life||iPhone SE 3||iPhone SE 2||iPhone 11/12||iPhone 13|
|Video playback||15 hours||13 hours||17 hours||19 hours|
|Streaming video||10 hours||8 hours||10/11 a.m.||15 hours|
|Audio playback||50 hours||40 hours||65 hours||75 hours|
Like other iPhones, the SE 3 offers fast charging, so a 20W+ power adapter will give you a 50% charge in 30 minutes.
This is where the trade-offs become clearer with the new iPhone SE. You’re giving up MagSafe which is available on iPhone 12 and 13 as well as Face ID and ultra-wideband support on iPhone 11 and later.
Another limitation is that 5G connectivity on the iPhone SE 3 does not include support for mmWave (the fastest but rarest flavor) and instead sticks to sub-6GHz 5G. . This probably isn’t a real-world issue, as sub-6GHz 5G is the most common, but it’s a good thing to know.
|Connectivity||iPhone SE 3||iPhone SE 2||iPhone 11/12||iPhone 13|
|5G||✅ (but no mmWave)||❌||❌/✅||✅|
|WiFi 6 (802.11ax)||✅||✅||✅||✅|
The iPhone SE 3 gets some nice improvements for the main rear camera, including Deep Fusion (first arriving with the iPhone 11), Smart HDR 4 for photos, and Photographic Styles (launched with the iPhone 13).
However, you’re still missing out on features like 2x optical zoom and night mode available with iPhone 11 and later.
|Rear camera(s)||iPhone SE 3||iPhone SE2||iPhone 11/12||iPhone 13|
|12MP wide camera||✅ (f/1.8 aperture)||✅ (f/1.8 aperture)||✅ (f/1.8/f/1.6)||✅ (f/1.6)|
|12MP Ultra Wide Camera||❌||❌||✅||✅|
|Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)||✅||✅||✅||–|
|2x optical zoom outside||❌||❌||✅||✅|
|True Tone Flash||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Smart HDR 4 for photos||✅||❌||❌||✅|
When it comes to video recording, here’s how the features compare:
|Rear camera(s) video||iPhone SE 3||iPhone SE2||iPhone 11/12||iPhone 13|
|HDR video recording||❌||❌||❌/✅||✅|
|OIS for video||✅||✅||✅||–|
|Sensor-shift OIS for video||❌||❌||❌||✅|
|Time-lapse night mode||❌||❌||❌||✅|
For the front camera, the iPhone SE 3 sticks with a 7MP FaceTime HD camera that offers:
- Smart HDR 4
- f/2.2 aperture
- retina flash
- Photographic Styles
- Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting
- 1080p video recording with cinematic stabilization
- deep fusion
A few features you miss with the SE 3 front camera compared to the iPhone 11 and newer are 4K video recording, Animoji and Memoji support, and a 12MP lens.
SE 3 colors, storage and price
With a slight change to the SE 2 colors, the SE 3 is available in midnight, starlight and (PRODUCT)RED. And the starting price is up $30 from the SE 2 with the SE 3 starting at $429 (orders start March 11).
What’s in the box?
Keep in mind that the only thing you get in the box is the iPhone SE 3 and a USB-C to Lightning cable.
If you need it, Apple sells its 20W USB-C power adapter for $19, but you can pick up more compact options like Anker’s PowerPort III for less.
iPhone SE 3 vs SE 2, iPhone 11 recap
If you’re looking to spend $500 or less on a new iPhone that will last for years, the SE 3 is a compelling option with Apple’s latest processor, improved battery life, compact design, and some nice device upgrades. Photo.
That’s as long as you’re good with the old design with larger top and bottom display bezels, sticking with Touch ID instead of Face ID, skipping MagSafe, and giving up some of the advanced features of the camera of iPhone 11 and newer.
The iPhone SE 3 will be up for pre-order on March 11 with deliveries starting March 18.
For iPhone 12, 13 and 13 Pro comparisons, check out our in-depth guides:
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