iPhone SE 3rd gen review: Beast in disguise


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A brief glace at the iPhone SE 3rd gen and one would never know that it’s as powerful as the latest flagship phones that cost twice as much. But it’s only one of the features that makes the latest SE not only a beast in performance, but one that stays stubbornly in disguise.

The latest entry in the SE series is powerfully capable. First, it includes the A15 Bionic found in the iPhone 13. Combined with a standard 720p LCD screen, it flies through apps, media, and gaming with ease. In addition, the A15 includes Deep Fusion for advanced computational photography to make photos and videos look better.

Better yet, the A15’s power management is so efficient, the SE 3rd gen (combined with a 10 percent larger battery) can last more than 36 hours on one charge in our tests. Average daily use can muster 6 to 7 hours of on screen time.

The latest SE includes 5G support and it worked like a champ on the T-Mobile network. Utilizing the T-Mobile Ultra Capacity or mid-band service, the SE 3rd gen pulled in speeds of up to 500Mbps download in Los Angeles County.

A major feature that will draw legacy users to upgrade to the new SE is Touch ID. The biometric authentic staple provides the best UI experience, with less swiping, more bits of information at the top screen, and Apple Pay payments without having to look at the screen. It was an invaluable feature that made the SE 2nd gen my daily driver over the past two years of mask use.

The camera setup and lenses are the same as the prior version, but now include the Photographic Styles option for pre-set filters and Smart HDR 4. Photos certainly pop with more definition and color compared to the 2nd gen, while videos can handle better low light due to the A15. A sore absence is Night Mode, which remains available only on flagship iterations.

While the latest commentary may relegate the iPhone SE 3rd gen to seniors and kids, its appeal is mass market. It holds the right mix of components for speed, games, and photography, without the bloated tech that many consumers neither need nor want to pay for.

In fact, the classic 4.7-inch LCD display and frame is a defiant contrast to other devices that boast massive screens, bulging camera bumps, and a heavy chassis. The iPhone SE 3rd gen is in a class of its own. More essential than excessive, the SE is definitely deserving of the moniker – Special Edition.

The iPhone SE 3rd gen starts at $429.

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