iPhone SE Unveiled: Apple's $429 Phone Gets 5G and the A15 Bionic Chip
The third-gen iPhone SE was previewed at Apple's March "Peek Performance" event.
Patrick HollandManaging Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Watch this: Apple's 2022 iPhone SE Is Equal Parts New and Old
The new iPhone SE has essentially the same body as the 2020 model, but it uses the A15 Bionic chip that we've seen in the iPhone 13. The A15 chip brings faster processing speeds; Apple says that the new SE has a CPU that's 1.8x faster than the iPhone 8 and a GPU that's 2.2x faster. And while not every aspect of the new phone will use all of that power, such performance ensures years of support for new versions of iOS.
The iPhone SE has a single 12-megapixel rear camera and a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. The A15 chip also brings some weighty improvements to the cameras, including advanced features including Smart HDR 4, Photographic Styles and Deep Fusion.
Despite the addition of 5G support, which can be a big drain on a phone's battery, Apple claims the new SE has better battery life than the 2020 model. Some of those improvements might come from the A15 chip and iOS 15. But I'm curious to see if Apple also managed to cram in a bigger battery.
But for all the upgrades internally, plenty of things remain unchanged. The iPhone SE still has a home button with Touch ID and lacks Face ID. The 4.7-inch LCD display is the same one used on the 2020 iPhone SE and the iPhone 8, which came out in 2017. The back of the phone is still glass, but during the event Apple said it was the "toughest glass on a smartphone." But the SE doesn't seem to have a ceramic shield over the display like the iPhone 12 and 13 series.
The iPhone SE comes in three colors: midnight (black), starlight (white) and Product Red and will be available starting March 18 with preorders beginning Friday March 11.
The original iPhone SE, launched in 2016, cost $399. It combined the body of an iPhone 5S with the internals of an iPhone 6. The SE was an unexpected hit for Apple and appealed to people who wanted a small iPhone and an affordable one.
Watch this: Apple's 'Peek Performance' Event in Less Than 10 Minutes
In 2020, Apple updated the iPhone SE, giving it an iPhone 8 body and the iPhone 11's A13 chip. The phone showed how much of an iPhone's capability comes from just the processor. Until today, the 2020 iPhone SE was the only iPhone Apple sold that still had the classic iPhone design: a large forehead, chin and home button.