Though I love the four-inch form factor, I've always been a bit disappointed in how Apple treats the SE. It lacks the flagship advanced technology that we love in even the bottom tier ("bottom tier" being above the SE) iPhone. Its guts and hardware are years old, technologically. Even when it was only a year old, I had already noticed a slowdown in performance.

A note on betas

Though I am giving my first-hand experience running iOS 12 on an iPhone SE, it's important to keep in mind that it is still in its beta stages.

Things may, and likely will, change before iOS 12 officially launches this fall.

These performance improvements may change (though they will probably only get better), so what I say now isn't necessarily reflective of what you'll see in the Gold Master release.

The test

Even though I've moved onto the iPhone X, I still keep my SE around because I love the size. This year, I decided to turn it into a beta testing device and installed the public beta of iOS 12.

The performance improvement was immediately noticeable.

When Apple unveiled iOS 12 at WWDC 2018, it noted that one of the major new features coming this fall is performance improvements. The latest software update is supposed to make app launching up to 40% faster, the keyboard to appear up to 50% faster, and the camera to launch up to 70% faster.

"Cool," I thought, but didn't really consider it after that.

Not until I started testing iOS 12 on my iPhone SE. Having switched to the iPhone X, the SE really felt like a dinosaur before. I didn't even like using it very much because everything took so much time to load.

It's not magic

With iOS 12, it feels like the SE is brand new, with a brand new processor chip and extra RAM, even though it's the same exact iPhone I got two years ago.

We like to say things like, "It works like magic," but really it's not magic at all. The development team at Apple worked very hard to make these significant improvements to iOS performance.

iMore Editor-at-Large Rene Ritchie explains in detail how Apple managed this feat with faster processor ramp-ups, improved scrolling, and fetching data in the background.

Most importantly, Apple made changes to how our devices react to memory requests. In iOS 12, an app will 64, 32, or even 8-bits, depending on what the request calls for. This significantly lowers how often large memory demands are active.

These under-the-hood improvements are not so under-the-hood. It's like dropping a Hemi into a classic Impala. You notice it.

What's old is new again

There's no mistaking that iOS 12's performance enhancements help older devices. It's the little things that I noticed first.

When I launch an app, it loads much faster, even third-party apps. Trello is a perfect example. I basically hate using it, but it's the companywide program for tracking what we write about every day. In iOS 11, on my iPhone X, it takes a very long time to load and often freezes for nearly a minute before working at all.

Trello on my iPhone SE loads in seconds and, though it still freezes up on occasion, it gets back on track much faster.

Many other apps load at the exact same speed on my iPhone SE running the iOS 12 beta as they do on my iPhone X running iOS 11.4 when they've been opened before. They still load faster on iPhone X when I'm launching an app that was previously closed in multitasking, but it's definitely faster than before.

The Camera app loads at the exact same speed as it does on my iPhone X in iOS 11. Whether I'm tapping in from the app, loading from Control Center, or swiping left from the Lock screen. There is no hesitation.

You have no idea how good it feels to see my iPhone SE working as fast and smooth as an iPhone X. I'm so proud of the little guy.

My iPhone SE finally feels like a pro

People with newer devices aren't as likely to notice the performance improvements. Your iPhone is already speedy! These changes are going to really feel good to iPhone owners that haven't upgraded in a couple of years. I noticed it as soon as I started using my iPhone SE with the iOS 12 public beta 1.

If you're still holding on to the four-inch form factor and your favorite mobile device is the iPhone SE. You don't have to wish so hard for the second-generation version now. With iOS 12, your iPhone SE is going to feel new again, which will make you much happier as you wait for the rumored SE 2.

Remember: iOS 12 is still in beta. The performance improvements I talk about here may not necessarily be the same when the software update launches to the public this fall.

Have you tried it?

Are you running the beta of iOS 12 on an iPhone SE? Have you noticed the performance improvements? Tell me about your experience in the comments section.

Running beta software

Main