The iPhone SE (2022) is a fantastic entry point into iOS
Today was Apple's 'Peek Performance' March event, and it dropped plenty of exciting new products for the masses. From the new Mac Studio to the iPad Air 5 to the iPhone SE 3, there was something for everybody.
While the new iPhone SE is not a flagship device like the iPhone 13 lineup, it's still a great device for a specific demographic. Here's why I'm glad Apple upgraded the best budget iPhone with the iPhone SE 3.
iPhone SE 3 is the best entry point to iOS 15
Out of all the iPhones that Apple currently sells, the iPhone SE is the most affordable one. The previous 2020 version started at $399, but the new one now starts at $429. It's a $30 increase, but that's due to the new 5G capabilities, which we'll get to in a bit, so the change is justified.
Despite the price increase, the iPhone SE 3 2022 is still the most inexpensive iPhone. If somebody has never owned an iPhone before and still wants to experience iOS 15, they can do so at a relatively low price point.
Users will also be getting their money's worth. While there are plenty of budget Android devices, it isn't always guaranteed that they'll be supported many years down the line. With Apple, it's pretty much a given that the new iPhone SE will be supported for many years in the future. After all, the company is still supporting the very first iPhone SE from 2016 with iOS 15. Given that knowledge, it's safe to say that the iPhone SE 3 should last through iOS 20, at the very least.
It's still the only iPhone with a Home button
Though I personally was hoping for a design change with the new iPhone SE 3, I know plenty of people who don't want to lose the Home button. While Apple has updated the iPhone SE 3 with new internals, the design remains pretty much the same. We still have the iPhone 8 body, complete with Home button, and a single-lens camera system.
For some people, it's just easier to use the Home button for navigation — it's easier for them and one less thing to worry about. Plus, the Home button has always been an iconic feature of the iPhone. So it seems that Apple is keeping it around for a little while longer, even though the rest of the lineup is sans Home button with a notch.
The A15 brings it in line with the iPhone 13
The biggest surprise to me was the inclusion of the A15 Bionic chip in the iPhone SE 3, which is the same in iPhone 13 devices. In my previous editorial, I was expecting Apple to just put maybe an A14 to make it a little less powerful than the flagship series, but Apple took it a step further with the A15, making the iPhone SE 3 just as fast as iPhone 13 devices while still retaining a Home button.
It's literally perfect for those who prefer having a Home button but still want up-to-date performance without sacrifices. And honestly, you just can't beat that price for the A15 chip.
Better camera features thanks to A15
The biggest reason for Apple to include the A15 seems to be to make the camera better. The hardware is still the same — you have a single 12MP wide camera in the rear with a ƒ/1.8 aperture. But now, the iPhone SE 3 is capable of Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, and Photographic Styles, just like the iPhone 13 devices. And you still have Portrait mode, making the new iPhone SE still a great device for iPhone photography.
Faster downloads with 5G connectivity
Now, you can get 5G speeds with the iPhone SE, which is why the phone costs $30 more than before, but it's a small price to pay to be more modernized with cellular connectivity. 5G used to be uncommon, but it's supported by pretty much every major carrier these days, and even smaller MVNOs. Those who prefer to have a classic iPhone design can now get up-to-date modern cellular technology, and download apps and games faster than ever before when not on a Wi-Fi network.
Of course, one important thing to note is that the iPhone SE 3 will only support sub-6 5G speeds, and not the faster mmwave 5G. However, for most people, this isn't a dealbreaker, as mmwave 5G is still only in very small areas compared to the more broad sub-6 spectrum.
The best budget iPhone just got even better
For most of us, the iPhone SE 3 is not a must-buy because we usually go for the mainline iPhone devices. However, for those who want something affordable, are still holding on to the Home button until it's dead, or even just want their first iPhone, the iPhone SE 3 is hard to beat. It may not be the iPhone for me, per se, but it's a great entry point that shouldn't be ignored.
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Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.