iPhone SE 3 (2022) vs. iPhone 13: Which should you buy?

Apple Iphone Se 3
Apple Iphone Se 3 (Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone SE 3 is the newest iPhone offering from Apple, but it's not a flagship device like the iPhone 13. The iPhone SE 3 is designed for a specific demographic: those who want the most affordable iPhone while also preferring a Home button for Touch ID. But those who want to have the latest and greatest from Apple will want to go for an iPhone 13, which also comes in two sizes: 5.4-inch for the iPhone 13 mini, and 6.1-inch for the regular iPhone 13.

What do you need in an iPhone and how much do you want to spend?

Even though the iPhone SE 3 is the "newest" iPhone from Apple, it's definitely not the flagship, the iPhone 13, which is the best iPhone for most people who want a great set of features. However, the iPhone SE 3 has a lot of overall improvements that make it a great choice to consider if you're brand new to the world of iOS 15, or if you just want something that is incredibly affordable. Plus, the new additions bring it more in line with the iPhone 13 series than ever before.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone SE 3iPhone 13
Display size4.7-inch5.4-inch (mini) or 6.1-inch
DisplayLCD Retina HDOLED Super Retina XDR
Colors
Midnight
Starlight
PRODUCT(RED)

Green
Pink
Blue
Midnight
Starlight
PRODUCT(RED)
5G connectivitySub-6 onlySub-6 and mmwave
ProcessorA15 Bionic chipA15 Bionic chip
Battery15 hours17 hours (mini) or 19 hours (regular)
BiometricsTouch ID with Home buttonFace ID
CameraWide lensWide and Ultra Wide lens
Portrait modeYesYes
Deep FusionYesYes
Smart HDR 4YesYes
Night modeNoYes
Cinematic modeNoYes
4K video recordingNoYes
Front camera7MP FaceTime HD12MP TrueDepth

As you can see, because the iPhone SE 3 now has the A15 Bionic chip, it is caught up to the iPhone 13 series in terms of processor speed. And with 5G connectivity, the iPhone SE 3 is more modernized for today's standards in terms of cellular networks.

A better camera through software for the iPhone SE 3

iPhone SE 2020 Back

iPhone SE 2020 Back (Image credit: iMore)

The A15 Bionic is also responsible for giving the iPhone SE 3 the ability to do more computational photography processes, such as Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, and Photographic Styles, which weren't possible with the iPhone SE 2 (2020). However, what is still absent is Night mode and 4K video recording. The iPhone SE 3 also still only has a 7MP FaceTime HD camera in the front, whereas the iPhone 13 has a much more capable 12MP TrueDepth front camera.

Faster downloading speeds with 5G

The other big addition to the new iPhone SE 3 is the 5G connectivity. Most carriers now support 5G on their networks, so the new iPhone SE 3 can now take advantage of those faster download and upload speeds to connect more people than ever before.

However, it's important to note that the iPhone SE 3 only supports Sub-6 5G, which is available in more places but isn't as fast as mmwave. If you want to have super fast mmwave 5G, then you will need an iPhone 13 device (iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max) to make use of that particular spectrum. But keep in mind that mmwave is very limited in terms of availability for most people, and Sub-6 is the more widely available spectrum.

Should you get an iPhone SE 3 or iPhone 13?

iPhone 13 Review Hero

Iphone 13 Review Hero (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

If you need an iPhone, but don't want to spend a lot, don't need all the latest features, and still prefer having a Home button with Touch ID, then the iPhone SE 3 is the way to go. Because it has A15, the camera is capable of taking better pictures than the previous iteration. But since it's due to the processor and not physical camera upgrades, it still lacks Night mode and 4K video, as well as an Ultra Wide and Telephoto lens. 5G connectivity is also limited to Sub-6 5G, but for pretty much everyone, this should not be an issue because of the limited availability of mmwave.

However, if you aren't too concerned about price, prefer to go with more screen estate with Face ID and OLED, and want camera features like Night mode, 4K video, and a better selfie camera, then you can't beat the iPhone 13. It can also connect to the super-fast mmwave 5G spectrum. Plus, it comes in two sizes: the mini with the 5.4-inch display or the standard iPhone 13 with a 6.1-inch display. The iPhone 13 is also compatible with the best MagSafe accessories, opening up an entirely new world of possibilities in terms of charging and using your device.

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.