iPhone SE 3 (2022) vs SE 2 (2020): Should you upgrade?

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

The iPhone SE 3 and iPhone SE 2 are so similar that you can't really tell them apart if you hold them side-by-side. The form factor and camera hardware remains the same, as well as the color availability and display. There are some pretty significant differences between the two, but they are invisible to the naked eye. The chart of technical specifications below will help to lay out those distinctions.

iPhone SE 3 (2022) vs SE 2 (2020): Key Differences

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone SE 3iPhone SE 2
DesignCeramic Shield front + back and aluminum frameGlass front and back
Display4.7‑inch LED display4.7‑inch LED display
ProcessorA15 BionicA13 Bionic
Camera12MP wide rear, 7MP front12MP wide rear, 7MP front
Storage64GB, 128GB, 256GB + 4GB RAM64GB, 128GB, 256GB + 3GB RAM
BatteryFast charging (20W charger sold separately), Qi wireless chargingFast charging (20W charger sold separately), Qi wireless charging
IP ratingIP67IP67
Headphone jackNoneNone
Size and weight5.45x2.65x0.29 inches, 144 g5.45x2.65x0.29 inches, 144 g
SoftwareiOS 15iOS 15
PriceFrom $429From $399

There are a lot of similarities in this chart, but the differences are significant, the most signifiant being the upgraded A15 bionic chip. The SE 3 also has an added gigabyte of RAM, a stronger ceramic shield screen, and longer battery life. Other than that, it's pretty much the same smartphone.

iPhone SE 3 (2022) vs SE 2 (2020) Design: Nothing much to see here

Iphone Se 3 Vs Iphone 2 Inhand

Iphone Se 3 Vs Iphone 2 Inhand (Image credit: iMore)

As mentioned above, the design of these two iPhone models is visually identical. They share the same super-slim size and shape, so any of the cases or accessories used for the 2020 model of iPhone SE can also be used for the 2022 version. Even the color choices remain the same. There is one difference, though.

The only real design change here is the material used for the glass screen and back plate.

The only real design change here is the material used for the glass screen and back plate. The SE 3 uses Apple's ceramic shield glass for stronger, more crack-proof durability. This means that if you drop an iPhone SE 2, it will be more likely to crack or break than the iPhone SE 3. Other than that, all other design and display features remain the same.

iPhone SE 3 (2022) vs SE 2 (2020) Performance: The SE 3 brings speed and efficiency

Iphone Se 3 Vs Iphone Se 2 Performance

Iphone Se 3 Vs Iphone Se 2 Performance (Image credit: iMore)

Now here's where we can really see the iPhone SE 3 pulling ahead. The A15 bionic chip is the most powerful processor ever seen in a smartphone, and it's even in the current best iPhone, the iPhone 13. It brings lightning speed performance to the SE 3 for all types of tasks, from gaming to video editing. This also lends to an improvement in graphics and computational photography. For example, because of the updated chip, the iPhone SE 3 can support newer features like Deep Fusion and Photographic Styles. The A13 chip in the iPhone SE 2 is also quite good, but it's not going to produce the same results as the A15.

Overall, performance is where the iPhone SE 3 really excels over its predecessor.

Another upgrade on the SE 3 is battery life. Due to the more efficient A15 chip, the iPhone SE 3 has extended battery life up for up to two more hours of use over the iPhone SE 2. The two models have the same size battery, but the newer model is simply more efficient. The SE 3 also has more RAM, which will help increase speed and efficiency as well. Overall, performance is where the iPhone SE 3 really excels over its predecessor.

iPhone SE 3 (2022) vs SE 2 (2020) Price: The SE 2 wins on affordability

The only outright advantage that the iPhone SE 2 has over the SE 3 is its price tag. The 2020 version starts at $398 brand new, or you can find even more affordable options if you buy it renewed. As for the iPhone SE 3, you won't find it for less than $429, and that's the base model. It's not an enormous difference in price, but it's significant if you're watching your budget. If you just bought an iPhone SE 2 in 2020, then dropping over $400 on a new iPhone so soon may not seem justified.

iPhone SE 3 (2022) vs Galaxy S22: Should you upgrade?

Iphone Se 3 2022 Vs Iphone Se

Iphone Se 3 2022 Vs Iphone Se (Image credit: iMore)

As you can see, the differences between the iPhone SE 2 and the SE 3 are significant, but not life-changing. There's no great improvements on design, display, or camera quality. For most users who just purchased an SE 2 in 2020, a new iPhone SE 3 so soon is probably not a worthwhile purchase.

On the other hand, if your iPhone SE 2 is too slow to support your usage habits, or if you feel that your battery is running down too quickly, then an upgrade may be justifiable. People who are rough on their phones will certainly also appreciate the stronger ceramic shield glass on the SE 3. If you think that the upgrades on the iPhone SE 3 will make a significant improvement in your daily use, go for it! But overall, the two handsets are very similar in appearance and hardware.

Jaclyn Kilani

Jaclyn Kilani is a content writer at iMore. She's a longtime Apple addict with a flair for creating (written works, design, photos; you name it!) on her devices. Jaclyn has also worked in the marketing sector for over 16 years, dabbling in a bit of everything from writing to graphic design and digital marketing. In her heart of hearts, however, she is a born writer and an avid reader who adores everything about the written word. Someday she may even churn out a book or two. Throughout her career, Jaclyn has also developed something of an addiction to all things Apple. Her professional and personal life is enhanced by an ever-growing collection of iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Apple Watches, and even AirTags. Luckily, this expensive habit is of great use to her work at iMore, where she writes with authority on Apple products and the accessories that go with them.