iPhone SE 2020: Long-Term Review26
Back when I first reviewed the iPhone SE in May, I said it was a perfect device to buy for your grandparents or a kid, but probably not a great choice for your main phone, especially if you happen to be a tech enthusiast. So now that I myself have been using it, I still find that to be mostly true, but there are also many things I appreciate about it. So let’s get started with this long-term review of Apple’s cute and tiny SE.
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But first, let me just quickly remind the nitty gritty about this iPhone SE. It comes in the same design as the iPhone 8, iPhone 7 and even iPhone 6 from way back in 2014. Yes, that’s a six year old design. So this means big bezels on the top and the bottom, so none of that edge to edge screen experience, but it also means something else and back then phones were super lightweight and compact, and that’s what’s striking about this here iPhone SE from 2020. It just weighs close to nothing and you don’t feel in your pocket, it’s super comfortable to carry around, and that’s a big plus. Now, I appreciate large phones for all they can do, but I have used the iPhone 11 Pro Max and it’s a giant brick that you have to carry in your pocket, and it’s not comfortable at all.
iPhone SE: small edition!
So yes, the SE is small and lightweight, and that’s great, but unfortunately small also means a small screen, and that has been kind of a stumbling block. I do wish the screen was a bit bigger, for example, the Google Pixel 4a is a phone of a similar size but it has an edge to edge design and that extra screen space comes very handy, especially if you use your phone a lot.
The screen on the SE is just 4.7 inches, and it’s an LCD one, not the newer AMOLED kind. LCD screens and this one in particular appears dim if you look at it at an angle and it’s also lower resolution so you see some jagged edges in letters when reading text. Now, this doesn’t mean that it’s a bad screen. Look at it directly as you would do most of the time, and colors are well balanced, the screen gets bright enough for comfortable use and it looks good, it’s just not modern and doesn’t have those super punchy AMOLED colors.
iPhone SE 2020: Battery Life
The other big thing about the new SE is the battery size. It comes with an 1,800mAh battery, which sounds really really bad considering most other phones have 3,000mAh batteries and bigger. And sometimes it is, but it really depends on how you use your phone. Just doing regular stuff, phone calls, social media, and chats, I had no problem going a full day with it. If you start watching a lot of YouTube videos, or Netflix, or play games, however, the battery just melts.
And oh my god, I had forgotten how convenient and fast and accurate those classic-style fingerprint scanners were. Touch ID is just a god-sent for these mask-toting times, and I have gotten back to my old cowboy style routine of whipping out the phone, spinning it and then quickly placing my thumb on the Touch ID sensor as if pulling the trigger.
Should you buy the iPhone SE 2020?
So is this the right phone for you? Should you buy it? Uhm, that’s a tough one because I really really love how tiny and lightweight, and how sleek it is, and how it performs just fine for daily tasks, and even the small battery has not been a big issue for me. The big deterrent for me is just the screen size, which feels too cramped and I just want a slightly larger screen to properly enjoy my social media, my photos and videos. If there was a slightly larger screen size, I would not hesitate to recommend this phone in a flash. As it is, though, it’s definitely a bit too small.
But there is something else too: a smaller screen phone like the SE is great for a bit of a digital detox. We are bombarded with emails, and notifications, and this smaller screen, while not great to enjoy media, did push me a bit to limit my phone use, and strangely, that’s a thing I actually liked.
So these are my long-term impressions with the iPhone SE 2020 edition. Have you been using it and how do you like it? Would you recommend it?