I bought the 2022 iPhone SE to review – that’s all. I thought I’d use it for two or three weeks and then switch back to my beloved iPhone 13 mini.
However, nearly two months in, I’m still using Apple’s cheapest iPhone. It’s my main daily driver, and the phone I pick up before my super expensive Galaxy S22 Ultra.
This has surprised me. Because, as it stands, I have no immediate desire to go back to the iPhone 13 mini.
What’s going on?
I don’t miss the bells and whistles
The iPhone SE still has a home button and two great, big bezels above and below the screen. It is, to all intents and purposes, an iPhone 8 with a modern chip in it.
The camera is ok, but you’re limited to one lens. There’s no Face ID, either – you have to ‘make do’ with Touch ID instead.
But I don’t miss any of the stuff that comes with my iPhone 13 mini. During day-to-day life, there isn’t a moment when I think, “oh, damn, I wish I had Face ID right now”, or, “if only those big bezels weren’t there”. I just use the thing, and it works, spectacularly.
Sure, there have been times when I’d like an ultra-wide lens. I’m also still re-training myself to exit apps by clicking the home button. But these aren’t dealbreakers if you want the most affordable entry point into iOS. As it turns out, they’re not even dealbreakers for a long-term flagship iPhone user.
It’s faster than my S22 Ultra
I had a big old rant about the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra recently, during which I noted that I’m often more inclined to pick up my iPhone SE if I need to get something done.
The S22 Ultra has been my daily Android device since February and it has been one of the most disappointing smartphone experiences I’ve ever endured. That beautiful screen (the best I’ve seen, by quite a margin), iPhone-like build quality, and iPhone 13 Pro Max-beating camera is ruined by Samsung’s stupid international chip policy.
The fact that the iPhone SE is a vastly more capable smartphone than Samsung’s latest flagship (in the UK, at least) reaffirms Apple’s true superpowers. They’re in full control of the hardware, software, and everything in between. They also maintain chip consistency across the planet, and iOS is their own. What they say, goes, and it’s nearly always in the best interests of the user.
No matter what you think about Apple’s profit-focused drive to continually pump out old hardware, the iPhone SE’s ability to outperform a device that costs three times as much says far more about their approach to user experience.
I quite like throwing it about
My iPhone SE has several scratches on the screen. I think this is mainly because the glass isn’t quite as toughened as the likes of the iPhone 13 mini (trust me, I’ve tried to break that one), but it’s also because this has truly become a ‘chuck it about’ iPhone for me.
Regular readers will chuckle at this, but I’m usually pretty careful with my tech. It takes many months of ownership before I’m comfortable placing my phone directly onto any hard surface without a case, and I ensure it always gets slipped into a completely empty trouser pocket.
I adopted this approach with the iPhone SE for a couple of weeks but quickly became far more casual with it. I began placing it face-down (without a screen protector) on various tables and slipping it carelessly into my pocket, without checking for any scratchy hazards first.
The iPhone SE has been chucked into various bags, shoved unceremoniously into my bike handlebar case, and left open to all manner of potential hazards in the car’s loose change tray.
It’s liberating. And, despite those minor scratches on the screen, it looks as good as new.
I keep coming back to the fact that I don’t miss the bells and whistles of the iPhone SE’s more expensive siblings. As noted earlier, when you start using a lesser phone as your daily driver, you realise how superfluous a lot of that stuff is.
This doesn’t make Face ID, tiny bezels, MagSafe, and supercharged camera systems a waste of time, but it does reveal how hard those features have to fight to make the additional outlay worthwhile.
It also illustrates the task Apple and every other smartphone manufacturer has these days when it comes to convincing us to part with our hard-earned money, rather than sticking with what we already have. The iPhone SE, for all of its detractors (I’ve long been one of them), confirms that, sometimes, enough really is enough.