iPhone SE 2020 review: the best entry-level iPhone ever

Every year, many people look forward to September, when Apple presents the new iPhones. But once in a while, new iPhones will be released in between. After the iPhone SE in 2016, the iPhone SE is back in 2020. The same name, but a completely new device with super fast performance, a larger screen, a better camera and much more. The iPhone SE 2020 is certainly not for everyone, but in our opinion it is the best entry-level iPhone that Apple has ever released. Why this is, you can read in this review of the iPhone SE 2020.

At first glance, the iPhone SE 2020 seems like an average iPhone 8, but the device still offers enough improvements to be enthusiastic about. Especially for the starting price of € 489. The iPhone SE 2020 blows over many competitors of this price level and is therefore the perfect model for many people. You don’t have the latest techniques, but how bad is that actually? In this iPhone SE 2020 review we discuss all the pros and cons and you read our final opinion.

Review text and photography: Benjamin Kuijten (@BenjaminRK) and Gonny van der Zwaag (@gonny). Our test sample is a black iPhone SE 2020 with 256GB storage and is made available by Apple.

  • Conclusion
  • Introduction
  • Design
  • Screen
  • Hardware
  • Camera
  • Battery
  • For whom
  • To buy

Buy iPhone SE 2020

You can now order the iPhone SE 2020 in the Netherlands from all providers, telecom shops and Apple itself. The first aircraft were delivered on Friday April 24. Do you also want to have it at home quickly? Check our article about delivery times and check below which stores you can go to. Read more in our article about ordering the iPhone SE 2020.

  • View at T-Mobile
  • View at Tele2
  • View at Mobile
  • View at KPN
  • View at Vodafone (incl. 6 months free Apple Music)

  • View at Belsimpel

Order iPhone SE 2020 separately (starting price € 489)

You can also contact these shops and providers:

  • Order from BCC
  • Order from Bol.com
  • Order at Belsimpel.nl
  • Order at Mobiel.nl
  • Order from Mediamarkt
  • Order from Amac
  • Order at YourMacStore
  • Order from Coolblue

Design iPhone SE 2020

  • Same design as iPhone 8
  • Glass back with aluminum housing
  • 4.7-inch size with home button
  • Three colors: black, white and red

The 4.7-inch format is described by Apple as “our most popular format”. Not surprising, if you know that 4.7-inch iPhones were released from 2014 to 2017. However, many former iPhone SE users will disagree: they especially longed for a new iPhone in that compact housing. For the time being, this is the format we have to do it with and that is in our opinion absolutely no punishment. The 4.7-inch format is handy enough to be easy to take with you, and at the same time pleasant to work on. The iPhone SE 2020 is easy to operate with one hand and you simply put it in your pocket. In our opinion, a smaller housing feels somewhat convulsive.

iPhone SE 2020 review: with case.

On the other hand, it is just what you are used to. If you come from a 4-inch iPhone SE, then the new iPhone SE 2020 will take some getting used to in the beginning. But we think even the strongest proponents of the old iPhone SE format can get used to the new iPhone SE.

The back of the iPhone SE 2020 is made of glass, just like the iPhone 8, so that wireless charging is possible. We still find the aluminum back of, for example, the iPhone 7 a bit more beautiful, but that design is not suitable for wireless charging. The edge of the device is made of high-quality aluminum and immediately feels familiar. We think the shiny stainless steel edge of the Pro-iPhones is a bit more beautiful, but that also makes the device a lot heavier and more expensive.

The 4.7-inch design also means that there are a lot of black screen edges on the top and bottom of the device. If you’ve been using an iPhone with Face ID for a while, that’s a bit of a shock at first. The design may therefore seem a bit outdated, but we have no problems with this at all. The design of the iPhone SE is still timeless and can still be used in 2020, especially for the target group for which this device is suitable. Apple now has something for everyone in the range.

iPhone SE 2020 review unpacked.

To hide the screen edge a bit, all models are equipped with a black front. Even the white iPhone SE 2020 has a black front, for the first time with an iPhone with this design. In our opinion, that is also a bit calmer on the eyes than the bright white of, for example, the previous models.


In terms of colors, Apple has chosen three variations: black, white and red. It is emphatically not about space gray and silver, as is the case with the iPhone 8, for example. We have tested the black iPhone SE 2020 and compared it with a space gray iPhone 8. At the back we hardly see any difference in color, but the aluminum edge of the iPhone SE is considerably darker. It therefore looks more like the colors of the iPhone XR and iPhone 11. We like the red version the most, because it stands out a bit more. Black and white are less exciting in that respect. Especially because the design itself is not so innovative, we find a striking color a bit more fun.

iPhone SE 2020 vs iPhone 8 stacked up.

Another nice detail is that Apple has moved the Apple logo on the back so that it sits exactly in the middle just like on the latest iPhones. The word “iPhone” has also been removed, which means that the back is a lot cleanere look. It is a pity that the European version still has a CE mark and a trash can.

IPhone SE 2020 screen

  • 4.7-inch LCD screen
  • Retina resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels
  • True Tone and Haptic Touch
  • Wide screen edges
  • Aspect ratio 16: 9 (identical to videos)
  • No notch, no Face ID

A 4.7-inch screen in a contemporary iPhone may seem a bit small, but the small size is the reason why many people wanted the previous iPhone SE. This time, Apple has opted for a slightly larger Retina screen, which is also easy to read outdoors. The screen supports True Tone, so the color tone automatically adjusts to the ambient light.

Since we are used to the larger screens at the Techzle editorial team, we were curious about what it is like to step back to a 4.7-inch screen. Fortunately, that is not so bad. If you hold the iPhone on its side to watch a movie, the 6.1-inch screen of an iPhone 11 does not make much difference. The main thing is that the screen is less stretched in width than the newer models. There is a strip on both sides, but you do not notice that because the aspect ratio 16: 9 is exactly identical to that of many films. You do not miss that strip. You also get no black bars on the sides. Recent iPhones (with Face ID) have an aspect ratio of 19.5: 9 and are therefore somewhat longer. For comparison, the 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone SE measures 104.1 x 58.5 mm and that of the 6.1-inch iPhone 11 measures 139.7 x 64.6 mm. The screen area is about 33 percent smaller.

Speaking of movies, don’t expect an impressive HD experience on the iPhone SE 2020. The screen has a resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels, which is far from Full HD or 1080p. Rather it comes close to the 720p. In terms of brightness, however, we have no complaints and we are also fine with regard to color reproduction.

iPhone SE 2020 review: in dock with screen.

We understand that there is no high-end OLED screen in this device. The target group of this smartphone are people who are ready for a new iPhone and do not want to pay too much. An OLED screen had made the device unnecessarily more expensive; for many people it doesn’t add much. You should keep in mind that this device still has the wide screen edges (bezels). Many people who switch from an older iPhone are already used to this, so it shouldn’t be a problem. But if you were ready for a model with narrower edges, then you will have to look at the other models.

The fact is that Android manufacturers in the same price range can get devices with a larger screen up to 6.5-inch and sometimes even OLED. Only then do you not have the ease of use and long life of an iPhone.

Hardware and performance iPhone SE 2020

  • Latest generation A13 Bionic chip, same as in iPhone 11 series
  • Third-generation Neural Engine
  • Splash, water and dust resistant (IP67)
  • Second generation Touch ID
  • 64GB, 128GB or 256GB storage
  • Wi-Fi 6 and 4G
  • No U1 chip

The appearance may date from 2017, but on the inside you get the technology of 2019. Apple has used the same A13 Bionic chip that you also find in the iPhone 11 (Pro). That may be a little overkill for a budget device, but it also means that you will get updates for a long time. The SE also gets all the updates that will appear for the high-end iPhone 11 Pro. It also means that you don’t have to worry about performance: games, photo editing, everything works just as smoothly.

We have been using the iPhone 11 Pro (Max) in the editorial for a few months now and it did not feel like a step backwards in terms of performance to start using the iPhone SE 2020. You can install all apps and games, it works perfectly with Apple Arcade and apps load nice and fast. This is a big plus compared to the iPhone 8, which is less future-proof. Androiddevice makers often put an older or weaker processor in their entry-level models, but Apple doesn’t.

In Geekbench 5, we scored around 1330 on single-core and 3250 on multi-core. This is comparable to the iPhone 11, yet another proof that you really get the same performance. This is in terms of performance at the level of the Samsung Galaxy S20, which scores slightly lower with 3,150 points (multi-core).

iPhone SE 2020 review: back in hand.

Also nice is that Apple has put the latest version of Wi-Fi 6 in it and that it has 4G with dual sim and eSIM support. Please note that you do not get 4G top speeds. The SE has 2 × 2 MIMO antennas and can handle up to 600 Mbit / s while the iPhone 11 series features 4 × 4 MIMO. Although we wonder how often the average user of the SE will use a network that offers speeds in excess of 600 Mbit / s. So no deal breaker.

What is missing

That does not mean that you get everything you find on the iPhone 11. You don’t get dual cameras, no Face ID, no U1 chip, and it doesn’t include a 5G and LiDAR Scanner, which are said to be coming to the iPhone this fall. Apple apparently does not consider the U1 chip and the LiDAR Scanner necessary. However, we are sorry that the U1 chip is missing. That would have made the iPhone SE even more future-proof.

What Apple did find important is that this device is suitable for its own payment services Apple Arcade and Apple TV + and that may explain the choice for the somewhat larger screen and the fast processor, compared to the 2016 model. And because the processor has to drive fewer pixels, you benefit from a nice long battery life of 13 hours. With 3GB RAM, the device can work well.

More storage

We’ve seen it recently with other products like the iPad and MacBook: doubling the storage. With the iPhone SE 2020 you also get more storage for your money. In 2016, the entry-level model still had a meager 16GB, now you get at least 64GB and if that is not enough you can upgrade for five tens to the model with 128GB storage. If you were already against the storage limits with your current iPhone and plan to do a lot with it, we recommend the 128GB model.

If you previously had an iPhone SE with fingerprint scanner, you will notice that Touch ID has become a lot faster in the new device. Apple used the second generation. It is no longer a physically compressible button, but a round surface with a haptic effect, caused by a vibrating motor. This gives a realistic feeling, making it look like you are really pressing a button. You’ll find the same unimpressible button in the iPhone 7 and 8, so Apple has a lot of experience with it already.

The performance of the iPhone SE 2020 is at the level of the Samsung Galaxy S20, which is much more expensiveTweet it

The speakers are located at the bottom and top and sound loud enough to watch a short YouTube video. Stereo is also supported. Spatial audio, a feature that Apple introduced with the iPhone 11 series, is missing. If you want to look a little longer, you will usually do so through earplugs. This is possible with the included EarPods, equipped with a Lightning connection. There is no longer a 3.5mm headphone jack on this smartphone, something that Apple has already stopped with the iPhone 7. If you want to do this, you are dependent on an adapter or Android-devices.

Finally, the water and dust resistance. It has now been raised to IP67 and that means that your iPhone is not immediately water damage if you accidentally throw it in the water – a good development.

Camera iPhone SE 2020

  • Single rear camera: 12-megapixel wide-angle lens
  • 7-megapixel front camera
  • Portrait mode via software (front and rear)
  • 4K video movies at 60 frames per second
  • Support for QuickTake and Smart HDR

The iPhone SE 2020 has almost the same camera as the iPhone 8, but Apple has managed to improve some aspects. On the back we find a single camera of 12-megapixel. So you do not have an ultra-wide-angle lens or telephoto lens to zoom in or out extra. We did not expect that either, because for the target group of this device that is too much of a good thing. With the single camera, the iPhone SE also takes great photos. In normal daylight, the photos are comparable to those of the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro, although the iPhone SE has a bit more trouble with light. That is possible because of the lack of Deep Fusion, the technique that we only find on the iPhone 11 series thanks to the powerful A13 chip and Neural Engine. Although the iPhone SE 2020 has the same chip, it does not have a Deep Fusion. This technique analyzes every pixel of a photo and produces images with more texture, detail and reduced noise. The lack of Deep Fusion is especially noticeable in photos with poor lighting.

Speaking of which, the iPhone SE doesn’t support iPhone camera night mode either. On the iPhone 11 series, you take better photos in a dark setting, which often produces very nice pictures. That means that photos in the dark look a lot less beautiful with the iPhone SE and often contain noise. If you often want to shoot in the dark, the iPhone SE is not for you. Why Apple has not equipped the iPhone SE with a night mode is unclear to us. It may have to do with lesser sensors, because it is not the processor. We are sorry that this mode is missing, because this really makes the difference for a good night photo. For average use, the iPhone SE takes great photos. If you don’t care about the very best specifications and you only take photos sporadically, then you can easily use them.

This is partly due to support for Smart HDR, which is not available on, for example, the iPhone 8. The processor combines the exposure of several photos into one nicer picture. A disadvantage of this is that it is only available on the rear camera.

iPhone SE 2020 review: photo of garden.

For the front camera, Apple uses the same 7-megapixel camera as in the iPhone 8. Photos are rather disappointing, especially if you compare this with the iPhone 11 series. The extra wide viewing angle is also missing, for example when making group selfies.

Portrait mode on both lenses

Apple did manage to add portrait mode on both the front and rear cameras. This allows you to take beautiful portrait photos of people, whereby the background becomes blurred and the person comes into focus. You can choose between multiple lighting effects. That often produces some strange cut-out images, although we also find that with the iPhone 11 series. A LiDAR Scanner could make this a lot better, but we do not yet find it on the iPhone.

Portrait mode on the iPhone SE makes full use of the Neural Engine and the A13 Bionic chip. The depth effect is simulated with the help of software. An analysis of the portrait mode of the iPhone SE shows that the Neural Engine is capable of estimating depth and clearly foreground objects, without additional camera lenses can help. In practice, that also produces quite nice pictures, even with the front camera. Because Apple wants to give the best results with the means that the iPhone SE offers, the portrait mode is limited to people. If you also want to take a portrait photo of animals and objects with this device, you can, for example, use the fine camera app Halide.

iPhone SE 2020 review: portrait photo vs iPhone 11 Pro.

The iPhone SE 2020 makes beautiful videos for video films. The camera supports 4K video movies up to 60 frames per second. Videos therefore look smooth, even at the highest possible resolution. Editing a video is also a piece of cake, although we noticed that this costs the iPhone SE a lot of power and energy.

Battery and battery life

  • Same battery life as iPhone 8 (13 hours of video playback)
  • Suitable for wireless charging at 7.5W
  • Supplied with standard 5W charger and Lightning to USB cable

With the iPhone 11 series, Apple was able to extend the battery life by a few hours. Was that successful with this device? Unfortunately not, because the iPhone SE 2020 lasts about as long as the iPhone 8. In numbers, that means 13 hours of video or 40 hours of audio playback. We expected a bit more, especially considering the optimizations in the A13 Bionic chip. Although you can easily get through the day with the iPhone SE 2020 with average use, we did notice that the battery drains faster with heavier tasks. All in all, we are satisfied with the battery life of the new iPhone SE, but we are sorry that Apple has not gone the extra mile.

You can charge with the included 5W charger and Lightning cable. Even for such an affordable iPhone, we find the included charger on the weak side. The iPhone SE is suitable for fast charging and it hardly costs Apple anything to deliver it immediately. Currently they only do that with the iPhone 11 Pro, so it is no surprise that the iPhone SE does not have that. Despite that, we are still a bit disappointed in this.

iPhone SE 2020 review back in the dock.

For those who want to charge without a cable, you can also use the iPhone SE with a wireless Qi charger. Each Qi charger is suitable, up to a maximum speed of 7.5W. That’s as fast as any other iPhones that support wireless charging, including the iPhone 11 series. As far as we are concerned, that speed may be increased to at least 10W in 2020, especially because many wireless chargers can handle this without difficulty. Nevertheless, it is nice to have the convenience of wireless charging available, although you have to buy a separate charger for it.

Even for the affordable iPhone SE 2020, we find the included 5W charger on the weak sideTweet it

For whom is the iPhone SE 2020 suitable?

It is not difficult to predict who will be most charmed by this entry-level iPhone: people who do not often switch to another device, but are now really ready for a new one. Apple has made some serious performance improvements while keeping the cost of this phone as low as possible using existing components. It will therefore especially appeal to the no-nonsense iPhone user, who pays attention to the money and wants a good device that will last for years.

Of course there are always people who want the best and the latest, but for all other people (and that may be the vast majority) this is the ideal device. We would immediately recommend the iPhone SE 2020 to family and friends who are looking for something new and do not find the smaller screen a problem.

There are certainly alternatives, also at Apple itself. You could opt for the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8, but they are a lot older in terms of technology and will receive updates for a shorter time. Moreover, we did not see really good deals yet. At the time of writing, you still pay around 530 euros for a 64GB iPhone 8 (from 2017). For less money you have an iPhone SE 2020 that looks exactly the same, but is much newer inside.

You could also opt for the iPhone XR, if you want a slightly larger 6.1-inch screen with Face ID. You can find it in the store for around 600 euros, also with 64GB storage. Also check our iPhone comparison with all models in a row.

Alternatives to the competition

Looking at the competition, the Google Pixel 3a comes close, an Android phone for the smaller purse. This has a larger screen and is available for around 350 euros, more than a hundred euros less than you pay for the iPhone SE 2020. However, the iPhone is faster and has a better camera. You could also wait for the Google Pixel 4a, which has not yet been announced and probably has a better camera. But we can already say with certainty that Google will not beat the performance of the A13 Bionic. This also applies to all other Android devices that you see in the store for less money.

The iPhone SE is a device that you will be using for about five years. Updates will continue to come in much longer, because if the device is ever removed from the store, Apple will continue to update for another five years. Keep in mind that you want to have the battery replaced after about three years (this will only cost you € 55), because in a few years’ time, not the performance but wear and tear on the battery will be your biggest problem.

This is a great device for people who want to buy a device and no longer want to think about it. If the iPhone is just a normal utensil for you, then the SE is definitely for you.



iPhone SE 2020

iPhone SE 2020

From € 489


  • Affordable, without sacrificing performance
  • Powerful processor
  • Great camera
  • Years of support with software updates
  • Nice screen


  • Battery life could have been longer
  • Night mode for camera is missing
  • Not the best choice for everyone
  • Mediocre selfie camera

Conclusion iPhone SE 2020 review

The iPhone SE is made for a clear target group: anyone who is looking for a reliable and affordable iPhone that lasts and does not need triple camera lenses and dazzling techniques such as Deep Fusion and Face ID. The iPhone SE 2020 is not the device bursting with innovation, but it is not necessary at all. It fills the gap in the line-up left by the discontinuation of the earlier iPhone SE. The iPhone SE 2020 is lightning fast, familiar and of a quality that you expect from Apple for this price. We do not mind that the device resembles an older model. The iPhone SE 2020 may not appeal to everyone, but this iPhone is not intended for that.

The iPhone SE 2020 is the best entry-level iPhone ever. In terms of price-quality ratio, it is all rightTweet it

We are sorry that Apple has dropped some stitches. The lack of night mode with the camera is a shame even at this price and a longer battery life would certainly have been welcome. Nevertheless, the whole package together makes this the best entry-level iPhone Apple has ever made. In terms of price-quality ratio, it is therefore quite right.

Separate device or subscription

Do you want to buy a separate iPhone SE 2020? Then you can go to a large number of shops. The iPhone SE with subscription is now also available from all providers.

Buy iPhone SE 2020

You can now order the iPhone SE 2020 in the Netherlands from all providers, telecom shops and Apple itself. The first aircraft were delivered on Friday April 24. Do you also want to have it at home quickly? Check our article about delivery times and check below which stores you can go to. Read more in our article about ordering the iPhone SE 2020.

  • View at T-Mobile
  • View at Tele2
  • View at Mobile
  • View at KPN
  • View at Vodafone (incl. 6 months free Apple Music)

  • View at Belsimpel

Order iPhone SE 2020 separately (starting price € 489)

You can also contact these shops and providers:

  • Order from BCC
  • Order from Bol.com
  • Order at Belsimpel.nl
  • Order at Mobiel.nl
  • Order from Mediamarkt
  • Order from Amac
  • Order at YourMacStore
  • Order from Coolblue
  • 64GB
  • 128GB
  • 256GB

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