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

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iPhone SE 3 (2022)

Iphone Se Starlight Select

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iPhone SE 2 (2020)

Iphone SeIphone Se

The 2022 release of the iPhone SE 3 looks a lot like the previous generation released in 2020. In fact, it is identical in size and appearance. But this newer model has a few big advancements hiding inside.

$429 at Apple


  • A15 bionic chip
  • More durable ceramic shield screen
  • Longer battery life
  • 5G connectivity

The iPhone SE 2 (2020) has a small, simple form factor that entry-level iPhone users love. It is the most affordable iPhone model you can buy and offers many of the same benefits as bigger, more expensive models.

$398 at Amazon


  • More affordable price
  • Same compact, simple design
  • Powered by Apple silicon


  • Slower processor
  • Less durable build
  • Less battery life

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

iPhone SE 3 iPhone SE 2
Design Ceramic Shield front + back and aluminum frame Glass front and back
Colors Midnight
Display 4.7‑inch LED display 4.7‑inch LED display
Processor A15 Bionic A13 Bionic
Camera 12MP wide rear, 7MP front 12MP wide rear, 7MP front
Storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB + 4GB RAM 64GB, 128GB, 256GB + 3GB RAM
Battery Fast charging (20W charger sold separately), Qi wireless charging Fast charging (20W charger sold separately), Qi wireless charging
IP rating IP67 IP67
headphone jack None None
Size and weight 5.45×2.65×0.29 inches, 144 g 5.45×2.65×0.29 inches, 144 g
Software iOS 15 iOS 15
Price From $429 From $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 InhandSource: 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 PerformanceSource: 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 SeSource: 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.

Fast and efficient

Iphone Se Starlight SelectIphone Se Starlight Select

iPhone SE 3 (2022)

Although it’s not a huge leap forward, the iPhone SE 3 does have some marked improvements in speed, efficiency, and battery life when compared to previous models.

Affordable pick

Iphone SeIphone Se

iPhone SE 2 (2020)

The 2020 iPhone SE 2 may be a little slower than the newer 2022 version, but it is still quite similar in appearance, camera quality, and display. This is still the most affordable iPhone around.

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