the cheapest iPhone (529 euros) finds its way between yesterday and today

“From 529 euros”. The main argument of the new iPhone SE launched this Friday, March 18 is undoubtedly its price. At this price, Apple offers the new version of its SE in 64 GB*, whose previous version, marketed in 2020 in full containment, cost 489 euros, or 40 euros less. While purchasing power has become the number one concern of the French, what does this Apple-branded smartphone really offer? 20 Minutes was able to test it before it goes on sale this Friday.

An almost vintage design

It’s an iPhone. The familiar face of the SE cru 2022 will not surprise anyone. Apple uses, as for the previous edition of the SE, an iPhone 8 base. One would have hoped to see this version finally rid of its Touch ID button on the front, and its two large horizontal black bands in favor of a full screen 4.7 inches. But no. If it is small (which is not necessarily a handicap in the age of giant 6 ” smartphones that deform our pockets), the iPhone SE is nevertheless pumped up with the brand’s latest technologies at Apple.

The firepower of an iPhone 13

Because inside the SE, the heart of the iPhone 13 beats. The A15 Bionic chip drives the terminal and Apple promises the same performance as its flagship. Not bad, for an entry-level model… We were able to verify it, the youngest is a monster of speed that nothing can stop, with exemplary responsiveness and fluidity that gaming fans are likely to particularly appreciate. On this ground, not a competitor who comes close to him.

The new iPhone SE integrates the A15 Bionic chip.
The new iPhone SE integrates the A15 Bionic chip. – CAPTURE

Yes, but to enjoy such a spectacle, its LCD screen with HD definition (1334 x 750 pixels) is very small, not HDR, and weighed down by its too visible black bands. It’s hard to accept that Apple has not adopted at the start of 2022 for this new SE the philosophy of the iPhone X released in 2017, and its 5.8-inch edge-to-edge OLED screen. To the eye, however, the image remains very attractive, bright, with a wide range of colors. The two stereo speakers allow you to do without headphones or earphones and enjoy rather good sound.

Better night shots

Integrating only one rear photo sensor, the SE lags behind its better equipped competitors. Even if through iOS, the terminal offers a complete and state-of-the-art photo interface (including the arrival of photo presets called Photographic Styles), the 12 megapixels (f / 1.8, with 5x digital zoom) on board are struggling. The photos are honorable, but far in terms of precision and detail from what we get today on many mid-range smartphones. Advanced, nevertheless in low light. The treatment now operated (thanks to the A15 Bionic!) allows the user to be more daring at night in the viewfinder. On arrival less noisy photos.

The Touch ID button is resisting on the new iPhone SE.
The Touch ID button is resisting on the new iPhone SE. – CHRISTOPHE SEFRIN/20 MINUTES

For selfies, Apple keeps the 7 megapixels (f / 2.2) already on board the previous SE. But here again, the user will be able to take advantage of current software advances. In Portrait mode, the photos taken are thus very successful.

The iPhone SE is also 5G. Another argument, of course, but which is perhaps not the one that will first affect its potential buyers, who may not have the budget to afford a very high speed package. And who are above all in search of autonomy. Here, count a good day of use.

What if the iPhone 11 was the option?

Remains an iPhone at a tight price. A gateway to the Apple universe for many, no doubt. There is also a smartphone that blows hot and cold. Like an old car whose engine would have been replaced and the upholstery changed, the iPhone SE benefits from a nice update with the arrival of 5G and a processor doped with hormones. It will go far, of course, but also risks creating frustrations.

So much so that one wonders if, for 60 euros more in 64 GB, the purchase of a iPhone 11 is not a better choice. Admittedly, number 11 will only be 4G and will not have the resources of the A15 Bionic chip (but the A13 Bionic which was already not so bad!). It will be displayed with a full 6.1 ” screen, will offer FaceID facial recognition and will take much better photos with dual rear sensors and 12 megapixel front sensor. There are also refurbished ones for less than 400 euros.

*579 euros for 128 GB, and 699 euros for 256 GB.

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