Smartphone and tablet users can be divided into two groups. There are those who always need the latest model. For this category, Apple releases new top-of-the-range iPhones and iPads every autumn. Then there are those who just want a solid device, one they can use for as long as possible without having to spend too much money. This target group is getting more attention from Apple, and at the company’s recent March event we got to see the third generation of the iPhone SE. This device combines Apple’s fastest microprocessor, the A15 Bionic chip, with a vintage design that barely differs from the look of the iPhone 6 from 2014. Compared to the iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone 8 (2017), nothing has changed at all in the case design. Those who switch from these technically outdated models to the new device can even continue to use old accessories such as cases or car dash holders. In the previous model, the iPhone SE (2020), Apple used the A13 processor, which was one year old at the time. Now Apple is giving the SE the freshest technology available. iPhone 13 lifts Apple to highest quarterly earnings ever The A15 chip is what also powers the current top model, the iPhone 13, which means that even the entry-level iPhone model outperforms all the Android competition. There is really only one purpose for so much power in this device class, namely future-proofing. Apple usually supplies its newly introduced smartphones with the latest iOS operating software for at least five years. This means that the current SE will not be obsolete even in 2027. Many corporate buyers who need to provide their staff with business phones without a lot of bells and whistles will also be considering the iPhone SE. There is also a reasonable amount of future-proofing in the wireless hardware. The SE now supports faster mobile data with 5G, even if the antenna is somewhat smaller than on the iPhone 13. While 5G may not yet be the default in most parts of the world, it’s likely to be more common by 2027. In other respects, the differences from the current top model are much more glaring: the display only has a diagonal of 4.7 inches, also because a good third of the surface area is used for the thick bezel and the fingerprint sensor. Unlike on most Android phones and top iPhones, there’s no rich OLED display with deep blacks and colours. Instead, you have to make do with an LCD screen that’s neither particularly bright nor particularly rich in contrast. Foxconn suspends iPhone factories in Shenzhen amid lockdown of tech hub In terms of battery life, however, the SE has brought some improvements. With almost nine hours of continuous use, the battery lasts about an hour longer than the predecessor and charges faster, partly because Apple has improved the battery chemistry. The most significant sacrifice comes with the camera. Although Apple promises a “completely new camera system” for the SE, this apparently only refers to the software, which can draw on the power of the main A15 Bionic chip. The lens and the 12-megapixel sensor, on the other hand, have not changed. That being said, photos still largely look good when shooting in sunlight. It’s only when it gets darker that the weaknesses compared to the iPhone 12 or 13 become painfully obvious, as the iPhone SE does not have the night mode of the flagship iPhones. You can also see the difference when zooming, and things get pixelated pretty fast with the digital 5x zoom. This raises the question of whether the iPhone 12, which Apple is still selling, isn’t the best entry-level choice. The premium for the normal iPhone 12 would be about €280 (US$309). But with the iPhone 12 Mini, the price difference of €160 is still reasonable. The SE with 64GB memory starts at €519, the iPhone 12 Mini at €679. And despite a larger screen, the Mini edition is more compact and has a better camera.