System Performance

Performance-wise, the inclusion of the new A13 chip should essentially blow the iPhone 8 out of the water given it’s two generations newer than the A11. For more details about the A13, please read our in-depth coverage of the chip in our review of the iPhone 11 series.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView JetStream 2 - OS Webview

In the steady-state Javascript web benchmarks, the iPhone SE unsurprisingly matches the newer iPhone 11. In JetStream, the phone even gets a boost here, which might be due to the newer iOS version. I haven’t had the chance to re-test the older iPhones, but I’m certain the scores will level out across the A13 generation devices.

WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

On WebXPRT 3, the iPhone SE did score quite a bit worse than the iPhone 11 phones. This test is more interactive in its workloads and more impacted by DVFS responsiveness, rather than just being a continuous stead-state load. It’s very much possible that Apple has tuned down the DVFS of the chip in order to remain at the more power efficient frequency states for more workloads. I haven’t had the time to update Xcode to run our workload ramp test yet – but it’s something that can be easily verified in a follow-up update on the topic.

Update April 29th: 

I was also able to verify the CPU frequencies of the A13 in the iPhone SE, and the phone tracks identical peak frequencies as on the iPhone 11. This means that we're seeing 2.66GHz peak clocks on the Lightning cores when a single core is on, and up to around 2.59GHz when both cores are enabled. The Thunder cores clock in at up to 1.73GHz as well, just as on the iPhone 11’s.

The DVFS of the two phones is also identical – with the same ramp-up times between the SE and the iPhone 11. In general, any performance differences between the new SE and the flagship phones should simply be due to thermal characteristics of the smaller phone, possibly throttling things faster when under more strenuous workloads.

Overall Performance

Whilst I haven’t had too much time on the SE, the first impressions of the device are very much that this is just an as good experience as the iPhone 11 series. Much like on the iPhone 11 series, I actually feel that the raw performance of the hardware is actually hampered by the software, for example animations could be much shorter or even disabled in order to improve the user’s experience of speed and responsiveness. In either case, the iPhone SE’s performance is fantastic, and that’s due to the A13 chipset’s raw power.

Introduction & Design GPU Performance
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  • Alistair - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    it's a long time trick to make screens longer and longer to inflate the specs, you need to look at the width of the screen which is fine, I don't care if it is technically 4.7 inches, you can build a 6 inch screen just as wide, but taller, and I wouldn't want that Reply
  • weevilone - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    I really felt this moving from the 6+ to the 11. The loss of screen width really meant that the display size was a net downgrade regardless of specs. Reply
  • Alistair - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    Yeap for me personally I felt the screen on the original SE was too small, but the iPhone 8 screen size is fine, I just wanted an all screen front (fingerprint on the back). I'll take the SE 2020 though, the screen is wide, but the phone is lightweight. Reply
  • heffeque - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    It's not a trick, it's having a phone that is mostly the size of the screen. I have a Mi 9T and couldn't be happier that it doesn't even have a camera in sight. I can read a lot more text without scrolling, which IMPOV is great. Reply
  • Alistair - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    Also you might have missed it, but the battery life was about the same screen on time as the S20 at 120hz, or more battery life on standby than that phone. Not amazing, but not bad either. Reply
  • sonny73n - Saturday, April 25, 2020 - link

    4 hours of general usage for a fully charged battery in 2020 is LAME. Reply
  • cha0z_ - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - link

    Having iphone 6s as secondary phone - the screen size is fine tbh, tho I would not use anything smaller. Bezels are big, but you got a really good physical FP scanner (can't stress that enough, a top end recent android phones I have are with far inferior FP scanners to the 6s. Including those with physical like the note 9 I have) + in person it does look good and premium. Dunno, hard to explain. Friend of mine have iphone SE and the battery life is quite good actually for the size of the phone/battery. Easily 5-6 hours screen with heavy usage and no power saving features + mobile data a lot of the time, navigation, carplay, calls, music playing and so on... my point is that the battery is not bad at all for daily charging. Fun fact, exynos s20 ultra is not much better at 120Hz in the battery department with it's huge battery. :)

    I totally agree on your last sentence tho, media calling 400$ phones as budget ones is baffling, but yet again - phones now chase the 1500$ mark... so maybe they have a point.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    I know a couple of other holdouts that are probably going to make this their next upgrade. :P

    Good specs and decent price too.
    Reply
  • YB1064 - Monday, April 27, 2020 - link

    I'm still rocking the old 4inch SE as well. One of the best phones ever made. Phones these days are tablets, that require a backpack to carry. Reply
  • yetanotherhuman - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    "outright diminutive stature."

    You spelled "reasonable, normal size for a smartphone" in a weird manner.
    Reply

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