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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  • eek2121 - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    I am using my 11 pro max with one hand right now. Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Sunday, April 26, 2020 - link

    I bet you are, I bet you are... just clean up the area when you are done, and close down Pornhub. Reply
  • Maltz - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    I've never understood this raging debate. Why is it so hard to understand that some people want one-handed operation, and other people want larger screens? They make both, so what's the problem? Reply
  • eek2121 - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    The people slamming phones with big screens have no basis for doing so IMO. Excluding hand sizes, some of us like large phones with giant high resolution screens. You won’t find me complaining about the 11 Pro Max, for example. I don’t have big hands, but I enjoy the phone. Reply
  • Retycint - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    That's exactly why. I used to own a Nexus 6, and loved it despite it being humongous. The extra screen estate compared to flagships at the time was such a joy to have.

    But for some reason, these "one handed usage" whiners seems to think that only their opinion is correct and acceptable, and everyone else is somehow wrong despite it being a matter of personal preference
    Reply
  • boozed - Saturday, April 25, 2020 - link

    You can't get high end components without having to also get a gigantic screen. There's the rub. Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Sunday, April 26, 2020 - link

    Well when I buy a gigantic screen I EXPECT high end components Reply
  • nathanddrews - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    Bought one for my mom to upgrade her Lumia 635. She always complains about larger phones and doesn't understand why her Windows Phone doesn't "time face" with her grandkids. This should last her many, many years. Reply
  • Speedfriend - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    I don't see the excitement about this phone. For most who will buy this phone, the speed and GPU is meaningless. But you get a screen size and shape from years ago, a mediocre camera, mediocre battery life. Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    The excitement is that it's finally an iPhone at a price that represents decent value. At a time when the Android vendors seem to be going for thousand-dollar flagships, and the global economy is suffering its worst downturn in years, this phone is gonna sell like hotcakes. Reply

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