iPhone 16 vs iPhone SE 2022: It’s worth paying the extra buck

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Intro

We are patiently waiting for Apple’s next base flagship, the iPhone 16, which we expect to come with lots of AI-centric features to catch up to the competition. But what if you don’t want to spend a premium price on a brand new iPhone? Well, you still have the option to go for the iPhone SE that launched in 2022, but what would you lose if you opted for that choice?

We are here to answer exactly that question, and as you probably already expect, there is a ton you would be giving up to go down from the expected $800 for the iPhone 16 to the $479 price tag for the 2022 iPhone SE (the 128GB model, because no one’s getting the 64GB).

iPhone 16 vs iPhone SE (2022) differences:

Table of Contents:

Design and Size

Exactly what you would expect
The iPhone SE from 2022 still looks like it belongs in a museum, and that will be especially true when you place it next to the iPhone 16. It is high time Apple updates the SE series to look closer to what you would expect from a modern mid-range phone, and to resemble the rest of the company’s handsets that have come out in the last few years.
Even though the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max are said to come with slightly altered dimensions, the regular iPhone 16 will be the same size as its predecessor. In other words, the iPhone 16 will be 147.6 x 71.6 x 7.8 mm (5.81 x 2.82 x 0.31 in), which is quite a bit larger than the 2022 iPhone SE‘s 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm (5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 in).
Materials-wise, Apple will probably stick to an aluminum frame with a glass back for the iPhone 16, which is, surprisingly, what the iPhone SE (2022) is also made out of. We say surprisingly, because the price difference between the two models is not small.

But there IS a difference when we compare the durability between the budget iPhone and the upcoming base flagship. For starters, the iPhone 16 will come with an IP68 rating, just like its predecessor, while the iPhone SE (2022) has a slightly less water-resistant IP67 rating. The more significant differentiating factor, however, is that SE does not come with Apple’s Ceramic Shield display technology, which is famous for its higher durability against cracks and especially against scratches.

Lastly, something that came with the 2023 iPhones is the USB-C port, which will also be present on the 2024 lineup. Being an older model, the iPhone SE from 2022 has the extremely outdated Lightning port instead.

As for the color options, you will most likely have a wider variety to choose from if you go for the iPhone 16, as rumor has it there will be five colors variants in total: black, green, pink, blue, and white. The iPhone SE (2022), on the other hand, only comes in Midnight, Starlight, and Red.

Display Differences

Needless to say, you will have a much larger and better-looking display if you opt for an iPhone 16 instead of the iPhone SE (2022). The SE is still rocking that bezelishious 4.7-inch screen with a massive chin and forehead at the bottom and top sides of the front panel. The display is not even full HD (1080P), let alone OLED.

In contrast, the  iPhone 16‘s display will probably be 6.1 inches with 1179 x 2556 pixels. Just like its predecessor, it will feature a contrasty OLED panel that got as bright as 1070 nits in our display tests vs the 670 nits of the SE from 2022.

Lastly, a big difference between these to iPhones will undoubtedly be the fact that the iPhone 16 is unlocked via FaceID, whereas the iPhone SE (2022) uses TouchID as a biometric to confirm your identity.

Performance and Software

SE is still not bad, just leagues behind

When it came out in 2022, the third generation of the iPhone SE was one of, if not THE most powerful phone in its class thanks to the A15 Bionic chipset. Well, some time has passed since then and even though it is still a capable piece of silicon,  the A18 Bionic that’s said to come with the iPhone 16 will be massively more capable in comparison.

One of the major differences between the A15 and the still-unannounced A18 besides the the power gap, is that the latter will have special hardware designed to carry out on-device AI tasks.

The iPhone 16 will also likely have double the RAM of the SE, rumored to come with 8GB this year because of the on-device AI features. Additionally, the SE has outdated connectivity hardware, with Bluetooth 5.0 vs 5.3 expected on the iPhone 16, which affects the use of wireless accessories such as headphones (weaker signal stability and lower transfer speeds.

Both phones should have the same minimum 6 years of software updates that we have come to expect from Apple, but given the iPhone 16 is a newer model, it will last you further down the line by about 2 years. 

Camera

It’s not even close
Apple really stepped up its game once it went from 12MP to a 24MP camera last year with the iPhone 15 series. The 2022 SE had one of the best cameras on a mid-range phone when it came out, but it simply cannot match what current iPhones are capable, let alone the upcoming iPhone 16.

There’s also the fact that the SE only has one 12MP camera at the back and a pretty bad and outdated 7MP front camera at the front. In comparison, the iPhone 16 will have a 48MP main and 12MP ultrawide cameras at the back and a 12MP selfie camera embedded in the display.

Let’s not also forget that, just like the iPhone 15, the iPhone 16 will probably take 24MP images with the main camera, which have a ton of more detail vs the 12MP ones coming from the iPhone SE (2022).

Battery Life and Charging

Larger body = more battery

It’s rather obvious that, given its larger battery, the iPhone 16 will fair much better as far as battery life goes compared to the SE. In this case, we are looking at a battery capacity difference of 3,561mAh vs 2,018mAh. Of course, the A15 Bionic inside the cheaper model is much less power hungry, and so is the lower resolution display, so we will have to wait and see how exactly they compare in our battery life tests.

But do you know what would not be funny at all? Well, maybe a little… If Apple decides to keep the same charging speeds for the iPhone 16 that we also saw with the iPhone 15. After all, the phone comes with a USB-C port that enables much faster charging compared to the Lightning port on the SE, which comes with the same 20W and 7.5W of wired and wireless charging as last year’s iPhone 15!

Specs Comparison

It is a night and day difference with the iPhone 16 vs iPhone SE (2022) spec sheets, reflecting everything we have mentioned above.

The only similarity between the two phones is that both max out at 20W of wired charging and 7.5W of wireless charging. That is unless Apple finally decides to upgrade that aspect of its base flagship in 2024 to speeds that can utilize the USB-C port it comes with.

Summary

So, it is no secret that these are two drastically different phones, but we are using the stark differences to highlight that it is high time Apple updates its more affordable SE series too. This might end up happening come September, when the iPhone 16 is announced, but it is unlikely given that the 2022 iPhone SE launched in March, which we already passed.

Fingers crossed that we see a nice surprise in the form of a new iPhone SE at some point later this year, but if that does not happen, then the iPhone 16 will undoubtedly be the better bang for your buck.


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