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iPhone SE 3 (2022): official release date, pricing and more

Apple iPhone SE 2022
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple unveiled the new iPhone SE (2022) at the company's 'Peek Performance' showcase on Tuesday, 8th March. As expected, Apple's entry-level iPhone boasts 5G, a durable design and the same A15 Bionic chipset as the flagship iPhone 13. Here's the official lowdown on the new iPhone SE 3...

Rumours of a third-generation iPhone SE began circulating shortly after Apple revealed the second generation model, way back in 2020. Two years later and the company has finally revealed its newest – and cheapest – phone. Reliable Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo leaked most of the spec in advance of the event, but there was no sign of the rumoured SE 3 'Plus'. 

In the market for budget iPhone? The iPhone SE (2022) could be just the ticket...

iPhone SE 3 (2022) release date

(Image credit: Apple)

As predicted by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and others, the iPhone SE 3 was announced at at Apple's virtual showcase –  dubbed 'Peek Performance' – on Tuesday 8th March. 

Pre-orders are due to start on at 1pm GMT / 8am ET / 5am PT  / 11pm AEDT on Friday 11th March. Availability begins on Friday 18th March.

The new iPhone SE (2022) arrived along with a new iPad Air. Like the new budget iPhone, the tablet boasts A15 Bionic chip and optional 5G (cellular models). Peek Performance also threw up Studio Display, Apple's long-awaited 5K monitor with Dolby Atmos. 

The current iPhone SE (2020) model was launched on 15th April 2020, so the refresh comes almost 24 months later. Cue the first rumours that Apple will launch the iPhone SE 4 in 2024...

iPhone SE 3 (2022) price

Prices for the iPhone SE (2022) start at $429 / £419 / AU$719 for the 64GB version. 

The 128GB costs £469 / $479 / AU$799, while the 256GB model will set you back £559 / $579 / AU$969.

For reference, the current model – the iPhone SE (2020) – starts at £419 / $399 / AU$749. 

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman urged Apple to sell the iPhone SE (2022) for $199 in parts of the world where iPhones remain unaffordable. Sadly his plea appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

After a cheap iPhone on the double? We've listed today's best iPhone SE (2020) prices below...

iPhone SE 3 (2022) design and display

Apple iPhone SE 2022

(Image credit: Apple )

The design of the new iPhone SE 3 (2022) resembles the iPhone 8, with curved edges and a chunky bezel that frames the 4.7-inch HD Retina LCD display. Apparently Apple's deal to buy OLED panels from Samsung Display was canned due to high costs.

To make the new SE more durable than its predecessor, Apple has added a Ceramic Shield coating to the glass on both the front and back of the device. Ceramic Shield is the same stuff you'll find on the iPhone 13, and is said to provide better drop and scratch resistance. 

Talking of toughness, the new iPhone SE is rated IP67 to protect against spills and dust.

Most rumours proved accurate but there was one thing the leakers couldn't agree on: would the iPhone SE (2022) feature a Touch ID 'Home' button or Face ID? Well, as we suspected, Apple has gone with a Home button. The company says it provides a "familiar" way to log into apps, authorize App Store purchases and make Apple Pay transactions. 

There was a lot of talk about a possible iPhone SE 'Plus' model breaking cover at the March event. Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Cupertino is working on a 5.5-inch iPhone SE 'Plus' but if that's the case, Apple is keeping that device for a another time.

The new iPhone SE (2022) will be available in two colours: Midnight black and Starlight White. Apple is also releasing a (Product) Red variant. 

iPhone SE 3 (2022) specs and features

Apple iPhone SE 2022

(Image credit: Apple)

Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, often one of the most accurate sources for Apple rumours, tipped the new iPhone SE for "5G network capabilities, an improved camera and a faster processor". 

He was right on all counts. The big news is that the new iPhone SE gets same A15 Bionic chip as the iPhone 13. Apple says it's "faster than all the competition, at any price", and that its 16-core Neural Engine is 26x faster than the iPhone 8. The SE also gets a 4-core graphics processor that's 2.2x faster than the iPhone 8.

All that extra power should pay off when streaming, downloading or gaming via a 5G connection. Apple also points out that 5G will make for higher-quality HD FaceTime calls, as well as unlocking "shared experiences" such as watching HDR movies and TV shows in sync with friends whilst online together.

It shouldn't decimate the battery, either. The A15 Bionic is said to work with the company's "latest-generation battery chemistry" to deliver "longer battery life than the previous-generation and older 4.7-inch iPhone models". In practice, that means you can expect 15 hours video playback versus 13 hours from the 2020 SE. 

We managed to get a day's use out of the previous model's battery, but noted in our review that "the iPhone SE (2020) will definitely need topping up daily, especially if you’re watching content with the brightness cranked up". 

There was some last-minute talk of the iPhone SE getting MagSafe, which allows users to charge the device or snap on different accessories. This proved to be inaccurate, although the new SE is compatible with Qi-certified chargers for wireless charging, and supports fast charging.

When it comes to cameras, the iPhone SE 3 sports a new 12MP wide-angle snapper. The speedy A15 Bionic chip enables a host of new features including Smart HDR 4, which claims to improve the colour, contrast and lighting for each subject in a group photo. 

The device also benefits from Apple's rather ominous sounding "Deep Fusion" technology, which uses machine learning to perform "pixel-by-pixel processing", reducing unwanted noise and ensuring "truer skin tones". 

iPhone SE 3 (2022) early thoughts

Apple iPhone SE (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

Want a small, affordable iPhone with 5G? The pocket-friendly iPhone SE 3 could be just the job. The current version is a What Hi-Fi? Award-winner, so the addition of 5G and the fastest chip in any iPhone sounds promising. 

It's a shame that Apple hasn't dragged the design into 2022 but then, the SE is the company's entry-level handset, and cut products tend to come with compromises here and there. 

How will the iPhone SE (2022) compare to other low-cost smartphones such as the Google Pixel 5a? We'll have to wait and see. But if the rumoured iPhone 14 Mini is dead and buried, the iPhone SE 3 could become the compact iPhone of choice for Apple fans.

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Tom is a journalist, copywriter and content designer based in the UK. He has written articles for T3, ShortList, The Sun, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph, Elle Deco, The Sunday Times, Men's Health, Mr Porter, Oracle and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include mobile technology, electric vehicles and video streaming.