Apple announces all-new ‘cheap’ iPhone SE (with 5G!)

Those finding last year’s iPhone 13 range just a little too high-priced now have a cheaper alternative, with Apple confirming a new, 2022 iPhone SE is on the way.

The Cupertino company unveiled the newest edition of the SE overnight, announcing pre-orders will begin at 12.00am AEDT on Saturday, March 12. This year’s iPhone SE finally includes 5G connectivity, plus a longer battery life, an updated camera system, and Apple’s latest A15 Bionic chipset.

iPhone SE: Design and specs

The iPhone SE features a compact 4.7-inch Retina HD display, and retains the iconic bottom-centre Home button with Touch ID fingerprint unlocking. The device is built with aluminium and glass front and back, and Apple is touting the increased durability of this year’s SE when compared to previous releases. As with the 2020 iPhone SE, the 2022 edition is IP67 water and dust resistant, so can be submerged under up to one metre of water for as long as 30 minutes.

Despite the device’s small size and old-school design, the SE offers cutting-edge performance, and is the first in the affordable SE line-up to offer 5G capability. Apple has included its new A15 Bionic chip in the SE, which features a six-core CPU, a 4-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine for lightning-fast machine learning. It’s the same chip included in the Apple 13 series, meaning you’ll get a similarly powerful performance for a considerably lower price.

iPhone SE in black, white, red
Apple is also promising longer battery life from the SE, with up to 15 hours of video playback and up to 10 hours of continuous streaming from a single charge. The iPhone SE is fast-charge-capable, and can recharge by up to 50% in just 30 minutes when paired with a 20-watt adaptor. You’ll also be able to use your device with any Qi wireless charger.

The iPhone SE runs Apple’s iOS 15 operating system, including a wealth of new and updated features such as Focus to reduce distraction, Live Text for recognising text in photos, and redesigned Weather and Maps apps. FaceTime has also received an overhaul, with the new SharePlay feature allowing users to bring movies, TV, music and screen sharing into video calls with one or multiple people.

Other key features include Siri voice assistance, Apple Pay, dual SIM (including nanoSIM and eSIM compatibility), and a brand-new camera system that works with the A15 Bionic Chip to deliver better, clearer shots and intelligent photo processing.

iPhone SE: Cameras

iPhone SE camera app
Apple’s renowned for its in-phone camera systems, and the SE offers plenty of features and improvements even at a lower price point. In the rear you’ll find a 12-megapixel Wide camera with up to 5X digital zoom, Optical Image Stabilisation and 4K video recording.

The SE’s Smart HDR 4 refines colour, contrast and noise to ensure all skin tones are properly exposed, and offers adjustments for every subject in your snap, thanks to the intelligent segmentation provided by the A15 chip. The device’s Deep Fusion feature enhances mid to low-light photos by processing images pixel-by-pixel, capturing subtle details for a clearer and more accurate result.

Users can set preferences via Apple’s Photographic Styles mode, which automatically applies adjustments to your shot instead of merely slapping on a filter to achieve the desired effect. Video recording is also improved thanks to the upgraded processor, meaning low-light videos are less noisy and include a better white balance.

In front, the iPhone SE includes a 7-megapixel camera with a Retina Flash and selfie-ready features, such as Portrait Mode with advanced Bokeh for perfect background blur, Portrait Lightning for extra effects, and Photographic Styles. The front camera also includes Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4 for photos, and Night Mode and Time Lapse options, as well as 1080p HD video recording.

iPhone SE: quick specs

  • 4.7-inch Retina HD display
  • 7MP front camera
  • 12MP rear wide camera
  • A15 Bionic chip
  • iOS 15 operating system
  • Qi wireless charging, up to 15 hours video playback
  • IP67 water and dust resistance
  • 5G connectivity

iPhone SE: Price and availability

Apple is offering this year’s iPhone SE in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage sizes, and in three colours: Midnight, Starlight, and PRODUCT (RED). Customers can order any size or colour from 12am AEDT on Saturday, March 12, 2022, with devices shipping and hitting stores from Friday, March 18.

Apple has confirmed the following iPhone SE prices:

  • 64GB: $719
  • 128GB: $799
  • 256GB: $969

If you’re planning to buy on a telco plan, we’ve compiled 24-month options from Telstra, Vodafone and Optus below.

24-month Telstra iPhone SE plans

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Telstra plans for the 64GB iPhone SE on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

24-month Vodafone iPhone SE plans

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Vodafone plans for the 64GB iPhone SE on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

24-month Optus iPhone SE plans

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Optus plans for the 64GB iPhone SE on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Compared to the 2020’s iPhone SE range, Apple has actually lowered the recommended retail price across all storage sizes. The 2020 SE began at $749 for 64GB, $829 for 128GB, and $999 for 256GB, so this year’s release is actually $30 cheaper across the board.

The series is also substantially more affordable than the iPhone 13 series, albeit with less premium features. The lower-priced iPhone 13 Mini begins at $1,199 for 128GB, with the 256GB model available for $1,369 and the 512GB size for $1,719. So overall, you’re looking at a phone that’s up to $480 cheaper than the next-lowest-priced iPhone released in the last 12 months.

While the iPhone SE is certainly ‘cheap’ for an Apple device, there are plenty of more affordable mid-to-high-range devices on the market from brands such as Samsung and OPPO. If you’re willing to spend more and are looking at the $900-$1000 mark, you may also want to consider the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G – another ‘low-priced’ alterative to a flagship smartphone – or even the Google Pixel 6, both of which retail for $999.

If you prefer not to drop too much coin at once, you’ll be able to pick up the iPhone SE on a telco plan from Telstra, Optus or Vodafone, and spread your device payments out over 12, 24, or 36 months; you can find a selection of 24-month plans in the above table.

Compare iPhone 13 plans

The following table shows a range of 24-month plans for the 128GB iPhone 13 as published on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our phone plan comparison tool to compare plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following table shows a range of 24-month plans for the 128GB iPhone 13 Mini as published on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our phone plan comparison tool to compare plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following table shows a range of 24-month plans for the 128GB iPhone 13 Pro as published on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our phone plan comparison tool to compare plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following table shows a range of 24-month plans for the 128GB iPhone 13 Pro Max as published on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our phone plan comparison tool to compare plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.


All images: Apple

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