Apple iPhone SE (2022) Review: Annoyingly Great
Apple’s third-generation iPhone SE (released in March 2022) stands out from the company’s family of smartphones, not only because of its budget-friendly price, but also its outdated design. Although it’s hard to recommend a phone that’s lacking so much, it’s perfect for a very select audience.
The iPhone SE is a mesh of both current and past iPhones. Basically, you get the form factor (which includes a Touch ID fingerprint sensor) of the iPhone SE (2020) and the brains and processing power of the top-of-the-line iPhone 13. It’s the best of both worlds if you’re not looking for the cutting edge.
Unfortunately, Apple had to cut corners to keep the phone’s price below 500. This means you’ll miss out on camera performance, a high-definition display, and other features found on other mid-tier and budget smartphones.
Here’s everything you need to know about the iPhone SE (2022) before buying one for yourself or a loved one.
Note: I have spent the last seven days using the iPhone SE (2022) as my daily driver for this review. The handset was running iOS 15.4, included 128GB of storage, and was purchased by How-To Geek’s parent company, LifeSavvy Media.
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Hardware and Design: Premium but Aging
The iPhone SE (2022) is instantly recognizable if you’ve ever used an iPhone 8, second-gen iPhone SE, or any 2017-era Apple smartphone. It has a solid, thin, and rounded frame design that feels premium in hand, even though it seems like a device of the past.
This metal-framed phone is sandwiched between two pieces of glass, providing the look and feel that we’ve all become familiar with. The large bezels, forehead, and chin surrounding the display are what ages the iPhone. No matter the price point, most devices have pushed the screen closer to the edges of the phone and minimized the black bezels.
Of course, Apple couldn’t change much regarding the screen-to-bezel ratio because the iPhone SE retains the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. The physical sensor that sits on the phone’s surface, which also acts as a Home button, takes up a ton of real estate. Until Apple adopts under-display fingerprint sensors, there’s not much that the company can do to modernize the look of this budget handset.
There are two other features found in a growing number of phones missing from the iPhone SE (2022): mmWave 5G and Ultra Wideband support. The first is something you will most likely never miss as, at the time of writing, you can only enjoy mmWave while standing within eyeshot of a 5G tower that offers the frequency. These can be found mostly in large cities and some sports stadiums.
The second means you won’t be able to locate devices such as AirTags in a given space. Ultra Wideband, which uses Apple’s U1 chip, allows you to use radio waves to pinpoint the exact location of supported objects. Of course, you can still use your iPhone to activate an AirTag’s speaker to help you find it.
Lastly, the iPhone SE is missing the Ceramic Shield display found on modern iPhones. This exclusion isn’t the end of the world (and most won’t notice a difference), but if dropped, there’s a higher chance that the iPhone SE’s screen might crack. It’s probably best that you grab a case if you’re worried about any damage that might come
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Display: The Weakest Link
There’s no getting around this: the screen is the worst part of the iPhone SE. It’s a cramped 4.7-inch LCD that barely offers better than 720p resolution. This combination leads to smaller on-screen text and buttons with tiny touch targets.
If you’re coming from the second-gen iPhone SE from 2020, you’ll find that nothing has changed. It’s the same 16:9 display with the exact resolution. Anyone coming from a flagship iPhone will instantly notice a downgrade in color accuracy and sharpness.
Additionally, open some of your favorite apps, whether those are social media apps such as or or a game like Call of Duty, and you’ll find that the companies have started designing interfaces for larger screens with more pixels. Text is cramped, harder to read, and it makes for a less than pleasing viewing experience.
In all, the screen isn’t horrible to use, but the display might be a dealbreaker if you plan on using this phone for the next three to four years. It’s already outdated at launch, and it’ll only look worse compared to other devices in the years to come.
Performance and Software: Flagship-Level
iOS, the operating system found on all iPhones, is nearly identical in appearance and performance on any modern Apple smartphone. You won’t find any surprises here unless you’ve never used an iPhone or iPod Touch.
The interface is still centered around home pages with app shortcuts and widgets, with additional widgets to the left and the App Library to the right. It’s a simplistic setup that doesn’t offer too much customization but is easy enough for anyone to understand and use.
If you’re coming from an iPhone that includes Face ID (iPhone X or newer), you’ll have to reacquaint yourself with some aspects of iOS. Some features, like Control Center, are found in different places.
For example, on newer iPhones, you can find the quick settings panel by swiping down from the right side of the front-facing camera notch. But on the iPhone SE, just like with older Touch ID phones, you open the panel by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
As far as performance is concerned, the iPhone SE (2022) handled everything I threw at it without issue. Want to play a game from the App Store? You can expect smooth playback, zero dropped frames, and an enjoyable experience. Need to edit a document or want to surf the internet? The iPhone can do that in its sleep.
We ran Geekbench 5 on the iPhone SE and compared it to the iPhone 13 Pro if you’re looking for benchmark scores. As you might expect, since the A15 Bionic CPU powers both handsets, the scores were nearly identical. The iPhone SE (2022) had 1734 single-core and 4549 multi-core scores. The iPhone 13 Pro received a 1723 single-core score and a 4650 multi-core score.
The inclusion of Apple’s top-of-the-line CPU is the iPhone SE’s saving grace. Most 500 budget smartphones run slower and/or older processors that age faster, resulting in you needing to upgrade sooner. Having the A15 Bionic means the iPhone SE is comparable to flagship smartphones in performance and longevity.
Cameras: Gets the Job Done
I can sum up the iPhone SE (2022)’s cameras in one statement: you get what you paid for. Under perfect conditions, the phone can take stunning pictures and record videos that look better than that from most Android devices. But push the handset a little, and quality starts to degrade.
The single 12MP rear camera is the same sensor as that found on the iPhone SE (2020). There is no secondary lens for taking telephoto or ultra-wide photos. Instead, you’ll have to rely on optical zoom (up to 5x) if you want a different perspective.
Looking through the photo samples below, you’ll find that good light conditions lead to solid images. The shots of the sign and flowers were all taken on my porch, where the sun wasn’t beating down on the scene. Here, the iPhone SE (2022) captured the color of each subject accurately.
Move out to where the sun played a more significant influence, and you start to see some decline in quality. For example, the “Smart HDR” feature is pushed to its limits when trying to take a photo of an over or under-exposed scene (such as the neighborhood and shrub images).
The most disappointing photos are those taken at night. Apple, for some reason, did not include a Night mode, resulting in grainy and murky-looking images. Well-lit areas retain a decent amount of detail, but anything in the shadows will resemble a watercolor painting.
The front-facing camera on the iPhone SE (2022) is also excellent in most lighting conditions. The 7MP sensor does a good job capturing details of both the subject and the background. Color accuracy can sometimes be a problem with selfie cameras on other phones, but I didn’t experience those issues with the iPhone SE.
The iPhone SE also retains Apple’s ability to take some of the best Portrait mode photos. Unlike many of its competitors, the fake bokeh (blurred background) effect doesn’t include an overly noticeable halo around my head. It’s not perfect, though, as you can see by how the phone melted some of my wind-blown hair into the background.
Battery Life: It’ll Get You Through the Day
Small phones mean small batteries. Fortunately, Apple is great at battery management, so you don’t have to sacrifice all-day usage just because you chose the company’s smallest smartphone.
During my testing, I saw an average of seven to eight hours of battery life while on Wi-Fi and five to six hours while on cellular. Turning off 5G would likely get you more juice while on the go.
Of course, all of this was with moderate use, such as scrolling through. browsing the web, and checking my email. Playing resource-heavy games and watching videos on TikTok and YouTube for extended periods caused my battery percentage to drop dramatically. I recommend buying a charger to top back up, especially since one no longer comes in the box.
Unfortunately, you won’t find fast charging in the iPhone SE like you would on similar-priced Android handsets. The good news is that since the device has a physically smaller battery, it doesn’t take too long to charge fully. Using a 20W or faster brick, you can expect to go from 0 to 50% charge in about half an hour while plugged in. Since Apple didn’t bring MagSafe or its 15W wireless charging to the iPhone SE, you’ll be stuck with 7.5W Qi charging.
Review: Anker PowerCore Lite 20,000mAh Portable Charger
Anker provides some of the best quality power banks and other charging electronics products on the market, and you likely know that by reading our reviews, or from actually using one of their products. Their power banks feature many different of power capacities, and the best thing about them is that they’re always powerful, with their power capacity or the charging speed that comes from the ports. Recently, Anker has been releasing their new PowerCore Lite portable chargers, and with one that we’ve reviewed already called the “PowerCore Lite 10000”. It was a slim power bank that was quite powerful and easy to take anywhere that you wanted.
In this review, we’re taking a look at this PowerCore Lite 20,000mAh portable charger. This charger seems to be quite similar to their PowerCore 20100 model, and this is their way of creating new power banks with a new type of look, but it does have differences, so let’s take a closer look.
The power capacity of this power bank starts at 20,000mAh, but just like any portable charger on the market that’s not really what you’re able to use. So we’re going to get the average conversion and figure out how much you’re really able to use.
3.7 x 20,000 = 74,000 / 5 = 14,800
The average amount of output capacity that you’re actually able to use with this charger is going to be 15,000mAh. It’s still a high power capacity and this much power can be highly useful for charging smartphones such as a Galaxy S9 with its 3,000mAh battery or a Note 9 with its 4,000mAh battery to their full power about three times. Well, the S9 would be able to charge to its full power about four times because of its lower battery capacity.
To put it basically, you’re able to charge most smartphones on the market to full power multiple times.
The same can also be said about tablets, but not all of them. If your tablet has a 5,000mAh battery, then you can fair about 2.5 full charges. That said, if you want to have the ability to charge a device to full power multiple times over, then you’re likely going to have to charge a single device at a time, as charging two devices with this power bank at the same time basically splits the power capacity.
Of course, charging two devices at once is what this power bank is made to do and it can still provide a full charge that way, too.
There are two ports on this power bank, and each of the ports is slightly more powerful than regular USB-A ports on other Anker power banks, as each of the ports is able to output a 5V/3.0A charging speed. Whereas most standard ports have a 5V/2.4A charging speed. The max output of the charger is 4.8A and that’s really the only downside with its charging as you won’t be able to use both of the ports at their max power at the same time.
The recharging for this power bank is quite different than what other Anker power banks feature and it seems like it’s something that Anker’s PowerCore Lite portable charger is going to be featuring. As this power bank makes use of two input ports, with one input being a Micro-USB and the other one is a USB-C input port. The USB-C port can only be used as an input
The two input ports can only be used once at a time, as using them both at the same time will not result in a faster recharge rate and they each have the same recharging speed of 5V/2.0A. So you should use a 2 amp wall charger or higher to recharge the power bank. With that said, we think that making either of the input ports Quick Charge compatible would have made more sense for a high capacity power bank as it would have resulted in a faster recharge rate.
Size and Weight:
At this point, high capacity power banks aren’t exactly large anymore and that’s not to say that they’re as easy to carry around as a mini 3,000mAh power bank. Instead, it’s a lot more manageable to take these power banks wherever you’d like.
As this charger has a length of 6.8 inches, a width of 2.8 inches and a thickness of 0.9 inches. So the charger is basically the same size as most smartphones out there, such as the Note 9, except for its thickness. The PowerCore Lite 20000 has a 13.1 Ounces weight.
So what makes it feel quite large is mostly its weight, and even then you can just place it into a and bring it with you everywhere. Placing it into a back is what we found to work best.
The charger is easy to use, with the two USB-A output ports and the power button being on one side, and the Micro-USB and USB-C input are together on another side. Also off to one of the sides is where there are four Blue power capacity indicators that show how much power is left.
Just like with most Anker power banks, you don’t have to press the power button to begin charging, as charging automatically starts when you place a device into the ports. If you want to turn on the power indicators to see how much power is left, then the power button can come to use.
Structure and Material:
The power bank has a great build and this is basically what you can expect from most Anker products. The charger is made of plastic, but it’s put together very well and the ports on Anker products are some of the best we’ve used as they hold on real tight to the charging cable that you place into them.
There’s etched design of lines that makes it easy to hold the power bank in your hands.
The charger does not get warm at all, and it’s something that Anker does very well at. Overall, though you can’t really expect it to overheat when there are only 4.8 Amps being released.
Despite its awesome presentation, this Anker PowerCore Lite 20000 charger is a high standard type of power bank. The USB-A ports are slightly more powerful at 3 Amps, and the recharging is more accessible as it makes use of a USB-C and a Micro-USB input. So it can be useful for someone that’s not concerned about making use of fast charging tech such as Quick Charge or Power Delivery, as this power bank does not make use of those fast charging technologies.
That said, if you do have a Quick Charge compatible smartphone, then it’s best to go for Anker PoewrCore II 20000 portable charger that has the same power capacity, but features Quick Charge.
The power capacity is enough to change provide full multiple charges for most smartphones, the two standard USB-A ports are quite powerful and the two input ports makes recharging easier, in case you don’t have one cable but do have the other.
The charger has a small form factor even though it is a high capacity power bank, and you’re actually able to fit this charger into your
The build is great and it feels premium to use every time you use it.
Since this power bank does not feature Quick Charge, and if you own a Quick Charge compatible smartphone, then it’s best to go for a Quick Charge power bank, as this PowerCore Lite is an optimal standard power bank, not a fast charging one.
Specs of the Anker PowerCore Lite 20,000mAh Portable Charger:
Max Output: 4.8A
Micro-USB Input: 5V/2.0A
USB-C Input: 5V/2.0A
- LED Power Indicator: Four Blue Power Indicators
- Size: 6.8 x 2.8 x 0.9 inches
- Weight: 13.1 Ounces
Even though this Anker PowerCore Lite 20,000mAh power bank is standard across the board, it doesn’t disappoint with its charging power or its build quality.
Reviewing Anker’s Astro E1 and PowerCore 10000 Portable Batteries
It’s hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re making a similar product to hundreds of other companies, yet Anker has managed to do it with portable batteries. While it also sells cables, chargers, speakers, and other accessories, the company has built its reputation on the strength of its power banks.
There’s a good reason for that. From pint-sized versions to beefy models that can power a laptop, Anker’s power banks are well-priced, solid, and reliable, backed by strong support and an 18-month warranty.
We’ve long recommended various Anker batteries for travelers, so when I was looking to buy a replacement for myself recently, the company’s range was the obvious place to start.
Apparently it was the obvious place to finish as well, since I ended up buying two different models: the smaller Astro E1, and the larger PowerCore 10000 with roughly double the capacity.
I’ve been using them for several weeks now, on excursions across the city and across the continent. Here’s how they’ve fared.
Anker Astro E1
The Anker Astro E1 is part of the company’s “ Size” range, a sleek, glossy slab of plastic about the same size as a small candy bar. That category description is accurate: it fits easily in the of any item of clothing I own.
importantly, with a tiny charging cable like this, I can fit both my phone and the battery in the front of my jeans and charge as I walk around.
It’s a simple, straightforward device with a single button on the side for checking charge levels, and a pair of sockets on one end: a USB-A port for charging your devices and a micro-USB port for charging the battery itself.
A drawstring travel bag was included in the box, along with a micro-USB cable. If your device also uses that cable type you’re good to go, otherwise you’ll need to provide your own Lightning, USB C, or whatever variant you need.
Four small lights on the top give a rough estimate of how much capacity is left, lighting up when you press the side button or there’s power coming in or going out of the battery. The maximum output of the USB-A port is 10W, which is enough to charge most devices at a reasonable speed, but there’s no support for fast-charging standards like QC 3.0.
My plan was for the E1 to live in my daypack most of the time, going anywhere from the gym to the coffee shop with me during daily life and coming along on weekend trips and short flights. Basically, anywhere I knew I wouldn’t be away from a power socket for more than a day or so.
Anker suggests you’ll get two charges of most phones with this battery, but I figured I’d be happy if I got at least one. Even on the busiest travel day, my Pixel 2 will last at least twelve hours, so if the Astro E1 could double that, it’d be fine for how I planned to use it.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, I got significantly more. After using my phone for maps, camera, and streaming podcasts over Bluetooth for several hours during a cross-country bus ride in Greece, it was down to a 50% charge.
Plugging in the Astro E1 as I sipped eye-wateringly strong coffee afterward, it took the phone back to 70% by the time I drained the cup, and finished the job as it sat in my while I wandered around town afterward.
The charge indicators on the power bank hadn’t budged, and even with another couple of half-charges over the next few days, still showed two lights.
Anker quotes a complete charge of the Astro E1 in five hours from any decent wall charger, and that was in line with my testing. Plugging the battery into the 12W socket of my usual USB travel adapter, the battery went from around half charge to full capacity in under three hours.
Those charging times are fine, both of the battery pack and the devices it’s connected to, because it’s so small. I don’t mind keeping it in my while it does its thing, and despite Anker’s warnings about not using the battery in a confined space like this, I didn’t notice it getting any warmer after an hour.
That’s an observation, not a guarantee. Don’t set fire to yourself.
Overall, I’ve been impressed with Astro E1. It’s inexpensive, does exactly what the marketing material says it will, and looks better than most of the competition. I’m not particularly bothered by how stylish my battery pack looks when I’m traveling (or any other time, really), but hey, when it does everything else right, it’s a nice bonus.
Anker PowerCore 10000
Around the size of a deck of cards, the PowerCore 10000 is one of half a dozen Anker batteries with similar capacities.
There’s a Slim version that’s longer and thinner, versions with USB C Power Delivery for fast-charging a wider range of devices, and more. I didn’t need any of the extras, though, and since the original model was the cheapest on the day, that’s what I went with.
There’s little to physically distinguish it from many other portable batteries — the matte-black, rectangular design is entirely nondescript. It functions in exactly the same way as the Astro E1, with the same buttons, lights, and port selection, and also ships with a micro-USB cable and travel pouch.
The extra capacity, however, gives more flexibility. You can fully charge most tablets from it, or smartphones at least three times. The 2.4amp output charges most phones fairly quickly, but it’ll take a few hours to juice up an empty iPad.
The PowerCore 10000 has a slightly higher maximum output than the Astro E1, and charged my phone slightly faster as a result. It’s not a huge difference, but let’s face it, any extra speed is always welcome.
The battery itself can take advantage of anything up to a two-amp wall charger, but since it’s double the capacity, it still took roughly the same amount of time as the E1 to fully charge.
The size and 180g/6.4oz weight means that although it’s technically “able,” at least in larger s, I tend to keep it in a backpack instead and use it differently to the Astro E1.
It’s ideal for taking on weekend camping trips or long-haul flights, or sharing with a travel companion to keep both of your phones going all day. If I traveled with an iPad or other tablet, it’d be perfect for that as well.
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I’ve always found Anker batteries to be reliable, useful travel accessories, and these two have been no exception. Given the competitive pricing and different ways I use them, it was worth buying both.
Being able to keep the smaller Astro E1 in my and top-up my phone while walking around is very useful, and it holds enough charge to eliminate “battery anxiety” throughout a weekend trip.
Given its size and capacity, it’s likely the power bank I’ll use most often, whether I’m on the road at the time or not. When traveling long-haul or with someone else, or if I’m carrying more tech gear than usual, however, it’ll be the PowerCore 10000 that gets dropped in my bag instead.
In those cases, the extra capacity more than makes up for not really being able to keep it in my. and the faster charging is always welcome.
Either way, it looks like there’ll be an Anker battery in my carry-on for the foreseeable future!
About the Author
Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a traveler for 25 years, and a geek for even longer. When he’s not playing with the latest tech toy or working out how to keep his phone charged for just a few more minutes, he can probably be found sitting in a broken-down bus in some obscure corner of the planet.