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iPhones Compared: iPhone 12 or the iPhone SE?

We answer the age-old question.

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Apple is known for its massive range and regular updates. For those who aren’t in the market for the latest iPhone 13 range, is it better to step a generation and opt for one of the iPhone 12s, or look to their brand-new entry-level iPhone SE? Let’s take a look.

iPhone Types

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Before we head too in-depth, it’s important to remember that there’s a lot to the iPhone range. Here’s a brief rundown:

  • The Mini: Designed as the base model of the recent iPhone ranges, it’s the smallest and lightest of their phones
  • The iPhone: The classic iPhone will typically offer the same hardware and features as the mini, but on a larger device with a better battery
  • The Pro: The iPhone Pro range is designed as the upgrade to the standard iPhone, offering a premium build and, typically, a better camera set
  • The Pro Max: iPhone’s Pro Max range builds on the idea of a premium iPhone, adding a larger screen and better battery to the mix.

How Does the iPhone 12 and iPhone SE (2022) Differ from the iPhone 13?

Of course, for true Apple fans, there’s never a better choice than the latest in the market. However, it can be a pricey upgrade, and if you’re more indifferent to the ‘brand pull’ and FOMO inspired by Apple’s regular upgrades, you’re not losing out on too much stepping back a generation.

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The iPhone 12 mini runs slightly older hardware than the iPhone 13, of course, and it did lack some of their newer camera features. However, it still offered a selection of colors if style matters to you, the same dust/water resistance, and a dual camera with an OLED display. The larger entrants in the range build from this base.

The brand-new iPhone SE is a reinvention of 2020’s iPhone SE, which was tied to the launch of the iPhone 8. It lacks a lot in the display compared to the latest-gen iPhone 13s, but uses the same core hardware and 5G capabilities. It has only a single, rear-facing camera.

The iPhone 12 generation vs the iPhone SE (2022)

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So how does the newer entry-level smartphone stack up against the last generation but one from Apple’s iconic phone range?

The iPhone 12 Mini

Available in blue, green, white, black, and red, the iPhone 12 mini was one of the smallest iPhones available, smaller even than the iPhone SE (2022), but still had a larger display than the entry-level phone. As with the entire iPhone 12 range, it uses Apple’s FaceID and is shipped with an aluminium casing with a squarer look than preceding iPhone generations, and a ceramic ‘shield’ front for added durability.

Dual rear cameras, with Night Mode, finally available on the front camera and improved for the back, offers a solid camera experience, but it lacks next to the triple camera on most of the newer iPhone 13 range. It ran the A14 chip, as did all iPhone 12s, used HDR on an OLED display, haptic touch, and true tone.

Onboard storage was the typical 128GB, 256GB, or 500GB, battery life was pegged at about 15 hours, and the display was 5.4”, the same as the current generation.

iPhone 12 and upward

Most of these features rolled into the rest of the iPhone 12 generation. They upgraded to a 6.1” display, again the same as the iPhone 13s. The Colour, build, and camera remained the same as the iPhone 12 mini on the larger iPhone. Storage came in 64Gm, 128GB, and 256GB formats, with the Pro range adding 512GB. The standard iPhone 12 has an updated flat-edge iPhone design.

The Pro range brought some camera improvements, although not to the extent of the iPhone 13 generation, swapped to gorilla Glass and Steel construction, and added some more subtle colour choices to the mix. The iPhone 12 Pro Max expanded to a 6.7” screen.

The iPhone SE (2022)

Despite being a comparable size to the iPhone 12 mini, the screen is only 4.7”. It keeps hepatic touch and true tone, but there is only a single rear camera. It’s available only in black, white, and red, but keeps the same battery life and storage size as the iPhone 12 mini. Despite added IP67 protection, it has the look of the iPhone 8, so it’s a bit dated.

There’s Touch ID, but no Face ID, and it uses a 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the updated 19:9 launched from Gen 11. On the plus side, it uses the 13th Gen A15 Bionic chip, making it more powerful despite the older looks. And it’s 5G capable. For a single camera, there are some new bells and whistles, but selfie-lovers will be disappointed.

The Verdict

The iPhone SE suffers in looks and screen size next to the iPhone Gen 12 but runs updated software that will appeal to those looking for a budget entry into the iPhone family that will handle calls and browsing like a pro.

If you’re more invested in social media and selfies or would prefer a larger screen size or battery, then the iPhone gen 12 will definitely be a better investment.

Both lack in the camera compared to the latest 13 Gen, and the iPhone 12 runs older chipsets and hardware, but they remain very comparable and competitive if you’re not ready to invest in the latest iPhone. If you’d rather bite the bullet, and go for their newest line, remember that you can always earn yourself a little extra cash to use for your new purchase with a trade-in on older technology. While Apple still offers a trade-in program at some iPhone stores, you can also look to independent electronic recyclers like Gizmogo to see if they’ll offer a better deal. Whatever you choose, have fun with your new gadget!

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