iPhone SE 3 vs iPhone Mini, Which One to Buy?

The presentation of the iPhone SE 3, which Apple presented during the event on 8 March 2022, was no surprise. A new iPhone in the catalog, which could confuse the ideas of some buyers. That’s why we decided to compare it with the iPhone mini, referring to both the 13 and the 12 models. Here are the differences and which one we recommend you buy.

Design

When you think that the iPhone 12 mini and 13 mini share much of the aesthetic, with the exception of the shorter front notch on the latest smartphone, the iPhone SE 3 is completely different. Its design refers to the iPhone 8, a model that Apple marketed for the first time in the now distant 2017. The Form Factor of the new SE is, in fact, identical to that of the two predecessors, with very pronounced frames, especially the sides, and the central button on the bottom, below which there is the Touch ID.

It is true that tastes are personal, but on an aesthetic level, iPhone SE 3 is really a phone from several generations ago. Not that it disfigures, attention, but certainly it is now far from the idea of ​​a modern smartphone that the market offers. Not even the size and weight help in choices, because the iPhone 13 and 12 mini models weigh less, and have smaller dimensions, with a much larger screen. The only thing it wins is the thickness of 7.3mm, but that’s really too marginal when you consider that the 13 mini is 7.64mm thick, while the 12 is just 7.4mm.

While it is true that SE shares aerospace aluminum for its construction with the mini models, it is important to note the absence of the Ceramic Shield on the front. This is a protection present on the mini models, which makes them more resistant to falls, and that the iPhone SE 3 does not have.

Net of personal tastes, we are ready to bet that most would certainly prefer the full-screen design of the mini models.

Display

Again, there isn’t much in common. The display of the mini models certainly beats that of the iPhone SE. Let’s start from the diagonal, which on the SE 3 is just 4.7 inches, while on the minis it is 5, 4. Considering the features that Apple includes in its smartphones, the 4.7-inch diagonal seems really too limited, not able to satisfy the most common needs. Just think of video playback or surfing the net. It is clear, it is a very powerful terminal, thanks to the chip we will talk about later, but with an excellent screen. We cannot, however, not think that it is now too small for the use that Apple itself has accustomed us to the making of its smartphones.

SE features a Retina HD screen with IPS technology and a still very high pixel density of 326 ppi. The screen has a contrast of 1400: 1, makes use of True Tone, supports wide color gamut P3, and enjoys a peak brightness however remarkable for a smartphone, equal to 625 nits. Nothing compares to the Super Retina XDR present on the iPhone mini models, where the diagonal rises to 5.4 inches, in an overall body smaller than the SE, with HDR brightness of 1200 nits, and a contrast of 2,000,000: 1. Moreover, the minis are equipped with an OLED display, thus offering certainly superior overall quality.

Really want to try hard to find a point in favor of SE on the minis, we just can’t find it.

Chip and performance

iPhone SE 3 mounts the same A15 Bionic chip in strength of iPhone mini 13, even higher than the A14 Bionic chip of iPhone mini 12. It is, therefore, a monster of power, thanks to the new 6 Core CPU with 2 core performance and 4 core performance. It also benefits from a 16 core Neural Engine, which it shares with the iPhone mini models.iPhone SE 3 performance

Therefore, if you stop at the processor, you realize how powerful the third generation iPhone SE is, which will have nothing to fear even compared to Apple’s latest iPhone 13 mini. It is all this power, inserted in a by now antiquated body, and in such a small screen, that it leaves us perplexed. Like having a real Ferrari in your hands, but being able to drive it only inside the backyard. We are probably exaggerating in the metaphor, but it gives the idea of ​​how the iPhone SE 3 can be seen: in a really powerful terminal, which coexists with a look and other slightly dated features.

There is no doubt that in everyday use SE is comparable to iPhone 13 mini, if not superior to 12 mini, thanks to the new CPU. You will certainly be able to enjoy the whole ecosystem set up by Apple, even if with the limits already anticipated.

Even from this point of view, however, we continue to prefer the choice of a mini, even looking at the list, which we will deepen later.

Cameras

If you think that the iPhone is one of the most used smartphones in the photographic field, so much so that for most users it even replaces the camera, it is important to note the numerous differences between the different models. We start from the premise that iPhone mini models share the same hardware, even if the sensors are arranged differently. iPhone SE 3, on the other hand, is the only one of the Apple smartphones to have only one rear camera, compared to the two of the minis. It is a 12 MP sensor with a wide angle, while on the mini there is also the ultra wide angle sensor. SE 3 will certainly be able to return good photos, certainly able to counter the mid-range of Android devices, and maybe a little more.

Limitations

However, it is always limited compared to the mini family: it does not enjoy, for example, the night mode, the wide-angle sensor has a wider aperture, f / 1.8 against F / 1.6 of the minis, which are able to capture more light, and as for Zoom, it offers only 5X digital zoom, without enjoying the optical zoom out of the mini.

It is true, however, that it enjoys True Tone Flash, portrait mode, portrait lighting with six effects, Smart HDR 4 for photos, just like the mini models. Furthermore, it shares support for Photo Styles with iPhone 13 mini, which are not present on iPhone 12 mini.

Also on the front stands a huge difference: iPhone SE 3 has a 7MP sensor, while the mini 12MP. It is true that on the small screen you will not notice all this big difference, using it above all for video calls, but on the mini, the FaceTime calls are at 1080p, on the SE 3 not. On the mini, you can record with this camera in HDR with Dolby Vision up to 4K and 60 fps. Even for the front camera, the night mode is missing on SER, so those wishing to shoot in the dark will find a more valid ally in the mini models.

5G

In addition to the A15 Bionic chip, the new SE distances itself from its direct predecessor for 5G support, which it shares with the mini models. There is, however, a difference of antennas: iPhone SE 3 supports 5G with 2 × 2 MIMO technology, while on the mini models it is 4 × 4 MIMO technology. Wanting to simplify as much as possible, the presence of more antennas in the mini leads to higher speeds and better signal reception.iPhone SE 3 5G

Prices

This is where the third generation iPhone SE tries to find all its meaning. The new SE is the cheapest gateway to the Apple world. If you look at the price list it costs $429, against $699 for the 13 mini and $729 for the 12 mini. It is true that between SE 3 and 13 mini there are $270 of difference, even if in reality the street prices could reduce this gap.

The SE 3 is by no means a cheap smartphone because its price is slightly lower than many top of the Android range. So it’s true that it represents Apple’s new entry, but don’t call it low cost.

Which one to choose

When looking at Amazon prices we really struggle to find any reason to recommend the new SE.  Before the advent of the mini, SE found its reason in the handling and in the form factor. If in 2016 you preferred a powerful iPhone, but to be used with one hand and hidden in the pocket of jeans, you could certainly rely on this device.

Today, even the iPhone mini offers this possibility, however, with a larger, more performing, and certainly much more enjoyable screen. Furthermore, the design of SE, however iconic and still able to fascinate, is linked to a generation now past.

iPhone SE 3 is a great way to enter Apple’s iOS ecosystem, and it’s the one that will certainly cost you the least. If, however, you have a budget of $699 for a smartphone, which we believe to be high anyway, then it may be worth the extra effort to evaluate a mini. If, on the other hand, you are tied to the design of the iPhone 8, then run to buy SE 3.

Still, iPhone SE 3 might be the right choice for those who are fond of Touch ID and do not digest Face ID, even if in reality the latter system is infinitely more secure than the classic fingerprint protection.

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