System Performance

Performance-wise, the inclusion of the new A13 chip should essentially blow the iPhone 8 out of the water given it’s two generations newer than the A11. For more details about the A13, please read our in-depth coverage of the chip in our review of the iPhone 11 series.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView JetStream 2 - OS Webview

In the steady-state Javascript web benchmarks, the iPhone SE unsurprisingly matches the newer iPhone 11. In JetStream, the phone even gets a boost here, which might be due to the newer iOS version. I haven’t had the chance to re-test the older iPhones, but I’m certain the scores will level out across the A13 generation devices.

WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView

On WebXPRT 3, the iPhone SE did score quite a bit worse than the iPhone 11 phones. This test is more interactive in its workloads and more impacted by DVFS responsiveness, rather than just being a continuous stead-state load. It’s very much possible that Apple has tuned down the DVFS of the chip in order to remain at the more power efficient frequency states for more workloads. I haven’t had the time to update Xcode to run our workload ramp test yet – but it’s something that can be easily verified in a follow-up update on the topic.

Update April 29th: 

I was also able to verify the CPU frequencies of the A13 in the iPhone SE, and the phone tracks identical peak frequencies as on the iPhone 11. This means that we're seeing 2.66GHz peak clocks on the Lightning cores when a single core is on, and up to around 2.59GHz when both cores are enabled. The Thunder cores clock in at up to 1.73GHz as well, just as on the iPhone 11’s.

The DVFS of the two phones is also identical – with the same ramp-up times between the SE and the iPhone 11. In general, any performance differences between the new SE and the flagship phones should simply be due to thermal characteristics of the smaller phone, possibly throttling things faster when under more strenuous workloads.

Overall Performance

Whilst I haven’t had too much time on the SE, the first impressions of the device are very much that this is just an as good experience as the iPhone 11 series. Much like on the iPhone 11 series, I actually feel that the raw performance of the hardware is actually hampered by the software, for example animations could be much shorter or even disabled in order to improve the user’s experience of speed and responsiveness. In either case, the iPhone SE’s performance is fantastic, and that’s due to the A13 chipset’s raw power.

Introduction & Design GPU Performance
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  • 137ben - Saturday, April 25, 2020 - link

    You don't get spyware with a Purism Librem 5 phone. Although, there are other drawbacks compared to iOS or Android.
  • Oxford Guy - Sunday, April 26, 2020 - link

    You get spyware with everything. Open source software may, in rare cases, be free of intentional spyware but the hardware will be compromised as well as the networks.
  • Deicidium369 - Sunday, April 26, 2020 - link

    but those drawbacks are it's a steaming pile of ...
  • 808Hilo - Sunday, April 26, 2020 - link

    Correct and its from Apple.
  • yeeeeman - Saturday, April 25, 2020 - link

    This makes most iphone phones look bad, because Android has a lot of very good midrange phones in this price segment.
    Take Xiaomi Redmi K30 pro. 450$. SD865. 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage. 5G. OLED display, bezel less. 64MP main camera. In display fingerprint sensor. This iphone is a joke compared to that. Still this iphone is starting to look like a decent proposition from apple compared to the rest of the lineup.
  • Fulljack - Sunday, April 26, 2020 - link

    that's no mid-range, that's budget flagship.
  • Deicidium369 - Sunday, April 26, 2020 - link

    not with that peasant resolution
  • flyingpants265 - Sunday, May 10, 2020 - link

    That's what makes it budget..
  • cha0z_ - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - link

    Dimensions 163.3 x 75.4 x 8.9 mm (6.43 x 2.97 x 0.35 in)
    Weight 218 g (7.69 oz)

    Nothing more to say, some people want smaller phones. Got a friend of mine who is like that, he switched from HIGH END RECENT android and it's his first ios device, could not be happier with his decision to switch. Not just because ios and the superior apps + running smoother + more features + exclusives, size was a big factor. My point is - each one have it's personal taste and on the smaller phone segment there is no equal to that new iphone se, especially if one is after more premium experience.

    Also the SE will be fully supported for 6 years with day one major/minor/beta as the most expensive current iphone. How about that Xiomi? I have a second hand iphone 6s from 2015 running rn ios 14 beta 3 - fast, smooth, can use it as daily without any complains. Also ios 14 added the few last missing things from android (app drawer, widgets on your home page, caller notification instead taking the whole screen, picture in picture for videos, to name a few).
  • heffeque - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    Personally I'm impressed on how big the phone is in comparison to the screen size. It's almost as big as an iPhone XS! ...yet the screen is a whole inch smaller!
    The battery is also tiny and not up to par with phones from this day and age.
    I don't really see what you see that's so impressive, other than CPU performance.
    A very lacking phone for almost $400.

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