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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  • boozed - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    This. Why do phones have to be so large you need two hands to operate them?
  • Peskarik - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    because they are primarily game devices and mini-TVs for the tech-savvy (that's the nice way to write addicted) youngsters.
  • Maxpower2727 - Saturday, April 25, 2020 - link

    Because lots and lots of people love larger phones and would never use something as small as this.
  • Deicidium369 - Sunday, April 26, 2020 - link

    I wish I had the girlish/trump hand needed to use a device this small. But unfortunately I have big American Man Hands, and am used to handling large items.
  • Retycint - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    You misspelled "reasonable, normal size for a smartphone in your opinion". Seriously, is it not common sense that some people have larger hands or are willing to sacrifice one-handed usability for more screen estate?
  • NA1NSXR - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    No, it is not common sense for effective and productive people. The people rocking the biggest phones in my world little girls and ignorant guys into Teslas.
  • Retycint - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    You must be living in a delusional world, then. Different people have different priorities, and one-handed usage is not a significant consideration for many.

    Unless you can tell me that one-handed usage significantly improves productivity and efficiency, enough to outweigh the benefits that a bigger screen brings. I'll wait.
  • Peskarik - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    productivity and efficiency, on a mobile Phone. :-D
    they are used to play games and watch YT/Netflix, what "productivity"!
    It is YOU who are living in a delusional world, mate.
  • Retycint - Friday, April 24, 2020 - link

    Well, he did say "common sense for effective and productive people", implying that one-handed usage somehow makes people more "effective and productive". Doesn't make sense, right? I know. No need to thank me when all of you are going against your own argument. In fact I haven't seen a single good point as to why small screens should be the norm.

    In fact, for "[playing] games and [watching] YT/Netflix", a bigger screen is desirable. So I'm not sure what point you are trying to make
  • Deicidium369 - Sunday, April 26, 2020 - link

    IKR - I am in the minority that I only use my phone for phone calls and text. I have used the navigation in the past, but as a Man, I can easily scry my location with dead reckoning. I have played Mahjong on mobile, never watched movies/videos on YT or Netflix. I can honestly say I accomplish nothing productive with my phone.

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