Competing in the High-end price segment, the Apple iPhone SE (2022) is the most affordable way to own a new iPhone. With a 4.7-inch IPS display, the device is fairly compact and powered by Apple’s own A15 Bionic chipset. In the camera department, the SE focuses on the essential and only comes with a 12MP wide-angle camera.
With no ultra-wide or dedicated tele camera on offer, let’s see how the Apple iPhone SE (2022) shapes up against the competition from the Android camp.
Key camera specifications:
- 12MP sensor
- f/1.8-aperture lens
- LED flash
- 4K at 24/25/30/60fps, 1080p at 25/30/60fps (tested at 4K/30fps)
About DXOMARK Camera tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 3000 test images and more than 2.5 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of our testing. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera test protocol, click here. More details on how we score smartphone cameras are available here.
Sub-scores and attributes included in the calculations of the global score.
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Use cases & Conditions
Use case scores indicate the product performance in specific situations. They are not included in the overall score calculations.
Photos & videos shot in bright light conditions (≥1000 lux)
Photos & videos shot in good lighting conditions (≥100lux)
Photos & videos shot in low lighting conditions (<100 lux)
Friends & Family
Portrait and group photo & videos
- Lack of fine detail
- Luminance and chroma noise
- Image artifacts, including ringing ghosting and color fringing
- Strong lack of detail when tele zooming
- Occasionally extremely underexposed night shots in flash-off mode
- Strong underexposure and shadow clipping in low light video
- Low texture/noise trade-off and indoor and low light video
- White balance casts in video
- Ineffective video stabilization and autofocus instabilities when moving while recording video
With a DXOMARK Camera score of 118, the Apple iPhone SE (2022) does well in its segment and has made significant improvements over its predecessor the iPhone SE (2020). But the lack of ultra wide and tele cameras on the 2022 version means it cannot quite keep up with the best-in-class Google Pixel 6.
When capturing still images, exposure is good in bright light and under typical indoor conditions, but images shot in low light are often underexposed. The autofocus performs well and is quite fast, thanks to zero-shutter-lag technology. A wide depth of field means background subjects are rendered sharp. Color rendering is accurate, with fairly neutral white balance.
On the downside, the texture/noise trade-off is fairly low. Images lack fine detail, and luminance noise and low-frequency chroma noise are often noticeable. Our testers occasionally also found artifacts, such as ringing, ghosting and color fringing.
This graph shows that the iPhone SE is capable of capturing good detail when mounted on a tripod in bright light and indoors. However, things quickly go downhill in low light. When handholding the phone detail is preservation is already low at indoor light levels and drops further in low light.
Zooming isn’t a strong point of the iPhone SE. Without an ultra wide camera there simply is no way to zoom out from the primary camera. Tele-zooming is done purely digitally, which results in a strong loss of detail as you can see in the samples below.
In video mode, the camera produces accurate exposure in bright light and indoors but, like for stills, underexposure can occur in low light. While recording in bright light or indoors white balance is fairly neutral and colors are pleasant and saturated. Autofocus can be a little unstable, though. This is particularly noticeable with moving subjects in the scene. The footage lacks fine detail, and while noise is only slightly visible outdoors it becomes more intrusive indoors and in low light, with some chroma noise mixed in. Stabilization works well while recording statically, but when moving or running while recording there’s a lot of camera shake.
In this sample clip, the face is well exposed, and a wide dynamic range ensures good detail on both face and sky. Exposure and dynamic range are also fairly stable across the entire video. Colors are pleasant, with good saturation, but some autofocus instabilities and pumping are noticeable. When it’s in focus, the face has good detail, though, and noise is low. The stabilization system is not capable of compensating for all camera motion.