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iPhone SE 2022 vs SE 2020 vs iPhone 13 mini: what's the best value small iPhone?

The iPhone SE 2022 might feel like a good deal, but with the cheaper iPhone SE 2020 and iPhone 13 Mini up for grabs, who wins the battle of the miniatures?

A lot of us might think that small-screen phones have had their day, but Apple's decision to release two mini iPhones in less than six months suggests the industry giant doesn't agree.

If you're a fan of a smaller handset, or it's a compromise you're happy to make for the cheaper price, a small iPhone might be for you.

Last September, Apple launched the iPhone 13 Mini as part of its flagship 13 series. This scaled-down phone has surprisingly similar specifications to to the iPhone 13 and a price tag to match, but Apple's most recent small-screen release in the iPhone SE 2022 is for the mid-market. It's had a couple of upgrades from the last time Apple released an SE model in 2020, but the 2020 version is still available to buy.

Browse our iPhone reviews to see how all of Apple's models fared in our tough lab tests.

iPhone SE series and 13 Mini compared

Apple iPhone SE 2022Apple iPhone SE 2020Apple iPhone 13 Mini
Screen size4.7-inches4.7-inches5.4-inches
Display resolution (pixels)1,334 x 7501,334 x 7502,340 x 1,080
Rear cameras12 Mp (wide)12 Mp (wide)12 Mp (wide), 12 Mp (ultrawide)
Front cameras7 Mp7 Mp12 Mp
Storage64GB - 256GB64GB - 256GB128GB - 512GB

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone SE 2020

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone SE 2020

If you can't imagine spending over £600 on a phone, the iPhone SE could be for you. The iPhone SE 2020 has come down in price, so what are you getting if you opt for the 2022 handset?

Matching displays

The 2022 SE has the same Retina LCD display with 1,334 x 750 pixel-resolution as the 2020 version. This is quite a low resolution and isn't as first-rate as an OLED screen that you'll find on a pricier phone, but it's got a superb level of peak brightness (625 nits).

A bigger battery

A bigger battery should give you a longer battery life and the iPhone SE 2022's 2,018mAh cell is an upgrade from the iPhone SE 2020's 1,821mAh. Apple also claims that the quicker A15 Bionic processor the phone runs on gives you 'the latest-generation battery chemistry and tight integration with iOS 15'. This fancy jargon basically means the battery should last longer because the phone's processor will be more efficient. A perk of both SE models is that they support fast charging and can be charged wirelessly.

Fine-tuning camera modes

The camera lenses haven't changed from the iPhone SE 2020. But tweaks in the software aim to give images an extra level of finesse.

You now get Smart HDR 4 to improve the colours, contrast and lighting of pictures even in challenging conditions and in 'night mode'. This is helped by the new Deep Fusion image processing system. Deep Fusion works in the background to improve the detail and texture of dark-light pictures and reduce any graininess. Apple's 'Photographic Styles' are another benefit exclusive to the 2022 model, which currently have four customisable options: Rich Contrast, Vibrant. Warm and Cold. These allow you to adjust the tone and warmth of your pictures.

But with only one lens on the back of the phone, an iPhone SE won't be for you if you're looking for the most versatile cameras.

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Should you opt for an iPhone 13 Mini?

iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone 13 Mini

The iPhone 13 Mini might be the smallest phone in the flagship 13 series, but its screen stretches 5.4-inches, which is 0.7-inches bigger than on the iPhone SE 2022. A Super Retina OLED screen with 2,340 x 1,080 pixel-resolution is superior to the LCD display on the iPhone SE. This might win you over if you use your phone a lot to browse or watch videos.

You can get up to 512GB of memory on the iPhone 13 Mini, whereas the iPhone SE stops at 256GB. This might be a sticking point if you need lots of storage because you can't expand it with an SD-card.

However, the iPhone SE 2022 is equipped with the same processor as the iPhone 13 Mini, which is one of the most powerful chips on the market. The rear of the phone has the same tough glass as in the iPhone 13 series and they have a similar dust and water resistance that can handle the stresses of everyday life.

But if you're looking for premium cameras, the iPhone 13 Mini is your best bet. It has two rear lenses made up of a 12 Mp wide camera, and a 12 Mp ultra-wide camera to expand how much you can get in your pictures. The SE and 13 Mini both record videos in 4K but the iPhone 13 Mini has Dolby Vision HDR (up to 60fps) for a wider variety of colours and more visible detail.

Find out if this phone lived up to the claims when we sent it to the lab in our iPhone 13 Mini review. Or check out the best iPhone 13 Mini contract deals.

Before the iPhone 13 Mini, there was the iPhone 12 Mini released in 2021. With a similar display and cameras as the iPhone 13 Mini, you might be able to save money opting for the older handset. Read our iPhone 12 Mini review to find out more. Or check out the best iPhone 12 Mini contract deals.

Love a bargain? Our round-up of the best deals on mobile phones includes some tempting discounts on iPhones.