Apple IPhone SE Review: Reminiscence: Telephony, Multimedia, Audio Quality

By 12:27 Tue, 17 Aug 2021 Comments

Telephony and messaging

The Phone app hasn't changed a bit - it does not support smart dial, but offers social integration. Blacklist is available for those needing this feature.

FaceTime is naturally available for all compatible iOS and Mac devices and allows you to create free voice and video calls to any other FaceTime-enabled device.

Apple is also offering Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) calling. If both parties support this service and it is on, the call won't be placed through the cellular network but the internet. This improves the audio quality and won't utilize your allotted monthly minutes.

The phonebook

The same goes for iMessage - once enabled, you can sdiscontinue free text and multimedia content, including voice-recorded messages, to any other iMessage-enabled Apple gadget.

FaceTime • FaceTime • iMessages • iMessages

As usual we've tested the loudspeaker performance of the recent iPhone SE. As usual the quality is uninspiring and worse than the iPhone 6s, while the sound is rather weak. The speaker loudness is almost the same as on the iPhone 5s, which is what we expected it to be. This means you should haged a close eye on your phone in noisy environments, or missing calls is a real possibility.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score

Samsung Galaxy S7 66.5 62.1 66.2 Below Average

Apple iPhone 6s 66.5 64.6 65.8 Below Average

Apple iPhone 5 66.8 66.1 67.7 Below Average

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact 66.3 65.0 70.5 Average

Apple iPhone SE 66.6 65.5 69.8 Average

Apple iPhone 5s 68.7 66.3 69.2 Average

Xiaomi Mi 5 66.9 67.2 74.0 Good

Samsung Galaxy S6 68.1 66.3 73.7 Good

Xiaomi Mi 4s 73.7 68.6 82.9 Very Good

Xiaomi Mi Note 75.9 68.9 83.3 Excellent

Photos offers better search, Live Photos

The Photos app offers the same layout and interface we met for the first time in the iOS 8. Your pictures are organized by date and location, if available. The views you can switch between are Moments, Collections and Year - just like before.

Photos app

A Recently Deleted album is also available in case you change your mind in the next 30 days.

The Search options in the Photos app has been improved with the option to search by location and date. And this applies not only for the Photos app itself, but Siri as well. That's really useful for those with lots and lots of photos on their devices.

Live Photos are available and you can invoke the 3-second animation by tap and hrecent on the picture as there is no 3D Touch tech. It allows you to preview both standard photos and Live Photos in the gallery. It's a pop-up with the picture and you can swipe it up for additional settings (Copy, Share, Delete).

Image editing

The integrated image editor is really powerful and could improve your photos a lot. You should try and play a bit with it, it's among the best we've seen on a mobile device and while it may offer lots of manual tweaks, its automatic enhancement options are rather good, too.

Limited video player

Unfortunately, iOS9 still hasn't done anything about the video player. You can upload only supported formats via iTunes or purchase videos from the iTunes store. This is an extremely disappointing showing by a platform that is supposed to excel at multimedia consumption.

The video player

Luckily there are many powerful video apps in the App Store, so you shouldn't worry that your iPhone can't be a powerful video player. With the correct app, it does everything you'd expect a normal device would do - play any kind of videos, with subtitles, and you can even cast it on an external display.

Music with Apple Music support

The iOS 9 music player looks a lot like the one from iOS 8 - it supports (ad-supported or ad-free) iTunes Radio and iTunes Match, as well as iCloud Music library. It syncs with your computer's iTunes library, streams from your Match and/or iCloud songs, as well.

The Music app with Apple Music

But in case that is not enough, there's also Apple Music. The service can replace all other cloud music features Apple has launched to date and offers you streaming of Apple's entire music catalog wherever you go.

Apple Music basically does what Google Music or any other similar service does - it allows you to stream songs, add them to playlists, and build an entire music library in the cloud. You can also download those songs for offline usage and unlike Google Music, Apple Music allows you to download single songs from albums.

Audio output doesn’t disappoint

We were wondering if the Apple iPhone SE audio output will follow that of its 4” iPhone 5s predecessor or the one of its iPhone 6s stablemate. Well the diminutive SE clearly takes after its contemporary, sharing its less-than-stellar stereo quality with an active external amplifier.

All the other readings were remarkable though and with the volume levels sitting comfortably above average it’s a solid performance.

Plugging in a pair of headphones barely caused any damage, which puts the iPhone SE in an even better position. There are only a handful of better performers out there - not that it matters too much as the 4” handset is clearly in a niche of its own.

Anyway, here go the results so you can do your comparisons.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk

Apple iPhone SE+0.01, -0.06-

Apple iPhone SE (headphones)+0.07, -0.06-92.592.50.00250.085-68.7

Apple iPhone 6s+0.03, -0.04-93.593.50.00160.0075-73.2

Apple iPhone 6s (headphones)+0.10, -0.06-93.893.90.00300.101-68.2

Apple iPhone 5s+0.02, -0.05-93.693.70.00130.0068-90.3

Apple iPhone 5s (headphones)+0.12, -0.00-93.493.30.00160.060-76.1

Xiaomi Mi 5

+0.01, -0.03-95.395.10.0034


Xiaomi Mi 5 (headphones)+0.01, -0.03-


Samsung Galaxy S7

+0.01, -0.04-92.592.60.0027


Samsung Galaxy S7 (headphones)+0.05, -0.05-91.992.10.0044


Apple iPhone SE frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.



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