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Unboxing iPhone SE (2020)

Works with iOS 17

Apple published the iOS 17 compatibility list at WWDC 23 and this device is on it! Good news.

  • iPhone 14
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation or later)

I needed a new phone for development and demo use for a side project. The iPhone SE (2nd generation) was introduced in April 2020 and discontinued in March 2022. Its model identifier is iPhone12,8, and it was available in Black, White and (PRODUCT) Red with 64GB, 128GB and 256GB Memory. As you can see I chose the (PRODUCT) Red one, as there was no difference in price and it looks distinctive as well as helping a good cause. Don't ignore it because it is the least expensive iPhone - it has the same processor as the iPhone 11!

  iPhone SE (2nd generation) iPhone 11 Pro
Processor Apple A13 Bionic
Speed 2.66GHz
Architecture 64bit ARMv8.4-A
Cores Hexa-core (2 high performance Lightning + 4 high efficiency Thunder)
Built-in Memory 3GB 4GB
Graphics Apple-designed 4 core GPU

Source: Wikipedia


Press release image

iPhone SE press image personal or editorial use

Source: Apple newsroom, for personal or editorial use


Note: This is the original version of the iPhone SE (2nd generation) which did come with a power adapter and EarPods.

iPhone SE (2020) Shipping Container iPhone SE (2020) Box shot iPhone SE (2020) Open box iPhone SE (2020) Whats in the box? iPhone SE (2020) Stickers iPhone SE (2020) Lightning cable, Lightning headphones iPhone SE (2020) Lightning cable, Lightning headphones iPhone SE (2020) Product Red edition


Where to buy in the UK

£138 buys you an iOS 17 capable iPhone in June 2023 on Amazon UK. Amazon say they are "Backed by the 1-year Amazon Renewed Guarantee and assert that this meains it is professionally inspected, tested and cleaned by Amazon qualified vendors, is not certified by Apple, is in "Excellent condition" with no signs of cosmetic damage visible from a distance of 30 centimeters and a battery that exceeds 80% capacity relative to new. Accessories may not be original, they note, but will be compatible and fully functional. Product may come in generic box.

If you havw something to trade which can make a huge difference to the cash you need to find, or just want the two year guarantee you can find them for £170 or less depending on condition at Computer Exchange and priced in June 2023.

Protect your new phone

A clear case shows off the red colour and provides some drop protection. A glass screen protector resists scratches.

Developer Setup

It is easy to transfer all the account settings from an existing iOS device by following the instructions from the Apple support guide - Set up your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Once completed plug the phone in to the macOS based computer you plan to use for development and Xcode will configure the phone for development. You might want to go to Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Auto-Lock to 'Never' so as to avoid having to keep unlocking the device to successfully deploy software for it

You'll also have to register the device with Apple via Xcode. It will ask you the first time you try to deploy a build to it. Use automatic profiles in your Xcode project and this will keep you from having to deal with the complexity of provisioning profiles as much as possible.

Xcode iPhone SE in devices


First impressions

Fast. Lovely screen. Apple call it an aerospace-grade aluminum and durable glass design with an all-black front. It is a quality item nothing low cost or flimsy here. Having to get used to having a button again takes a while after the iPhone X and 11 Pro. Absolute bargain for a new iPhone. For any reasonable end-user or developer this device makes perfect sense.

Long view

This phone now has iOS 17 developer beta installed.

The device runs beautifully quickly and only the black edges around the display and the physical home button betray the older design of the components. I haven't noticed any real world difference between the Haptic Touch on the iPhone SE and its predecessors 3D Touch. It just feels natural to use although if you have got used to buttonless iOS devices it has to be re-learned. Its pretty perfect for a phone and also pretty perfect for a developer device attached to Xcode.

I was surprised to find it supports wireless charging too and also supports fast-charging, giving up to 50 percent charge in just 30 minutes. I had assumed as a lower cost device that it did not have wireless charging.

Three years on this is still my go to developer phone. Its on all the time, its fast and it has plenty of battery life even though I often leave it plugged in to my Mac for development. I have had no issues with it and its great. Get one!