Given a choice between the iPhone SE 3 and the iPhone 12, most would go for the iPhone 12. And that’d be the right choice – here’s why…

The iPhone SE 3 isn’t a particularly exciting phone. It has 5G and a slightly better battery than its predecessor, as well as Apple’s new A15 chip, but it still uses the same design as before – Apple’s iPhone 8 chassis, recycled once again.

Apple will still sell millions of iPhone SE 3 units though; it always does, seemingly regardless of what the phone is actually like. If you’re in the market for a new iPhone, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, should you buy the iPhone 12 or the iPhone SE 3?

iPhone SE 3 vs iPhone 12 – Which is Best?

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The iPhone SE 3 is newer and it runs Apple’s latest chip, the A15. But that’s about as good as it gets with this phone. I would take an iPhone 12 over the iPhone SE 3 every day of the week and twice on a Sunday.

The iPhone 12 is a better phone in almost every conceivable way. From its design to its battery life and camera, the iPhone 12 offers more, costs the same, and looks better. What more could you want!?

CPUs – It’s Not As Big A Difference As You Think

The A14 CPU inside the iPhone 12 is still more than enough for 2022. Apple’s chipsets are now so good that you could technically run a three-year-old iPhone and not run into any issues whatsoever. This makes the fact that the iPhone SE 3 uses a newer chip a moot point, in my opinion.

The iPhone SE 3 will be slightly more powerful than the iPhone 12, but the SE 3 does not have as much RAM as the iPhone 12 and that will make a difference to how the phone handles itself. Plus, with the iPhone 12, you get all the modern trappings too – stuff like 5G, FACE ID, and a more modern camera module on the front and rear.

Design – The BIG Difference

Apple’s iPhone 8 is now almost half a decade old which, in phone years, is like being 80 years old. But Apple is still using its design for its “new” iPhone SE 3. Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 uses Apple’s modern design language – it has a notch with FACE ID inside it and no physical home button.

The iPhone 12, despite the fact it has a 6.1in OLED display, is still a relatively compact phone. It isn’t as small as the iPhone 12 mini but it is easy to use in one hand, thanks to the removal of the home button and the area it occupied at the base of the phone’s frontage, and, of course, the inclusion of FACE ID which takes care of biometrics and your front-facing camera.


Apple has updated some of the iPhone SE 3’s camera tech; it has added in things like Night Mode and Portrait Mode but the actual, physical tech that makes up its camera module is exactly the same as the one found inside the iPhone SE 2020 which, in turn, is more or less the same as the iPhone 8’s camera – a single 12MP lens.

The iPhone 12, meanwhile, uses a two 12MP lens inside its rear-mounted camera module.It has useful things like an ultra-wide lens and a wide-angle lens, as well as things like Face Detection and HDR and Dolby Vision HDR for video. Images shot with the iPhone 12’s camera will not only look better, but you’ll be able to take them in lower light conditions too.

Again, the iPhone 12 is a vastly superior phone in this context. If camera performance is important to you, go with the iPhone 12 over the iPhone SE 3.

Battery Life

The iPhone SE 3 is a small phone and, by proxy, it has a small battery. A small battery is fine if you’re not running 5G. But the iPhone SE 3 does run 5G and while Apple has managed to extend its battery life by 90 minutes compared to the iPhone SE 2020, the battery performance still pales in comparison to the larger iPhone 12.

The iPhone 12’s battery life, however, isn’t as good as the iPhone 11’s – again, this is because of the inclusion of 5G. But the iPhone 12 does have better battery life than the iPhone SE 3, and it does this simply by using a much larger battery. Again, if battery life is important, the iPhone 12 is once again the obvious choice here.

Is The iPhone 12 Better Than The iPhone SE 3?

The iPhone 12 is 100% superior to the iPhone SE 3 in nearly every way. The only “slight” edge the iPhone SE 3 has over the iPhone 12 is that it runs Apple’s newer – and slightly more powerful – A15 CPU. Beyond that, the iPhone SE 3 loses in pretty much every other way, including its design, its camera, and its battery life.

And then there’s the price. The iPhone SE 3 is more expensive than the iPhone SE 2020 – by about $30/£30 on all variants. Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 – if you go the refurbished route – can be had for around the same price as a new iPhone SE 3. Don’t be put off by the refurbished part either; refurb iPhones look and function as good as new ones but they cost 40% less.

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REBOXED: The Best For UK & EU

REBOXED has a massive selection of refurbished iPhones, Samsung phones, Apple Watch devices, AirPods, and more. If you’re after quality, reliability, and the best prices on the market, REBOXED is where it is at for users in the UK and Europe. 

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Gazelle: The US’ #1 Refurb iPhone Specialist

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I buy ALL my iPhones refurbished and have done for years. I’d advise you to do the same as well. And if you’re thinking about getting the iPhone SE 3, don’t bother – get the iPhone 12 for the same money and get yourself a vastly superior phone for more or less the exact same amount of money.