iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini: It all comes down to battery life

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini
iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini (Image credit: Future)

The iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini is a dramatic duel between two pocket-friendly powerhouses — and we can’t wait to see ‘em rumble. Apple announced the iPhone SE 2022 during its March 8 “Peek Performance” livestream, piquing the interests of consumers who want access to the Apple ecosystem without spending an arm and a leg.

The iPhone 13 mini, if it were a sentient being, would surely feel threatened. “I’m supposed to be the top pick for budget-conscious iPhone fans! How dare the new iPhone SE undercut my prices and steal my shine!” a personified mini would say. The mini’s starting price is nearly $300 more than the iPhone SE 2022, but if I were the mini, I wouldn’t be too envious. 

Although the iPhone SE 2022 is cheaper, it has unattractive features that may be a dealbreaker for some consumers, including its rear single-lens camera setup and obsolete, thick-bezel design and disappointing battery life. However, to the mini’s dismay, the new SE also sports bewitching aspects that bring it up to par with the tiny iPhone 13, including its ultra-fast A15 Bionic processor. As such, we’re not surprised that some consumers may be stuck at a crossroads between the iPhone SE 2022 and iPhone 13 mini. 

This fiery face-off will bring clarity — a moment of truth, if you will — to prospective buyers who are unsure which pocket-sized iPhone is best for them. Let’s get these two petite phones inside our wrestling ring.

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini: Specs 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini
Row 0 - Cell 0 iPhone SE 2022iPhone 13 mini
Starting price$429$699
Display4.7-inch, Retina HD, LCD 1334 x 750 pixels5.4-inch, Super Retina XDR OLED, 2,340 x 1,080 pixels
CPUA15 BionicA15 Bionic
RAM4GB4GB
Storage Options64GB/128GB/256GB128GB/256GB/512GB
Rear camerasOne 12 MP wide lensTwo 12MP lenses (wide and ultra-wide)
Selfie camera7MP12MP
Battery sizeTBA 2,438 mAh
Water resistanceYes, IP67 Yes, IP68
ColorsMidnight, Starlight and (PRODUCT)REDRed, Orange, Lavender, Mint, Navy, WhiteStarlight, Midnight, Blue, (PRODUCT)RED and Pink.
Dimensions5.18 x 2.53 x 0.30 inches5.2 x 2.5 x 0.3 inches
Weight5 ounces4.97 ounces

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone mini 13: Price and value 

Pre-orders for the iPhone SE 2022 went live on March 11. The new SE will be available on March 18. The starting price is $429, which comes with a zippy A15 Bionic chip, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

iPhone SE 2022

iPhone SE 2022 (Image credit: Apple)

Trust me — you’ll want to cough up at least $50 for the 128GB variant. If you have an affinity for taking lots of photos and videos, and hoarding all of your memories, the 64GB iPhone SE 2022 doesn’t have sufficient storage space. The 256GB model is the most spacious iPhone SE; it’ll set you back $579.

The iPhone 13 mini, on the other hand, has a starting price of $699 (with an installment plan). It, too, comes with an ultra-fast A15 Bionic processor and 4GB of RAM, but the entry-level model comes with 128GB of storage. The 256GB and 512GB variants cost $799 and $999, respectively.

iPhone 13 mini

iPhone 13 mini (Image credit: Laptop Mag/ Sean Riley)

Both phones can be connected to the AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon networks. The iPhone 13 mini tacks on an extra $30 to the price ($729) if you choose to forgo purchasing an installment plan on Apple's official website. (opens in new tab)

Winner: iPhone SE 2022 

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini: Design 

The iPhone SE 2022 is the dude who walks into a function with an out-of-style outfit and partygoers whisper, “Ew, that guy is stuck in the 90s! Get with the times!” Does he care? Not in the least.

iPhone SE 2022

iPhone SE 2022 (Image credit: Future)

The new SE hardly looks — well — “new.” It still sports the same iPhone 8 shell as its predecessor, which means its bezels are still unattractively thick and démodé. Its backside only has one camera lens; a tell-tale sign of obsolescence in a world filled with quad-camera systems. On top of that, it has a behind-the-times home button that doubles as Touch ID (a fingerprint scanning feature many iPhone fans want to see return to flagship devices).

Among folks who aren’t tech-savvy, they’ll assume that you’re still holding on to an iPhone that’s several generations old. This may not irk you if you don’t care about owning a phone with an outmoded design, but for others, it may make them feel out of place.

iPhone 13 mini

iPhone 13 mini (Image credit: Laptop Mag/ Sean Riley)

The iPhone 13 mini, on the other hand, features Apple’s modern design language, which is ironically inspired by the iPhone 4. It has a squared-off appearance with flat-edge, aluminum sides. The sides are wide enough that the iPhone 13 mini can stand on its own “two feet” on flat surfaces, whether you position it horizontally or vertically. I can’t say the same for the iPhone SE 2022.

At 4.97 ounces, the iPhone 13 mini is negligibly lighter than the iPhone SE 2022 (5.02 ounces). With dimensions of 5.18 x 2.53 x 0.30 inches, it has a smaller form factor than the iPhone SE 2022 (5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches), but it’s a hair thicker.

Winner: iPhone 13 mini 

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini: Display 

The iPhone 13 mini’s Super Retina XDR OLED display is inarguably better. Its 5.4-inch panel is larger than the new SE’s Retina IPS LCD 4.7-inch screen. The iPhone 13 mini has a screen-to-body ratio of 85%, which crushes the SE’s screen real estate (65%).

iPhone 13 mini

iPhone 13 mini (Image credit: Laptop Mag/ Sean Riley)

The mini’s pixel count is better, too, offering a 2,340 x 1,080-pixel display compared to the SE’s 750 x 1334-pixel screen. The mini is also more brilliant than the SE with a 788-nit display compared to SE’s 596 nits.

Now let’s take a look at our colorimeter results to determine how well the SE’s display reproduces color. It covers 81% off the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is slightly less than the mini (83%). We also tested both phones for color accuracy. The iPhone SE 2022 has a Delta-E score of 0.21 (closer to 0 is better); the mini has a less impressive score of 0.27.

iPhone SE 2022

iPhone SE 2022 (Image credit: Apple)

Both phones offer 60Hz refresh rate screens (the mini surely regrets that it can’t offer a 120Hz display like the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max), but it’s worth noting that the iPhone SE 2022 doesn’t have Apple’s controversial notch design that dips into the iPhone 13 mini’s display.

Winner: iPhone 13 mini

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini: Performance and graphics 

The iPhone 13 mini doesn’t have a lot of room to brag here; the new SE sports the same beastly A15 Bionic chip packed inside its system. 

iPhone SE 2022

iPhone SE 2022 (Image credit: Apple)

 The powerful processor blows all competitors out of the water, but it’s worth noting that the A15 Bionic chip is excessive — it’s like putting a jetpack on Roadrunner or putting the Tasmanian Devil on a high-speed turntable. Both characters are already blisteringly fast, so they don't need enhancements. In the same way, Apple’s A-series chipset has been the world’s fastest mobile processor for several years now, but the Cupertino-based tech giant still updates it every year to stay ahead of the game. 

iPhone 13 mini

iPhone 13 mini (Image credit: Laptop Mag/ Sean Riley)

As such, the A15 Bionic is overflowing with processing power for both the iPhone SE 2022 and iPhone 13 mini. On the Geekbench 5 overall performance test, the iPhone 13 mini notched a multi-core score of 4,643. The iPhone SE 2022 produced a score of 4,482.

It’s interesting to note, however, that the iPhone SE 2022 crushed the iPhone 13 mini on Jetstream 2, a benchmark designed to show how well a device runs through webpages. The iPhone SE 2022 yielded a score of 215, surpassing the mini’s score of 205 by a hair.

We also put both phones through the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme stress test, a graphics benchmark that reveals whether a device can handle intense mobile gaming. The iPhone SE 2022 produced a score of 1,943, but got eclipsed by the mini (2,423).

Winner: iPhone 13 mini 

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini: Cameras 

Yawn! The iPhone SE 2022’s camera hardware specs are less than exciting. It has a 12-megapixel, f/1.8 wide lens on the back and a 7MP, f/2.2 selfie camera on the front. Fortunately, its A15 Bionic chip swoops in to save it from mediocrity. Thanks to the chip’s custom-built Image Signal Processor (ISP), the iPhone SE's camera software experience is much better than its predecessor.

iPhone SE 3

iPhone SE 3 (Image credit: Apple)

When Apple introduced the iPhone 13 line last year, it made a big to-do about new features such as Photographic Styles, which lets you fiddle with tone and warmth while preserving the subject’s skin tone. Now, iPhone SE 2022 users can mess around with Photographic Styles, too, thanks to the device’s updated computational photography capabilities. The iPhone SE 2022 also boasts Smart HDR 4 (refines contrast, lighting and more with the latest software) and Deep Fusion (optimizes for texture and detail).

The iPhone 13 mini packs the same software goodies as the iPhone SE 2022, but has extra features that may catch your eye. Although Apple claims that the A15 Bionic chip enhances the SE’s photos in low-light settings, it doesn’t have Night Mode. If you love going out for late-afternoon strolls or enjoying your town’s nightlife, the iPhone SE 2022 won’t cut it for you. The iPhone 13 mini has Night Mode that is automatically triggered in dim environments, which works to decrease noise in pictures.

When Laptop Mag’s Assistant Managing Editor, Sean Riley, reviewed the iPhone 13 mini, he was impressed with how well Night Mode worked behind the scenes to enhance pictures taken in dim lighting. We don’t know how the iPhone SE 2022 fairs in low-light conditions, but we’re certain that it won’t meet the iPhone 13 mini’s caliber.

iPhone 13 mini Cinematic Mode

iPhone 13 mini (Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

The iPhone 13 mini comes with a rear dual-camera setup: a 12MP, f/1.6 wide-angle primary sensor and a f/2.4, 12MP ultra-wide lens. Last year, Apple updated the wide lens to 1.7µm  pixels (up from 1.4µm) to offer better low-light performance, and the ultra-wide lens received Night Mode support. And let’s not forget about the mini’s 12MP front-facing camera, which is ideal for selfies. It also taps into Apple’s TrueDepth system for Face ID and an enhanced Portrait mode.

We don’t have iPhone SE 2022 image samples yet, but if you want to check out how the mini’s cameras perform, take a look at the galleries featured inside our iPhone 13 mini review. 

Winner: iPhone 13 mini 

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini: Battery life 

Aah! Talking about the iPhone SE and battery life brings back triggering memories. While our Editor Darragh Murphy adores the 2020 iPhone SE, I have a less rosy perception of the new SE’s predecessor due to its short battery life. I can’t tell you how many times I’d charge my SE 2020 to 100% and shout “How is this happening?!” after realizing the battery drained to 10% in just a few hours. 

iPhone SE 3

iPhone SE 3 (Image credit: Apple)

Aah! Talking about the iPhone SE and battery life brings back triggering memories. While our Tech Editor Darragh Murphy adores the 2020 iPhone SE, I have a less rosy perception of the new SE’s predecessor due to its short battery life. I can’t tell you how many times I’d charge my SE 2020 to 100% and shout “How is this happening?!” after realizing the battery drained to 10% in just a few hours. 

I was fearful that the iPhone SE 2022 would suffer the same fate, but my concerns quelled after Apple told The Verge that it placed a larger battery inside the device. Plus, Apple claims that the A15 Bionic’s power efficiency should positively affect the phone’s runtime. However, according to the Laptop Mag battery test, which involves continuous web surfing at 150 nits on a cellular network, my suspicions were correct. The iPhone SE 2022’s battery life does, indeed, stink.

The new SE only lasted 7 hours and 38 minutes, which is much worse than the runtime we recorded for its predecessor (9 hours and 18 minutes). Our sister site, Tom's Guide, recorded a runtime of 9 hours and 5 minutes, which also falls short of the iPhone SE 2020.

The mini also doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to battery life — at least compared to the other three devices in the iPhone 13 line. According to the Laptop Mag battery test, the iPhone 13 mini lasted only 8 hours and 51 minutes.

Neither phone is a battery life champion, but you’d be better off with the mini.

Winner: iPhone 13 mini

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 13 mini: Software 

The iPhone SE 2022 and iPhone 13 mini run the same software: iOS 15. Like the iPhone 13 mini, the iPhone SE 2022 will benefit from many beloved iOS 15 features, including Focus (a mode that reduces distractions while plugging at work) and SharePlay (enables iOS users to watch TV shows and movies together inside FaceTime).

Privacy-minded users will also appreciate iOS 15’s dedication to security. The mobile operating system provides increased visibility into how apps use your data, protecting you from unauthorized data collection. With iOS 15, you have more power over what is shared to other apps. Thanks to the iOS 15 App Privacy Report, you can also see how apps are using the permissions you’ve relinquished to them.

As of this writing, we’re expecting iOS 15.4 to roll out to the public soon. The most exciting features that may come with iOS 15.4 include Face ID that supports mask wearers and new emojis.

Winner: Draw 

Overall winner: iPhone 13 mini 

The iPhone 13 mini wiped the floor with the iPhone SE 2022 in this wrestling match, leaving the budget-friendly phone beaten and defeated. While the iPhone 13 mini offers a better design, display, cameras and battery life, we understand that shelling out an extra $300 is nothing to scoff at.

That being said, the iPhone SE 2022 is for budget-conscious users who don’t care to have one of the best cameras on the mobile market. The ideal consumer for the iPhone SE 2022 is someone who says, “I don’t need all the bells and whistles, especially if it will cost me $700! Give me a decent, budget phone with the basics, and I’ll be fine!”

The iPhone 13 mini will resonate with folks who want to enjoy the luxury of flagship-tier specs, but can’t stand extra-large phones. The mini is also for consumers who want to be a part of the iPhone 13 club, but want to spend as little as possible.

Whether you snag the iPhone 13 mini or the iPhone SE 2022, you’ll have a pocket-sized powerhouse in your hands.

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!