Upgrade Experience Going From iPhone 6s to 2020 SE

Hardware & Accessories

I finally took the plunge and decided, after 4 years, to upgrade from my iPhone 6s. About a year ago, I started having significant battery problems with the 6s. I thought about upgrading then but I still really liked the 6s and I couldn't see spending at least $500 just for better battery life. So, I spent $50 and replaced the battery, so that I could hang on to it a little longer. Then, IOS 14 came around. The sluggishness bug introduced in 14.0 was eliminated in 14.1 but, even then, I found the phone to be a little more sluggish than it had ben under IOS 13. Between that and the fact that this will be the last year the 6s will get a major IOS upgrade, I decided to go ahead and go a few steps up the phone latter.

For me, the choice of new phone was easy. I like the size of the iPhone 6 through 8 and finger print ID. The 2020 SE would give me the same form factor and finger print ID, but with the A13 chip, which means the same performance of the iPhone 11 but at a much lower cost. The iPhone 11 or 12 would give me better battery life but, frankly, I just don't care about that, as I am rarely in a situation where I can't charge the battery at a time when it is likely to be running low. The 12 would give me the A14 chip, which would mean better performance, but I doubt that the difference would be something that I would notice in day to day use and I certainly don't think it would be enough difference to be worth around double the price of the SE. So, I got a 128 gig unlocked 2020 iPhone SE, from Best Buy, for $450. I've had it for a week and I'm glad I upgraded.

Let's start with performance, which is the main reason I upgraded. When I upgraded from my 4s to my 6s, 4 years ago, I was absolutely blown away by the difference in performance. The 4s was very very sluggish on IOS 9. Even just swiping around the home screen of the 6s, the increase in performance was very noticeable. It was like going from a bicycle to a sports car. This time, the performance difference was not so dramatic. Actually, my experience with the SE has served to emphasize just how well the 6s does with IOS 14, especially to be a 5 year old phone. There is very little difference when swiping around the home screen or through settings. The SE does open apps much quicker. When dealing with web based content, like in the news app or the FaceBook app, responsiveness is much better. When checking mail on the 6s, there is a significant delay between going into the app and being able to actually read newly downloaded messages. This is much much faster on the SE. To go back to the car analogy, going from the 4s to the 6s was like going from a bicycle to a sports car. Going from the 6s to the SE was perhaps more like going from a truck to a sports car. There is definitely a performance increase but not one that you would notice when just cruising around the parking lot. You're going to have to take it out on the highway.

Now, let's talk about audio. The internal speaker on the SE is, to my ear, much better than the one on the 6s. It is louder and richer, with more prominent base. The volume on my SE, when turned up 3 levels from zero (at 19%), is roughly equivalent to the 6s up 4 levels (at 25%). The SE has Bluetooth 5.0, compared to the Bluetooth 4.2 of the 6s. I was curious to see what difference this would make with latency with my AirPods 2. There is a slight but noticeable improvement in latency. I have found using the AirPods with Voice Over with the SE to be a nicer experience than with the 6s. Between the performance increase of the A13 chip and the decreased Bluetooth latency, it feels smoother and snappier. The 6s was the last iPhone to have a built in 3.5 mm headphone jack and I was one of the many who did not like it at all when I heard that they would be removing the headphone jack starting with the iPhone 7. However, after getting my AirPods almost two years ago, I find that I very rarely use the headphone jack anyway. So, its loss has turned out not to be a factor for me at all. I have been very happy with the audio performance of the SE.

Now, let's talk about the home button. Starting with the iPhone 7, there is no physical home button. With the iPhones 7, 8, and 2020 SE, there is a fingerprint sensor in the same place as the physical home button and it is pressure sensitive. When you press on it with approximately the same force as is required to depress a physical home button, you get a little haptic feed back, intended to make it feel like you are pressing a physical button, and the function of the home button is invoked. This did take some getting used to. Pressing the haptic home button does not quite feel to me like pressing a physical button. At first, it felt a bit strange. However, once I got used to it, I actually have found that I like it better. It feels more solid some how. The fingerprint part of the system works in exactly the same way and just as well. So, no issues with the home button.

Now, let's talk about battery life. I have heard it said, many times, both on Applevis and from many other sources, that the battery life on the SE is terrible. I wasn't really concerned about that but I was curious about it. I replaced the battery on my 6s less than a year ago and its battery health shows 97%. When I compare the SE to the 6s, I am comparing a new battery to a almost new battery so battery age isn't much of a factor here. I am getting at least somewhat better battery life on the SE than on the 6s. I would think that would be to be expected, as the SE has a slightly higher capacity battery than the 6s and the A13 is supposed to be more power efficient than the A9. When people say that the battery life on the SE is terrible, I suppose they are comparing it to phones like the iPhone 10, 11, and 12, all variants of which have much bigger batteries than the SE. When compared to those phones, I'm sure the battery life of the SE is not good. However, for my use case, I have not found it to be a problem at all. I haven't done a rundown test or any kind of quantification of battery performance but I can tell you that I can get several hours of screen time, with capacity to spare, between charges. For me, it hasn't been an issue at all.

Wireless charging and fast charging was introduced with the iPhone 8 and is included in the 2020 SE. I have not yet used these features. I am seriously considering getting a wireless charging pad and perhaps even a fast charging brick and cable. Regardless of whether I take advantage of these capabilities, I do like knowing that they are available to me.

This has by no means been an exhaustive review of the 2020 iPhone SE but I do hope that what I have recounted of my experience may help you to make a decision, if you are considering upgrading from the 6s to the 2020 SE or from any older iPhone to one of the new ones. The bottom line is that the increase in performance has not been quite as dramatic as one might think, moving up 4 generations, but, for me, it has been well worth it. I feel that the 2020 iPhone SE offers excellent performance and a really nice feature set, given its price point.



Submitted by Mister Kayne on Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Seriously, good going on the upgrade to the SE 2020. Where you messed up was paying that 50 to have the battery replaced on the 6S. The 12 Mini is now out there and it's tempting me but my upgrade was from the SE first edition to the SE 2020 and I must say it was a good decision but too early according to me, since the SE first edition still had 86% of battery health. Honestly, I was thinking about the same thing, replace the battery on the first edition SE and go to my grave with it, but you know how technology is; just when you think you have the best they bring out the better! I hope you were able to follow some of the tips on YouTube to help you get a good day of battery life. Enjoy your new device and wish you a great year ahead!

Submitted by Clare Page on Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hi! I think you made a good choice, upgrading from the iPhone 6S to the iPhone SE 2020: I say that from slightly similar experience, having upgraded from an iPhone 6 to an SE 2020 in April of this year. The battery of my iPhone 6 was dying by last spring, so I urgently needed to upgrade: it definitely wasn't worth renewing the battery in my 6, as that iPhone didn't even take IOS 13, let alone be upgradable to IOS 14, and the SE 2020 was my preferred upgrade choice because of its similarity to my previous iPhone. Given the bad state of my iPhone 6 battery, the life of the battery in the SE 2020 is obviously a big improvement. I bought a lightning to 3.5 mm adaptor as I prefer to use wired over-ear headphones instead of earpods, but I don't feel the need to buy a fast charger, especially as normally I can charge my iPhone any time, and using the ordinary cable and charging brick doesn't seem slow to me at all.

I don't think it was a mistake to replace the battery on the 6s. Think about it this way. I payed $450 for the second gen SE and I usually get 4 to 5 years out of a phone so that's about $100 per year. I payed $50 to replace the battery on the 6s and got almost another year out of it. To me, it was worth paying $50 for another year. Plus, the 6s still makes a good secondary device.

Submitted by Khushi on Thursday, December 31, 2020

I have an IPhone 6s. I was wondering how's the battory compared to it? I know you've mentioned a little about that but what are your views on it now? not looking to change my phone as I bought it last year also its my first IPhone :) so I really love it and fon't want to change it :) but was just curious
as this is the only one thing I hate about my Phone.. the battory..