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iPhone SE 3 performance matches iPhone 13, benchmarks show

Apple iPhone SE (2022) color lineup on a red background
(Image credit: Apple)

At its Peek Performance event last week, Apple made it pretty clear that the upcoming iPhone SE 3 would offer the power of the iPhone 13 in a cheaper shell thanks to its usage of the same A15 Bionic chipset. 

And now the first benchmarks for the phone have popped up on Geekbench, it appears the company wasn’t exaggerating. A new listing for a device called the ‘iPhone 14,6’ — the identifier for the new iPhone SE — has appeared on Geekbench offering a single-core score of 1,695 and a multi-core one of 4,021. For reference, that’s very similar to the average performance registered on iPhone 13, where the scores come to 1,673 and 4,483 respectively. 

While the latter score sounds a lot better, you likely wouldn’t notice the difference in day-to-day use, and it’s based on many handsets, rather than the isolated sample for the iPhone SE 3 numbers. In other words, it could be closer still.

The listing also confirms that Apple has boosted the amount of RAM in the iPhone SE 3 to 4GB: 1GB up on the previous model, and on par with the iPhone 13. The iPhone 13 Pro, meanwhile, gets 6GB RAM, but keeps the same A15 SoC.

A different kind of mid-ranger 

We can’t overstate how good this is for consumers. The A15 Bionic is the best mobile chip around, comfortably beating the most capable Qualcomm alternative in benchmarks (likely in part due to Apple building both the hardware and software). At $429 it will likely be extremely hard to beat in the battle of the best cheap phones

It’s notably a different offer to that made by other mid-range phone providers. The Pixel 5a, for example, uses the mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G to hit its $449 price point. It’s a solid chip, but no match for the Qualcomm’s own top-end processors, let alone Apple’s — which may explain why the upcoming Pixel 6a is rumored to use Google’s own Tensor chip instead.

Obviously Apple has to make cuts in other places to keep the iPhone SE price down. The design is half a decade old now, given it’s the same shell as the iPhone 8, and camera performance likely won’t be on par with the best camera phones

All the same, it’s hard to argue that Apple is doing a great service to those that want an iPhone, but can’t justify the high price of entry for the flagship models. Keep an eye out for our full review soon.

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.