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The iPhone SE 2022 has a big advantage over iPhone 13 — and it's not the price

A close-up on the iPhone SE 2022's home button and the "Press home to unlock" message
(Image credit: Apple)

There’s one feature the iPhone SE 2022 has that makes me miss Apple’s older smartphone designs: a physical home button with Touch ID. 

I’ve always been a Touch ID devotee, and I pray to the Cupertino gods before every Apple event that the next flagship iPhone will offer in-screen fingerprint recognition technology. Though my iPhone 13 Pro Max is the best phone you can buy, I’m a little dispirited that it didn’t find a way to incorporate Touch ID at a time when many were (and still are) wearing masks.

Apple’s solution? Upgrade Face ID to recognize when a user is wearing a mask. It rolled out the ability to use Face ID to unlock your iPhone while keeping your mask on in iOS 15.4, which will move past beta sometime later this week. The company also recently announced it would allow for repairs of Face ID and other damaged parts of the TrueDepth Camera system without replacing the entire phone. In other words, Face ID remains the biometric priority.

But last week, the newest iPhone SE debuted in the same familiar iPhone 8 design as the iPhone SE 2020. And while there are a few notable upgrades found when you compare the iPhone SE (2022) vs iPhone SE (2020), the chassis is identical, home button and all.

composite image of iphone se 2022 render and photo of iphone se 2020 in hand

(Image credit: Apple / Tom's Guide)

I'd give almost anything for Touch ID to return to the premium iPhone lineups. Without considering the important differences between the iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 13, I’d say the iPhone SE wins on the grounds of letting me get into my phone easier. Nothing is worse than Face ID not recognizing me when I’m trying to complete check out at CVS, or just get into TikTok when my face is smushed against a pillow in bed. (Speaking of TikTok, have you followed Tom's Guide on TikTok yet?)

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♬ FEEL THE GROOVE - Queens Road, Fabian Graetz

I don't even need the home button. I'm used to swiping up to switch apps to the point of no return anyway. I just want a way to get into my phone quickly with my finger, whether it's an under-display fingerprint reader or a fingerprint-sensitive button like on my iPad mini 6.

But I can't help but look at the new iPhone SE with envy. I really, really want Touch ID.

Sure, I'll respect the fact that Face ID is the safer biometric tool. Even my sister, who strangers often assume is my identical twin, can't get into my phone and vice versa. But I can't help but look at the new iPhone SE with envy. I really, really want Touch ID.

Unfortunately, there's no evidence Apple plans to re-introduce Touch ID in the flagship iPhone. In face most iPhone 14 rumors say Touch ID is definitely not in the works. Will I look to get an iPhone SE instead of stick to the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program as a result? Definitely not. The SE is an excellent value but at the expense of things like a 120Hz display and high-end camera system. 

So instead I must stay optimistic that a future iPhone will bring back my beloved feature. You can bet when it happens I'll be first in line to buy it.

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following (she'll find you if you don't.) When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.