Mr. Spoonauer, I appreciate tom's guide and phone reviews eg standardized battery testing. However, I cannot believe that you gave this phone such a high score when the battery life is so bad! (BTW I'm not an Apple hater. I give credit where it's due.) You even wrote an article about how this phone's battery life is poor but gave the phone 4.5/5 stars?!? Also, no OLED screen is surprising.
Don't get me wrong; I am glad that there are more phones at lower price points (actually there should be a lot more!). I'm a big believer in more affordable phones, but when review sites give devices inflated scores, I question credibility and motives. Do review sites ultimately want customers to buy products which support (even if indirectly) the review sites?
I am not trying to hurt your feelings; nor am I trying to single you out. Good luck, stay, safe, and thank you.
Those keeping their phones mostly in their pockets are happy to give up some battery life for smaller/lighter device. Should we lower scores of larger/heavier phones too? There is no "perfect", it's about trade-offs.
OLED is quite overrated and let's not forget about its disadvantages. A lot of people think that it is superior in every aspect because of the hype around it.
The vibrant colours of OLED are a bit better for certain use cases (colourful pixar movies and similarly themed games, viewing photos) but for many other activities I still prefer a good IPS panel (I find them to be a bit sharper). Both technologies have some serious flaws. This is why I use several different types of monitors at home.
I agree with the review that the IPS LCD display in the SE is a good one (bright, colorful, sharp). Its 326 ppi is lower than what we can find in most other recent phones. 400 and 500 ppi could add a bit of extra sharpness and detail but 300 is already very sharp. Driving a lower resolution display requires less graphics processing power so I'm OK with a 326ppi display as a trade-off in a small phone that doesn't have a lot of space for battery. This might be even more important for those who want to play some casual games during travel (I don't like gaming on smartphones).
The review pointed out every single weakness of the phone. It doesn't seem to be some kind of "buy it because it's perfect" promotion.
The iPhone SE got a good score because it's a very good package even with it's weaknesses. Unfortunately it's impossible to find other quality smart phones with the same or smaller form factor even with an unlimited budget. Probably because there would be a lot of people comparing the battery life to that of much larger devices with larger batteries.
I agree with you in many respects, but I respectfully disagree with some of your main premises. Small phone need not mean inadequate battery life. There are plenty of large phones with larger batteries that have bad battery life. Power hungry screen, power hungry processor, inefficient OS, bloatware, etc., all contribute to bad battery life. BTW I am not a fan of large phones even though I have large hands and slender fingers. (Even with my large hands, I struggle to use phones with one hand. There's no way most people can use their phones with one hand so I do not know why large phones became so popular, but I digress.)
Your comments regarding OLED are interesting. If you have sources, please feel free to share. I agree with you that it is probably best to use multiple different types of screens, but I vaguely recall articles stating that OLED is better for eyestrain. There is not enough discussion about eyestrain! Anecdotally, I know people swear that OLED is better for eyestrain. I find IPS LCD, at least on monitors, to have crazy high glare. I'm not saying LCD is not sharp, but OLED seems more like the future. (That must be why Apple is rumored to be putting miniLED in its next ipad Pro.)
Back to this 2020 iPhone SE, Apple put too much emphasis on the processor, which really does not matter much for non-gamers like you and me. That must be a reason why its battery life is so bad.
The Pixel 3a is considered a small phone; it is almost one YEAR OLDER but still has a better camera (very important in my opinion), better battery life (still on the tom's guide top 10 battery list), and better screen (OLED and higher PPI). AND it costed the same or less when it came out because so many retailers gave $100 gift cards. This iPhone is a bad triple whammy: worse key specs; one year later; and costs the same or more! I hoped this phone would be much better, but I'm disappointed.
If Apple charged significantly less for this phone, it might deserve a decent score. Actually, even if Apple charged A LOT less (eg $200), such a bad battery life is unacceptable. (IDK if the new Moto G Power is considered a small or large phone, but it apparently has the best battery life.)
It will be interesting to see how the Pixel 4a turns out. There really ought to be a lot more good budget and midrange phones in the US.
Being brand new to "smart phones" in general and the SE 2020 in particular, I can say I'm impressed with the technology embedded in so small a unit, but I'm not equipped to do any comparisons in operating systems nor hardware. I must also say, however, that I find most of it useless and/or frivolous. Having come over from a small flip phone, I took to the ads for the SE partly because of size and partly because of price. I was astounded at the price folks are willing to pay for a phone, regardless of it's capabilities. But what astounded me even more was the really terrible support for 'newbies' on the Apple site. If you're here, you probably take for granted the motions of swiping, sliding, tapping, pressing, etc. Apple shouldn't. After 2 calls to tech support to get the simplest of things straightened out, they finally referred me to UTube to get basic skill sets and instructions. That's correct - the corporation that now exceeds the net worth of all major oil companies sells a 400.00 dollar phone, charges 3.99 if you want to download a pdf of the instructions, and has to refer you to UTube to get basic operating instructions. Strikes me as asinine. Is the site slick? yes. It's a marketers dream, but try to wade through all the Madison Ave crap when you need an answer when you're new to the subject. I was within a hairs breath of sending it back for lack of simple, basic written directions on its use.
As I read through comments about what is and isn't an expected, neglected or a desired fixture/feature on these expensive little toys, my conclusion is that if everybody got back to dealing with basics first, all the phones and operating systems would improve greatly. For instance, I have an electric tooth brush, and the on/off switch is precisely where you want to place your thumb when using it - not a criminal offense for a 20 dollar appliance, but I'm finding similar poor design with the 400.00 SE. The buttons to the top left seem to be precisely where one wants to hold the phone. Why? I've already had half a dozen mishaps just holding the phone while trying to operate it.
As for battery life, I left mine sitting "on" overnight after a 100% charge with no apps running and the screen off. It used up 20% of it's battery life just sitting for 7 hours. That's not impressive and makes me wonder what I really need to do to take the phone camping, or to rely on it when wandering about the woods and using the compass or GPS functions. If I'm actually using the phone's apps, how much more would it be eating up and how quickly?
From a Newbie's perspective, these issues are far more pressing, but Apple seems to be preaching to the converted only, and aren't particularly concerned about folks new to the game.