System Performance

With the iPhone SE I've decided to make the transition to our 2016 benchmark suite. We've been including some of these for a little while now, and some tests from our previous suite are still around. There is one test omitted, which is Basemark ES / Basemark Metal, which we'll be deploying once we have all the data from this year's flagship Android smartphones. Comparisons to those Android phones will also have to wait until their respective reviews, and for now I can only really compare the iPhone SE to Apple's other iPhones along with 2015's flagship Android devices.

Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT 2015 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

JetStream 1.1

At this point I think we're ready to move to our 2016 web browser benchmarks. Octane is now retired, as there's  a large degree of overlap between it and JetStream, with JetStream using a more sensible methodology with measurements for tests like the mandreel-latency test. Kraken, Octane, and Jetstream all have some overlap, but Kraken and JetStream are different enough to make it worth keeping Kraken on. Finally there's WebXPRT 2015, which we already introduced as a replacement for WebXPRT 2013 some time ago. 

As expected, the iPhone SE matches the iPhone 6s in our JavaScript tests. The improvement over the iPhone 5s is significant, with roughly double the performance in all cases. This is right in line with Apple's 2x performance claim, and it's important to note that these are updated iPhone 5s figures run on iOS 9 to ensure that it also benefits from the improvements made to Apple's Nitro JavaScript engine since it launched in 2013. 

3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Unlimited ES 3.1 / Metal - Graphics

3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Unlimited ES 3.1 / Metal - Physics

3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Unlimited ES 3.1 / Metal - Overall

We originally planned to use 3DMark Sling Shot Unlimited, which is an OpenGL ES 3.0 test that runs off screen 1920 x 1080 tests to produce results that are useful for comparing devices and SoCs. However, in the interest of test longevity we have moved to the even newer Sling Shot Extreme test, which uses OpenGL ES 3.1 on Android and Metal on iOS, with a Vulkan version coming to Android in the future. The tests in Sling Shot Extreme render off screen at 2560 x 1440, so it should be a good target for GPU performance well into the future.

In this test the iPhone SE performs well. I experienced a strange situation where the iPhone 6s would consistently score lower than the SE, and I'm not sure if this is due to driver differences or some other problem, but in any case the SE and the 6s both end up at the top of the chart, and the final score is nearly three times higher than that of the iPhone 5s. I'm still waiting on final reviews for this year's Android flagships, so comparisons to Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890 will have to wait a bit longer.

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Onscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Offscreen)

With T-Rex HD being such an old test, I've decided to retire it except perhaps for reviews of devices with relatively slow SoCs. That leaves GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan, and hopefully GFXBench 4.0 in the near future. In Manhattan the iPhone SE performs exceptionally well, achieving a frame rate that is ever so slightly more than three times that of the iPhone 5s. While there's obviously a degree of variance, I think this shows that Apple's 3x GPU performance claim is not an exaggeration, and on such a tiny display with a relatively low resolution you can render a scene like Manhattan at native resolution and almost achieve 60fps.

NAND Performance

With the first generation of the MacBook, Apple introduced their own PCI-E SSD controller with support for NVMe. At the launch of the iPhone 6s and iPad Pro, they noted that both devices had significantly improved storage performance. During the course of our review we discovered that Apple had essentially brought some version of their controller down to their mobile devices, and as a result they led the rest of the mobile market by a large margin when it came to overall storage performance.

With the iPhone SE, Apple uses the same controller as they do in the iPhone 6s and iPad Pro. Since this iPhone is a 64GB unit, we can take a look at the potential impact of a smaller SSD that may not be able to utilize parallelism to achieve the same performance as its 128GB and 256GB counterparts in Apple's other devices. To analyze the storage performance of the iPhone SE I've used StorageBench, a NAND benchmark developed by Eric Patno which is comparable to our AndroBench 3.6 test on Android.

Internal NAND - Random Read

Internal NAND - Random Write

Internal NAND - Sequential Read

Internal NAND - Sequential Write

Despite the fact that the storage capacity is half that of our iPhone 6s review unit, the iPhone SE performs essentially just as well. Random reads actually end up being faster, while random writes are nearly identical. Sequential reads trail the 6s by a bit, but sequential writes end up being identical much like random writes. The differences are enough to attribute to testing variance, and it's probably safe to say that the storage performance on the 64GB iPhone SE is identical to that of the 64GB and 128GB models of the iPhone 6s.

Intro and Design Battery Life and Charge Time
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  • SourAPL16 - Sunday, May 22, 2016 - link

    On Monday, 23rd, I will be going after my FOURTH I Phone model, since turning my 6PLUS in
    but one month ago. I have had, now three SE's in rapid succession. My service is VERIZON. I have not had a dropped call in memory. In the last two weeks I have had several everyday. THE SE Sucks, in my humble opinion. Even switching Sim cards, no change in the lack of performance. I had my 5C for almost 3 years; great service. I jumped at the 6Plus because of
    Verizon's newer acquisition program. No more big downstrokes. I wanted to be Mr. Cool among the fam and I was for a couple months. My arthritic hands became increasingly stressed as I
    attempted to heft and use the Monster. Hip but terribly frustrated. Opted to downsize to the SE
    for my damaged hands ease of handling and for SE's new goodies. The goodies have not come
    close to offsetting the misery of telephonus interruptus! Any other sufferers want to start a
    SUPPORT GROUP??? Considering moving to a straight 6; my wife's is easy to handle. Stay tuned!!!
  • kimi33 - Monday, May 23, 2016 - link

    Highly recommend this SELECTEC 8600mAh White Ultra-Thin Pocket Size Power Bank to you, only $15.99 after coupon code M6TBH358,
  • GB123 - Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - link

    Here in Taiwan -

    LG G4 32G = USD$340 without contract
    iphone se 16GB = USD$483 without contract

    iPHone SE is definitely not the one with best camera at USD$4xx, not to mention the expansion capability.
  • mike_IC97 - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    This phone is super fast and has an excellent camera but if you are a headphone junkie like me and like to blast your tunes all the time the 5s has a much cleaner and more dynamic sounding headphone output. Just my 2 cents
  • Assimilator87 - Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - link

    Hey Brandon, here's a proposal for an experiment: You should get acclimated to the iPhone 6s Plus and then switch over to the HP Veer. I'd like to research the behaviors and symptoms that may arise from such a traumatic experience ;-)
  • skrafi151 - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    This iPhone has nice features and for service/repair go to #
  • Drkovcim - Sunday, January 1, 2017 - link

    Display iPhone SE under the microscope:
  • Maccustomerservice - Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - link

    This is the best review I have ever read on any site.i use this phone, but i have some problem with this device.This device is a little bit slow and I can fix it from mac customer service, you can also visit if you have a problem with your device <a href=" customer support</a>.

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