The iPhone SE offers many things for the money, but a powerful portrait mode isn’t one of them. Much like the iPhone XR, you’re stuck taking portrait photos of people if you use the default camera app — a problem at a time when you’re supposed to avoid most human contact. You won’t have to settle for plain shots if you’re willing to get third-party tools, though. Halide (which also rescued the iPhone XR) has updated its flagship Camera app and Spectre long-exposure app to enable portrait mode shots for all objects, not just humans. If you want bokeh for your pet shots and flower close-ups, it should be all you need.
The Halide Camera and Spectre apps cost $6 and $3 respectively. That’s a bargain compared to dropping the $300 extra it would take to get an iPhone 11 with native portrait shots, though, and it throws in a range of manual controls and features you won’t get out of the box with any iPhone. Think of this as a way to take mobile photography seriously without splurging on a higher-end device.