When evaluating telephones, you typically need them to be in the identical league. As of late which may imply there’s a couple of hundred {dollars} separating the fashions—just like the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Professional, or the Galaxy S20+ and the OnePlus Eight Professional—however it’s mainly a waste of time to pit the $1,400 Galaxy S20 Extremely towards the $400 Galaxy A51.

Replace 5//23: Added new checks to the Battery and Charging part.

However Apple’s new iPhone SE is a horse of a special coloration. Sure, it’s Apple’s finances telephone and prices greater than a thousand {dollars} lower than the highest-end Galaxy S20, however it additionally has a bunch of Apple’s newest tech. And, you recognize, it’s an iPhone.

I did the unthinkable and in contrast it to the three of the highest Android telephones obtainable at the moment: Galaxy S20 Extremely ($1,400), Google Pixel 4 ($900) and OnePlus 7T ($600). Add all of it up and also you’ve received $3,000 in Android telephones towards one lowly $399 iPhone. However what ought to have been a ridiculously one-sided battle was surprisingly shut.

iPhone SE vs Android: Design

The iPhone SE seems to be and appears like an older telephone. Just like the iPhone 8, the SE is extraordinarily just like the {hardware} launched with the iPhone 6 in 2014 and you’ll really feel each little bit of its six-year-old design. The display screen is small, the bezels are monstrous, and the house button is bodily. It’s been a very long time since an Android telephone of any reputation had a house button, and the SE seems to be and feels downright antiquated compared to the opposite telephones right here.

iphone se android 6s back Michael Simon/IDG

The iPhone SE (proper) has extraordinarily comparable dimensions to the iPhone 6s.

I’m not going to debate the designs of the opposite telephones, however I’ll say this: Regardless of its historic seems to be, the iPhone SE is an especially enticing telephone with a stable construct high quality and retro attraction. Even Apple’s outdated designs are higher than a few of at the moment’s Android telephones, and the glass again, aluminum sides, and thoroughly curved chamfers are satisfyingly symmetrical and ergonomically nice. The S20 and 7T are positively a step forward within the seems to be division—the Pixel Four is a toss-up—however for a telephone that hasn’t been in type for years, the SE actually isn’t so dangerous.

Granted, its not a telephone for everybody, however those that like or can get previous its outdated Residence button will admire is craftsmanship. The graceful glass again and polished aluminum edges bely its $399 price ticket, and the entire bundle appears like a premium handset. Its bezels are means too huge to compete with the opposite telephones right here, however there’s a sure attraction to the iPhone SE—and it’s good to not have to fret about palm rejection. There’s additionally one thing to be mentioned for a telephone that matches in any pocket.

iPhone SE vs Android: Show

Proper off the bat, the iPhone SE is at an obstacle. Whereas the Android telephones right here all have high-refresh-rate OLED shows, the iPhone SE makes use of an LCD display screen that pales compared to the opposite telephones right here:

Galaxy S20 Extremely: 6.9-inch Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED, 120Hz, 3200×1440, 511 ppi
Pixel Four XL: 6.3-inch Quad HD+ P-OLED, 90Hz, 3040×1440, 537ppi
OnePlus 7T: 6.55-inch Full HD+ AMOLED, 90Hz, 2400×1080, 402ppi
iPhone SE: 4.7-inch HD IPS LCD, 60Hz, 1334×750, 326 ppi

iphone se android lineup Michael Simon/IDG

There’s a 2.2-inch distinction between the iPhone SE’s display screen and the Galaxy S20 Extremely’s.

Apple labels the iPhone SE a Retina HD show relatively than Liquid Retina, however it’s primarily the identical show because the iPhone 11 with sq. corners as a substitute of rounded ones. However for an LCD that’s already a number of years outdated, the iPhone SE’s display screen is surprisingly good. Textual content is crisp and it’s very vivid, rivaling the height handbook brightness I used to be capable of obtain on the opposite shows utilizing the identical all-white picture.

Galaxy S20 Extremely: 610 nits
Pixel Four XL: 745 nits
OnePlus 7T: 870 nits
iPhone SE: 740 nits

Nonetheless, with adaptive brightness turned on and a direct supply of vivid mild utilized, the outcomes have been dramatically completely different.

Galaxy S20 Extremely: 1275 nits
Pixel Four XL: 1075 nits
OnePlus 7T: 1275 nits
iPhone SE: 840 nits

With adaptive brightness turned on, the OLED shows can leverage superior algorithms and better distinction ratio to ship fuller colours and spectacular brightness. They usually’re far superior on the decrease finish too, with extremely deep blacks that put the SE’s LCS to disgrace.

iphone se android stack Michael Simon/IDG

The iPhone is the thinnest telephone right here however not by a lot.

Then there’s the difficulty of measurement. The iPhone SE isn’t simply small for 2020, it seems to be comically small in comparison with the Galaxy S20 Extremely and is greater than an inch and a half smaller than the typical Android flagship. Even the 5.8-inch display screen on the iPhone 11 Professional seems to be monstrous by comparability, and movies and web sites really feel very cramped by comparability. With Apple rumored to be switching to an all-OLED lineup for the iPhone 12, the SE’s LCD goes to shortly change into out of date, however all in all it’s a good show.

iPhone SE vs Android: Efficiency

Fairly frankly, the iPhone SE wouldn’t be value its salt (or evaluating to the telephones right here) if not for its processor. Apple has put the iPhone 11 Professional’s A13 processor contained in the iPhone SE, making it one of many speediest telephones ever made and definitely the quickest for lower than $400.

I picked the three telephones I did as a result of they signify the cream of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon crop. The S20 Extremely makes use of the 865, one of the best system-on-chip obtainable, the OnePlus 7T is powered by the Snapdragon 855+, and the Pixel Four runs the Snapdragon 855. Merely put, you gained’t discover a trio of quicker processors in any Android telephone. However pitted towards the lowly iPhone SE, the three telephones merely can’t stack up:

Geekbench 5 (CPU)

Galaxy S20 Extremely

Single-core: 901
Multi-core: 3245

Pixel Four XL

Single-core: 724
Multi-core: 2529

OnePlus 7T

Single-core: 772
Multi-core: 2883

iPhone SE

Single-core: 1331
Multi-core: 3310

Earlier than you ask, these outcomes are with all the newest patches and updates put in and following recent restarts. I carried out them a number of instances and took one of the best outcomes. In brief, there’s no contest. The iPhone SE not solely handles one of the best Android telephones, it handily beats telephones costing twice and thrice as a lot. And in terms of graphics, the iPhone SE is a beast.

Geekbench 5 (Compute)

Galaxy S20 Extremely: 3085
Pixel Four XL: 2149
OnePlus 7T: 2675
iPhone SE: 6413

That’s to not say any of the telephones listed here are gradual. Removed from it. The Galaxy S20 Extremely and OnePlus 7T each have UFS 3.zero storage together with 12GB and 8GB of RAM, respectively, in comparison with the iPhone SE’s 3GB. The Pixel 4, just like the iPhone SE, has the good thing about being engineered alongside the identical crew that makes the Android working system. However even with these benefits, the iPhone SE is mainly quicker in each means.

geekbench 5 iphone se IDG

The iPhone SE merely trounced one of the best Android telephones in terms of processing speeds and graphics energy.

And should you have been to match the iPhone SE to a $399 Android telephone, the outcomes can be lopsided to the purpose of being absurb. Don’t consider me? Check out the Geekbench 5 scores for the Pixel 3a, which is broadly thought to be one of the best finances Android telephone you should purchase:

Single-core: 351
Multi-core: 1244
Compute: 639

And people are good numbers in comparison with the Exynos-powered Galaxy telephones in that value vary. However truthfully, even when the upcoming Pixel 4a have been to share the identical Snapdragon 855 processor because the Pixel 4, the iPhone SE would nonetheless run circles round it. It is even received Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), which you will solely discover on the S20 right here. Apple might have made sacrifices with the SE’s pace with an A12 chip and even the A10 Fusion that powers the 9.7-inch iPad and nobody would have minded. As a substitute it delivered the quickest telephone you should purchase at a ridiculously inexpensive value.

iPhone SE vs Android: Battery and charging

Granted, the Android telephones I checked out are a lot larger, so they may have larger batteries. Apple doesn’t disclose the battery capability of its telephones, however by means of teardowns it’s been revealed that it has the identical 1,821mAh battery because the iPhone 8. By any metric that’s extremely small, however it’s downright puny compares to the others right here.

Galaxy S20 Extremely: 5,000mAh
Pixel Four XL: 3,700mAh
OnePlus 7T: 3,800mAh

It’s additionally small in comparison with Apple’s different choices. The iPhone XR has a 2,942 mAh battery, the iPhone 11 has a 3,110 mAh battery, the iPhone 11 Professional has a 3,046 mAh battery, and the iPhone 11 Professional Max has a 3,969 mAh battery. And on this case, measurement positively issues. The iPhone SE’s battery life is appropriate in that it’ll most likely get most individuals by means of a day of regular use, however it’s not going to blow anybody away. And should you plan on utilizing it do to a great quantity of streaming or navigation, you’re going to wish to have a charger close by.

iphone se android ports Michael Simon/IDG

For those who’re going to be utilizing the iPhone SE’s Lightning port for charging, you’ll wish to put money into a greater adapter.

In my testing, I performed a two-hour film on the brightest settings with automated brightness turned off after which the identical film with automated brightness turned on. Right here’s how a lot battery life every telephone used:

Galaxy S20 Extremely: 23 %
Pixel Four XL: 35 %
OnePlus 7T: 29 %
iPhone SE: 46 %

Even with far fewer pixels to push, you’ll must fill the SE up way more typically than the opposite telephones right here. When that point arrives, iPhone SE helps wi-fi charging, which is one thing of a rarity for a telephone this low cost. (Living proof: The OnePlus 7T and the newer OnePlus Eight don’t.) Charging speeds are acceptable however the SE continues to be the slowest of this bunch, topping out at 7.5W, half what the Galaxy S20 provides (15W) and slower than the Pixel 4’s 11W max speeds.

For wired charging, the iPhone SE comes with a lame 5W adapter within the field, which is able to take a painfully lengthy two-plus hours to completely cost your iPhone SE. That’s tremendous should you’re plugging it in earlier than bedtime, however should you’re in search of a fast cost earlier than heading out for the night time, you’re going to wish to plan forward.

The entire different telephones help fast-charging out of the field and so they every destroy the SE’s out-of-the-box charging speeds. The OnePlus 7T can attain 30W, the S20 hits 25W, and the Pixel Four will get 18W, however the distinction between them is fairly minimal, with all them filling up between 40-50 % of the battery in a half hour so long as you’re utilizing the charger and cable. In a good battle, the SE truly does OK.

That’s as a result of the iPhone SE does helps 18W quick charging. However you’ll want to purchase a charger able to 18-watt speeds and a USB-C-to-Lightning cable. You should buy each at Apple.com for $48 however you’re higher off checking Amazon for a high-rated third-party choice.

To maintain issues honest, I examined every telephone utilizing a 65W GaN Aukey PD charger with the identical USB-C cable and an Apple USB-C-to-Lightning cable for the iPhone SE. The entire telephones had lower than 40 % energy to make sure that they charged as quick as potential. Right here’s what I noticed utilizing an influence meter for 15 minutes of charging:

Galaxy S20 Extremely: 16% cost, 9V, 15W
OnePlus 7T: 13% cost, 5V, 10W
Pixel Four XL: 24% cost, 9V, 19W
iPhone SE: 28% cost, 9V, 12W

Granted, the iPhone SE is graded on one thing of a curve since its battery is so small, however there’s no denying that these telephones love their proprietary charging methods. With an ordinary charger and cable, which many individuals will use, you’ll get stable charging speeds for all of those telephones, together with the iPhone SE, however nowhere close to the said claims that the OnePlus 7T and S20 boast.

iPhone SE vs Android: Biometrics

The iPhone SE is the one telephone right here (and actually, anyplace) to make use of a bodily fingerprint scanner. I don’t assume Apple is able to making a $399 iPhone with Face ID, so till the following iteration of the SE, it is a tremendous tradeoff. The Pixel Four makes use of 3D face unlock and it’s almost as quick as it’s on the iPhone 11. It’s barely much less handy than a fingerprint sensor in that you want to be trying instantly at your telephone, however it’s safer.

iphone se android button Michael Simon/IDG

Yup, that’s an honest-to-goodness residence button.

Even finances telephones have begun to undertake in-display fingerprint scanners just like the Galaxy S20 Extremely and the OnePlus 7T, so the expertise ought to be mature by now. However whereas in-display scanners look good and allow near-edge-to-edge designs, they’re not almost as quick as bodily fingerprint scanners. My iPhone SE unlocked in a split-second each time I tried it whereas the 2 telephones with in-display sensors typically struggled. As an admittedly unscientific check, I set a stopwatch for a minute and timed what number of instances I might lock and unlock every telephone with he identical finger:

Galaxy S20 Extremely: 29
Pixel Four XL: 33
OnePlus 7T: 28
iPhone SE: 42

Apple’s Contact ID sensor may not be as cool or fairly as an in-display scanner, however bodily scanners are merely superior to digital ones. Yow will discover it with out trying, you don’t have to attend for the display screen to activate, and so they’re extra dependable. The iPhone SE’s bodily scanner may not be fairly, however it’s nonetheless the speediest technique to implement biometric unlocking on a telephone.

iPhone SE vs Android: OS updates

The deserves of iOS versus Android shall be debated without end, so I’ll depart that argument for one more day, However one factor is obvious: You’ll nonetheless be getting updates to your iPhone SE in 2024. And also you’ll most likely have the ability to set up iOS 18 on it too. That Galaxy S20 Extremely persons are spending $1,400 on is fortunate to get Android 12 in two years.

iphone se android size Michael Simon/IDG

The iPhone SE will nonetheless be getting updates lengthy after the S20 is EOL’d.

There’s no contest right here. I’ll admit that Android telephone makers have gotten means higher at pushing updates in a well timed style and speaking to clients what they’re going to be getting, however even one of the best Android telephone within the iPhone SE’s value vary, the Pixel 3a, solely ensures two years of model updates and three years of month-to-month safety updates. And Samsung’s low-cost choices solely get quarterly updates.

iPhone SE vs Android: Digicam

The latest iPhone is all the time at or close to the highest of the smartphone heap in terms of taking photos, however the SE is a brand new iPhone in identify solely. That’s to not say it has a foul digital camera, however it’s  far cry from the multi-camera modules within the iPhone 11 Professional and the Android telephones right here. You’re getting a succesful digital camera, however I don’t assume we’ll be seeing any iPhone SE pics in Apple’s subsequent Shot on iPhone marketing campaign.

iphone se android cameras Michael Simon/IDG

Can one digital camera tackle 9?

The largest hole between the iPhone SE and the opposite telephones right here is with low-light images. Apple made a giant deal of Evening Mode on the iPhone 11, and rightfully so—the iPhone 11’s algorithms do a exceptional job of extending the seize time and amping up the publicity to cut back noise and up the brightness in difficult mild.

With out Evening Mode, the SE struggles like Apple’s telephones used to, and the outcomes are darkish and grainy. They’re satisfactory normally, however in comparison with the telephones right here, particularly the Pixel Four XL, there’s no contest. Evening Mode is the principle factor I miss with the SE, and it’s irritating that Apple left it out, for the reason that digital camera and chip appear to be technically able to dealing with it.

iphone se android photo compare dark Michael Simon/IDG

When the sunshine goes down, the iPhone SE’s deficiencies come out.

Even with a single lens, the iPhone SE can take portraits, however just like the iPhone XR, it solely works with folks. It’s one other bizarre limitation that different single-camera finances telephones don’t have, however the SE takes implausible bokeh pictures of people. Even in comparison with the S20 Extremely, which has 4 cameras together with a devoted depth sensor, the iPhone SE carried out impressively. Within the images under, the iPhone SE dealt with the brilliant background with out a hitch and even did a greater job with my son’s pores and skin tones, notably his rosy cheeks.

iphone se android photo compare portrait Michael Simon/IDG

The iPhone SE (left) is pretty much as good of a portrait taker because the S20 Extremely even with a single digital camera.

The iPhone has all the time had a bent to tamp down the colour in images in favor of real-world accuracy, and the iPhone SE doesn’t stray from that lane. Within the picture under, the OnePlus 7T oversaturated the inexperienced a bit and added a cool tint to the wall whereas the SE maintained coloration accuracy and correct white stability.

iphone se android photo compare color Michael Simon/IDG

The iPhone SE (left) did a greater job than the OnePlus 7T with dealing with the colour on this shot.

The outcomes see considerably subjective, however the SE does its finest to correctly seize the scene. And in the correct mild, it’s pretty much as good of a point-and-shoot as the opposite cameras right here.

iPhone SE vs Android: Conclusion

I can’t think about anybody with a thousand bucks to spend on a brand new smartphone would truly go for an iPhone SE over the iPhone 11 Professional or one of many Android telephones right here, but when they do, they’ll be getting a telephone that’s quicker, extra pocketable, and many able to taking excellent photos. Extra importantly, should you’re on a finances, it’s an especially enticing choice irrespective of which platform flag you fly below.

iphone se android back Michael Simon/IDG

The iPhone SE prices a whole lot lower than the OnePlus 7T, Galaxy S20 Extremely, and Pixel Four XL.

The pace of the iPhone SE is just mind-blowing. With the identical design as my outdated iPhone 6s, I anticipate it to be pokey, however the SE flies by means of duties and apps with ease. I didn’t anticipate it to stack as much as the opposite telephones right here in each class, however its super efficiency is eye-opening and compensates for among the areas the place it falls a bit of quick, particularly the show and battery.

In brief, the compromises Apple made with the SE are good. Sure, it’s an outdated design and lacks among the latest iPhone tech, however it’s a $399 telephone that gained’t really feel sluggish after a 12 months or two or 4, which is greater than you possibly can say for any Android value in that value vary—and even a couple of which might be rather more costly.

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