If you’re in the market for a new iPhone, you might be wondering which one to buy. The iPhone SE and the iPhone XR are both great options, but they have some key differences. Here’s a look at how the two phones compare, so you can decide which one is right for you.
iPhone SE vs iPhone XR: Specifications
The iPhone SE has a four-core A9 chip running at 1.8 GHz and 2GB RAM. There’s only one option when it comes to storage – 32GB – but there is a 128GB model available in some countries.
The iPhone XR has the new A12 Bionic chip with six cores rather than four, plus an embedded M12 motion coprocessor that handles specific tasks like scrolling and detecting whether you’re walking or driving. We don’t know the RAM allocation, but Apple claims it’s far faster than the A9 chip in the iPhone SE.
|iPhone SE||iPhone XR|
|Screen size||4.0 inches (101.6 mm)||5.8 inches (147.32mm)|
|Resolution||1,136 x 640 (326ppi)||1,792 x 828 (326ppi)|
|Type||LED-backlit IPS||LCD Liquid Retina HD Display with 3D Touch and Wide Colour Gamut|
|Weight||113 grams||194 grams|
|Dimensions||123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6 mm||150.9 mm x 75.7 mm x 8.3 mm|
|OS||iOS 12||iOS 12|
|Processor||Apple A9 with 64-bit architecture and M9 motion coprocessor||Apple A12 Bionic Chip with Embedded M12 motion coprocessor (64-bit architecture)|
|Storage||32 or 128 GB||64, 256 GB|
|Rear camera||12-megapixel, f/2.2, Focus Pixels||12-megapixel at 1.4 microns and ƒ/1.8|
|Front camera||1.2-megapixel, ƒ/2.4||7-megapixel, ƒ/2.2|
|Video||1080p HD at 30 fps||4K at 24fps|
|Battery life||Approx. 9 hr 20 min||Approx. 11 hr 30 min|
Connectivity-wise there is Touch ID on both devices, plus fast charging – although only with Apple’s USB-C to Lightning cable and 29-watt power supply.
Wireless charging has been around since 2015 (and is in the new iPhones), but Apple hasn’t given its older phones that feature. That rather gives away its intentions for the range.
Apple says the iPhone SE’s battery will last up to 13 hours on a charge when using internet data, while the iPhone XR has two more hours of video playback (14 instead of 12).
iPhone SE vs iPhone XR: Display
- iPhone SE Display: 4.0-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit widescreen Multi‑Touch Retina display, 1136×640 resolution at 326 PPI
- iPhone XR Display: 6.1-inch (diagonal) Liquid Retina HD display, 1792×828 resolution at 326ppi
The displays on the two phones have the same size and resolution, but there are some significant differences in technology. The iPhone XR uses an LCD which should give a brighter image than the TFT screen of the SE. It also supports Apple’s True Tone tech which adjusts color balance according to ambient light conditions.
In short, the iPhone XR should be easier on the eye and better if you’re using it in bright sunlight. That said, the iPhone SE’s screen gets pretty bright and is meant to be tougher than older LCDs. Don’t use that as an excuse for dropping yours with impunity though.
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iPhone SE vs iPhone XR: Camera
The camera specs look similar on paper, but there’s a big difference in the front-facing camera.
- iPhone SE: Rear: 12 MP, f/2.2, autofocus with Focus Pixels, True Tone flash. Front: 1.2 MP, f/2.4 aperture, 720p video recording
- iPhone XR: Rear – 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras with OIS, ƒ/1.8 and ƒ/2.4 apertures respectively, Portrait Mode, Portrait Lighting, Depth Control, Smart HDR, circular polarizer
- Front – 7MP TrueDepth camera with Face ID security system.
The iPhone SE has an older 12-megapixel main rear camera rather than the 12-megapixel telephoto (2x) camera on the XR. It’s also got a lesser digital zoom which reaches 5x after you’ve applied software stabilization to your photos.
However, it has the same True Tone flash with Slow Sync mode, wide color capture, and Live Photos as the iPhone 7 range, so it should still be a very capable snapper.
iPhone SE vs iPhone XR: Price
The iPhone SE starts at £379, making it one of the cheapest ways to get your hands on an Apple smartphone. The more expensive 128GB version costs a wallet-damaging £479.
Apple’s iPhone XR is a little cheaper – it starts at £499 for the 64GB model, although the 128GB version will set you back a further £50. Prices go up to a lofty £899 for 256GB of storage.
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iPhone SE vs iPhone XR: Battery life
- iPhone SE: 1624 mAh battery
- iPhone XR: 2942 mAh battery
Apple doesn’t quote any battery life figures for the iPhone SE, but it puts a 12-hour estimate on talk time and internet usage. That’s about standard for any modern smartphone – particularly an Apple phone.
You’ll get longer use out of the iPhone XR though with Apple giving it an official battery life of 15 hours (talk time) and 12 hours (internet use).
iPhone SE vs iPhone XR: Features
Apart from the obvious change in screen size and type, there are a few other key differences between these two devices.
The iPhone SE has a Touch ID fingerprint scanner, while the iPhone XR uses Apple’s Face ID facial recognition system to verify your identity. It’s also got a slightly older chipset – even though it has been given a speed boost – so you might notice a slight difference in performance.
The XR also has dual SIM support, while the SE does not have this feature. But these are all minor points when you look at how much cheaper the iPhone SE is compared to the iPhone XR. When put like that it’s actually hard to recommend Apple’s flagship phone.
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iPhone SE vs iPhone XR: Performance
The iPhone SE was Apple’s cheapest phone when it launched in 2016, but it still packs a punch for everyday tasks. It has an A9 processor – the same chip used on the 6S model – and 2GB of RAM.
That means you can glide through all your basic functions like web browsing, streaming music, and video playback with ease.
It’s not quite as snappy as the iPhone 7, but it’s still a great phone for everyday tasks. We’d expect much the same story with the iPhone SE vs iPhone XR comparison. It’s got an Apple A12 Bionic processor, which is even faster than its flagship sibling. 3GB of RAM should be more than enough to keep everything running smoothly.
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The bottom line is that if you want a new SE you’ll have to buy second-hand. But plenty of people do, and there’s a reason why the phone is so popular. Apple really hasn’t done enough to boost its specs since it launched in 2015, but you can still get a quality smartphone that fits into your pocket for less than half the cost of an iPhone XS.
The iPhone XR is a lovely phone, but you do have to pay a lot more for it. The SE does everything you need from a smartphone and not much else.
Image Source: Pixabay