Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
64,394
32,203


The third-generation iPhone SE and the iPhone 13 are now Apple's most inexpensive iPhone options, starting at $429 and $599, respectively. Apple released the iPhone 13 in late 2021 and has bumped it down in price since then to make it more accessible as new models have been released. On the other hand, the third-generation iPhone SE launched in early 2022, refreshing the most affordable iPhone option in the lineup.

iPhone-SE-vs.-iPhone-13-Buyers-Guide-Feature-2.jpg

With just $170 between them, should you get the smaller entry-level iPhone that still has a Touch ID Home button or the all-screen model that has come down in price over time? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two iPhones is best for you.

iPhone SE (third-generation)iPhone 13
Design of 2017's iPhone 8, featuring rounded edges, a Home button, and large bezels at the top and bottom of the displayDesign based on 2020's iPhone 12, featuring flat sides, diagonally arranged rear cameras, and an edge-to-edge display with a "notch" TrueDepth camera array for Face ID
Glass front and backCeramic Shield front and glass back
4.7-inch Retina HD LCD display6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display
625 nits max brightness (typical)800 nits max brightness (typical) and 1,200 nits peak brightness (HDR)
1400:1 contrast ratio (typical)2,000,000:1 contrast ratio (typical)
Touch IDFace ID
15-hour battery life (during video playback)19-hour battery life (during video playback)
Single rear cameraDual rear cameras with 2x optical zoom range
12-megapixel Main camera with ƒ/1.8 aperture12-megapixel Main camera with ƒ/1.6 aperture
12-megapixel Ultra Wide camera with ƒ/2.4 aperture
Optical image stabilization for videoSensor-shift optical image stabilization for video
Night mode
Cinematic mode for recording videos with shallow depth of field (1080p at 30 fps)
HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 30 fps
Audio zoom
Front-facing 7MP FaceTime HD camera with 1080p HD video recording and Smart HDR 4Front-facing 12MP TrueDepth camera with 4K video recording, Smart HDR 4, slo-mo video support, Animoji, and Memoji
Rated IP67 water-resistant to a depth of one meter for up to 30 minutesRated IP68 water-resistant to a depth of six meters for up to 30 minutes
First-generation ultra wideband chip for spatial awareness
Supports Dolby Atmos audio playback
Compatible with MagSafe cases, wallets, wireless chargers, and more
Available with 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB storageAvailable with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB storage
Midnight, Starlight, and PRODUCT(RED) color optionsGreen, Pink, Blue, Midnight, Starlight, and PRODUCT(RED) color options
Starts at $429Starts at $599


Overall, the iPhone SE remains an excellent entry-level iPhone option for just $429. It contains the A15 Bionic chip, which is still widely available across Apple's lineup of devices and offers more than sufficient performance. With Touch ID, wireless charging, water resistance, a capable rear camera, and the latest version of iOS, it is a great smartphone for those new to the iPhone and have basic needs. Some users value the more traditional design, Home Button, and size of the iPhone SE compared to the iPhone 13, but there is no escaping the fact that the iPhone SE offers an older and more basic iPhone experience with a design dating back to 2014's iPhone 6.

For $170 more, the iPhone 13 offers a decidedly more modern and advanced smartphone experience thanks to a much more modern design and a brighter, OLED display, as well as Face ID, an Ultra Wide camera, Cinematic mode, Night mode, considerably better front-facing and rear cameras, MagSafe, and longer battery life. There is also the benefit of improved water resistance, the ultra wideband chip for Precision Finding with AirTags, and Dolby Atmos audio playback. There are even additional color options to choose from. All of this makes for a significant upgrade over the iPhone SE if you can afford the $170 extra, but it is worth bearing in mind that they are not essential capabilities for many users.

The iPhone SE is an excellent device if your needs or budget are limited, but there is no doubt that the iPhone 13's larger display, more modern and durable design, brighter OLED display, better cameras, longer battery life, and MagSafe compatibility are universally beneficial. In most cases, this is worth the $170 extra if you can afford it.

It is also worth noting that the next-generation iPhone SE, which is not expected to launch until 2025, is expected to be based on the iPhone 13's all-screen design. This means that buying an iPhone 13 is also likely to be a much more future-proof purchase, looking reasonably up to date compared to Apple's other devices in the coming years.

Article Link: iPhone SE vs. iPhone 13 Buyer's Guide: Apple's Cheapest iPhones
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Pinkyyy 💜🍎

icanhazmac

Contributor
Apr 11, 2018
2,663
10,208
Bought an SE (g3) instead of replacing the battery in my 8 and haven't looked back. Personally I don't want anything as large as a Plus or Max and even 6.1" is approaching too large. I also couldn't care less about cameras. We have gotten to the point where devices should be sold as cameras that have phone and app functionality.

The SE/8 format is a true tank, it will be sad when it is gone.
 
Last edited:

manwithashoe

macrumors member
Dec 21, 2018
50
46
I don't think this article takes into account the additional subsidies/offers the SE enjoys over the 13.. meaning the secondhand market is flooded with them.

Here in Japan, you can find a SE3 for about 2/5 of the cost of a 13.
 

Populus

macrumors 603
Aug 24, 2012
5,179
7,524
Spain, Europe
As someone who just bought an iPhone SE 3, I cannot say anything but good things about this little boy.

Sure, if you need a big screen, and you enjoy having a big smartphone between you hands, and prefer the OLED screens, then there’s not much to argue.

But if you like compact smartphones, you are used to the iPhone 8 form factor (like me) and prefer the LCD screens for whatever reason, then the SE3 is an excellent pocket device. The only thing I miss on this phone is a better camera or even an ultra wide, but for me the tradeoff is worth it.
 

swingerofbirch

macrumors 68040
Dual rear cameras with 2x optical zoom range
I don't think this is right. Isn't it ultrawide and wide lens?

Edit: Oh, never mind. I guess it's a 2x difference (the range) between the ultrawide and wide. My mind goes to zooming in 2x from the "regular" (wide) when I read 2x optical zoom.
 
Last edited:

GZR

macrumors regular
Dec 17, 2011
150
142
I'm currently using an SE2 (2020). I was all set to buy a 15 or 15 Pro but I found myself feeling eye strain within 10 minutes of trying them in my local Currys. I will need to investigate further but I may be a PWM sensitive individual, in which case the only upgrade path for me is the SE3 (2022).

This comparison should really include some sort of mention of PWM.
 

Populus

macrumors 603
Aug 24, 2012
5,179
7,524
Spain, Europe
I'm currently using an SE2 (2020). I was all set to buy a 15 or 15 Pro but I found myself feeling eye strain within 10 minutes of trying them in my local Currys. I will need to investigate further but I may be a PWM sensitive individual, in which case the only upgrade path for me is the SE3 (2022).

This comparison should really include some sort of mention of PWM.
That’s what I did. I tried to use the 13 mini several times, and I always had to return it because of the uncomfortable screen. Few weeks ago I tried to purchase another one to give it a last chance before they become unavailable at the Apple Store… but suddenly I decided to go for an SE3, and trust me, I haven’t looked back.
 

ducknalddon

macrumors 6502
Aug 31, 2018
302
520
I think the thing that would put me off buying a 13 now is you are already two years into its life cycle. I like to keep my phones for a long time so if I want to avoid a lack of updates then I need to buy something current.
 

bigboy29

macrumors 6502
May 19, 2016
425
792
I do like the SE series but wow, once you go FaceID, I just don't know I could ever go back. I hate PINs on screen with passion and FaceID makes it so I basically never have to enter this, unlike TouchID which is just not as reliable (too dry fingers, wet fingers, chalky fingers after rock climbing etc.)
 
  • Like
Reactions: viktorhun

Fuzzball84

macrumors 68020
Apr 19, 2015
2,429
5,629
The iPhone SE just isn't a great proposition. Had they kept the iPhone 13 mini and rebranded it iPhone SE.. maybe with a few small updates...value proposition would be much higher.

I'll be holding onto my mini for the next few years and if there isn't a similar sized phone from Apple that has decent features... I'll try non-Apple alternatives.

After they stopped making the retina MacBooks... I got a Surface Laptop Go 2 as an alternative... Sometimes even my MacBook Air is too much to lug around.. and an iPad just doesn't allow me the same productivity as a laptop.
 

du57in

macrumors regular
Sep 7, 2022
108
182
As someone who has the current generation iPhone SE I can safely say do not buy it. More and more apps are no longer programmed to the smaller screen resulting in inputs/information becoming unreachable beyond the lower portion of the screen.
Can you provide some examples or better yet screen shots of this? I only stopped using an SE 2020 in March and while I agree that most things are designed with larger phones in mind, I never found anything that didn't work.

Of interesting note, though the display is smaller, video apps like Instagram reels show more of a video on an SE while the XR and 13 Mini cuts them off to fit the funky screen dimensions.
 

TheNewLou

macrumors regular
May 24, 2016
140
242
Can you provide some examples or better yet screen shots of this? I only stopped using an SE 2020 in March and while I agree that most things are designed with larger phones in mind, I never found anything that didn't work.
I've seen websites(!!!) that don't allow you to scroll to the bottom on an SE, but never an app. Would that get through App Store review?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pinkyyy 💜🍎

sw1tcher

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
5,603
19,843
The third-generation iPhone SE and the iPhone 13 are now Apple's most inexpensive iPhone options, starting at $429 and $599, respectively
I don't think this article takes into account the additional subsidies/offers the SE enjoys over the 13.. meaning the secondhand market is flooded with them.

Here in Japan, you can find a SE3 for about 2/5 of the cost of a 13.
There are even huge subsidies on the SE 3 brand new.

In the U.S., you can buy a brand new iPhone SE 3 from Walmart, Total by Verizon, etc for $149.99. It'll be locked to the Verizon network for 60 days, but after that, you can use it with any service provider. A lot of people are only paying for 1 month of service (as little as $10) to get the SE 3 activated and the unlock timer going and then taking it to AT&T or T-Mobile.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.