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After nearly a year of rumors, Apple has finally introduced the 2020 edition of the iPhone SE. The device shares the same design as the iPhone 8, including a 4.7-inch display and a Touch ID home button, but it has a faster A13 Bionic chip and an extra GB of RAM. Most importantly, the new iPhone SE starts at just $399 in the United States.

2020-iphone-se-vs-iphone-xr.png

With the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus now discontinued, the lower end of Apple's smartphone lineup now includes the new iPhone SE and the iPhone XR, released in October 2018. Thinking about upgrading? Read our comparison of the devices below.

Differences

Smaller vs. Larger Display

The new iPhone SE has a 4.7-inch display, while the iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch display.

Both displays are LCDs with 326 pixels per inch, True Tone, 625 nits max brightness, a 1400:1 contrast ratio, and support for the P3 wide color gamut.

A13 Bionic vs. A12 Bionic

The new iPhone SE is powered by the A13 Bionic, which is the same latest-and-greatest chip inside the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. By comparison, the iPhone XR is equipped with the previous-generation A12 Bionic chip.

a13-vs-a12-icons.png

Apple advertises the A13 chip as up to 20 percent faster and up to 30 percent more power efficient than the A12 chip.

Bezels vs. Notch

The new iPhone SE has the same design as the iPhone 8, with thicker bezels above and below the display for the front camera and Touch ID home button. By comparison, the iPhone XR drops the home button and instead has a nearly edge to edge display with a notch at the top for the front camera and Face ID sensors.

Touch ID vs. Face ID

The iPhone SE has a Touch ID home button for fingerprint authentication, while the iPhone XR uses Apple's more advanced Face ID system for facial authentication.

Face ID debuted on the ‌iPhone‌ X in 2017. At the time, Apple said the probability that a random person could unlock someone else's ‌iPhone‌ X was approximately one in 1,000,000, versus one in 50,000 for ‌Touch ID‌. However, both forms of authentication are quite safe, so it really comes down to personal preference.

face-id-vs-touch-id-icons.png

Face ID does not work well with masks, while Touch ID does not work well with wet or sweaty fingers, so neither system is perfect.

Since the new iPhone SE lacks Face ID, it does not support Animoji or Memoji.

Rear Camera

While both the new iPhone SE and the iPhone XR are equipped with a single 12-megapixel wide-angle rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture, the iPhone XR has a newer sensor with 1.4µm pixels and larger Focus Pixels, whereas the iPhone SE has the same sensor as the iPhone 8. However, the new iPhone SE benefits from the A13 chip's improved image signal processor, so the gap between the cameras is likely minimal.

Battery Life

As a physically larger device, the iPhone XR has longer battery life than the new iPhone SE.

Apple says the new iPhone SE can last up to 13 hours for non-streaming video playback and up to 40 hours for audio playback, which is about the same as the iPhone 8. By comparison, Apple says the iPhone XR lasts up to 16 hours for non-streamed video playback and up to 65 hours for audio playback.

Wi-Fi

The new iPhone SE supports Wi-Fi 6, aka 802.11ax, while the iPhone XR supports Wi-Fi 5 or 802.11ac.

Wi-Fi 6 delivers faster speeds, greater network capacity, improved power efficiency, lower latency, and connectivity improvements in areas with several Wi-Fi devices. Wi-Fi 6 devices are also required to support WPA3, the latest Wi-Fi security protocol with improved cryptographic strength.

LTE

The new iPhone SE supports Gigabit-class LTE, potentially allowing for slightly faster LTE speeds compared to the iPhone XR.

Thickness and Weight

The new iPhone SE is 7.3mm thick and weighs 0.3 pounds, while the iPhone XR is slightly thicker and heavier at 8.3mm and 0.4 pounds.

Pricing

The new iPhone SE starts at $399, while the iPhone XR starts at $599, both with 64GB of storage. Both devices are also available with 128GB of storage, but only the iPhone SE has a 256GB option as of now.

For perspective, the iPhone SE with 256GB of storage for $549 is still cheaper than the iPhone XR with 64GB of storage for $599.

Colors

Both the new iPhone SE and iPhone XR come in Black, White, and (RED), and the iPhone XR is also available in Blue, Coral, and Yellow.

Similarities
  • Glass and aluminum design
  • Wireless charging
  • Fast charging with USB-C: up to 50% battery life in 30 minutes
  • IP67-rated water resistance to a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes
  • 4K video recording at up to 60 FPS
  • Lightning connector
  • No headphone jack
  • Dual SIM (nano-SIM and eSIM)
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • VoLTE
  • Dolby Vision and HDR10 support
  • EarPods with Lightning connector in box
Tech Specs Compared
iPhone SE
  • 4.7-inch LCD display
  • 1334×750 resolution and 326 PPI
  • True Tone display
  • Single 12-megapixel rear camera (wide lens)
  • Single 7-megapixel front camera
  • Portrait Mode with Depth Control: humans only
  • Six Portrait Lighting effects
  • Next-gen Smart HDR
  • A13 Bionic chip with third-gen Neural Engine
  • Touch ID
  • Haptic Touch
  • Lightning connector
  • Fast charging capable: up to 50% charge in 30 minutes
  • Qi-based wireless charging
  • IP67-rated water resistance to a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes
  • 64/128/256GB
  • Dual SIM (Nano-SIM and eSIM)
  • Gigabit-class LTE
  • VoLTE
  • 802.11ax Wi‑Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 3GB RAM
  • Similar battery life as iPhone 8
iPhone XR
  • 6.1-inch LCD display
  • 1792×828 resolution and 326 PPI
  • True Tone display
  • Single 12-megapixel rear camera (wide lens)
  • Single 7-megapixel front camera
  • Portrait Mode with Depth Control: humans only
  • Three Portrait Lighting effects
  • Smart HDR
  • A12 Bionic chip with second-gen Neural Engine
  • Face ID
  • Haptic Touch
  • Lightning connector
  • Fast charging capable: up to 50% charge in 30 minutes
  • Qi-based wireless charging
  • IP67-rated water resistance to a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes
  • 64/128GB (256GB discontinued)
  • Dual SIM (Nano-SIM and eSIM)
  • LTE Advanced
  • VoLTE
  • 802.11ac Wi‑Fi 5
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 3GB RAM
  • 1.5 hours longer battery life than iPhone 8 Plus
Bottom Line

If price is the key factor in your upgrade decision, then the new iPhone SE is a very compelling device considering that it has the same A13 Bionic chip as the iPhone 11 Pro despite starting at just $399.

If you are upgrading from an older device like an iPhone 6 or iPhone 7, you will already be familiar with the home button experience on the new iPhone SE, whereas Face ID and gestures on the iPhone X and newer take some time to get used to. And with a 4.7-inch display, the new iPhone SE is also the same size as the iPhone 6, iPhone 7, and iPhone 8.

The new iPhone SE might also receive at least one additional year of iOS updates compared to the iPhone XR given its newer A13 Bionic chip.

Two reasons to choose the iPhone XR over the new iPhone SE would be its larger 6.1-inch display and its modern design with slim bezels, a notch, and Face ID. The new iPhone SE could quite possibly end up being the last iPhone that Apple sells with a home button, so those who choose the new iPhone SE will be settling for an older design.

Article Link: iPhone SE vs. iPhone XR Buyer's Guide
 
Last edited:

Mainsail

macrumors 68000
Sep 19, 2010
1,599
2,036
I use my iPhone XR for navigation when sailing, so the larger screen and longer battery life are pretty compelling advantages for me. Of course, YMMV.
 

GuruZac

macrumors 68000
Sep 9, 2015
1,697
3,568
Depends. If you want a smaller phone, you won’t buy the XR anyway. Either phone has a lot of great features. I would pick the XR for screen size and battery life. The A12 vs A13 is not a huge difference in usable performance. Small size and/or Touch ID go with the SE. Face ID and full screen, go with XR.
 

ouimetnick

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2008
3,270
4,787
Beverly, Massachusetts
Obviously a false comparison. This is designed for people who had an iPhone 8, 7, 6s, etc. People who already bought an XR would be looking for an iPhone 11.

Folks with a iPhone 8, 7, 6s may be looking to upgrade and might end up going with the XR even though it’s been out for a while. This is a great post for those wanting to know.
 

acorntoy

Contributor
May 25, 2010
1,767
1,894
I'm wondering when the tear down is revealed will we find it is using the same LCD display panel as the iPhone 8 that includes the hardware built into the screen for 3D Touch and that is disabled in software for the SE.
I’d be surprised. Physically removing it is a good way to make the panel ever so slightly cheaper.
 

aneftp

macrumors 601
Jul 28, 2007
4,322
507
The game changer for me was the Walmart $199/249 64/128gb deal. Plus i always get the $30 upgrade fee waived. Literally paying $249 plus $15 sales taxes is incredible deal for 128gb iPhone SE 2020.
It will serve has a great backup phone/iPod touch alternative to have around
 

Baff

macrumors regular
Jan 3, 2008
132
177
This article would have been more apropos if you had waited until the new SE was released, and did actual hands on comparison between the two phones. As such, making any recommendation involving a phone that hasn’t been released is illogical.
It would be even more logical to wait 5 years so that they know which one is more reliable in the long run.
 

goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
6,061
3,206
long island NY
I'm wondering when the tear down is revealed will we find it is using the same LCD display panel as the iPhone 8 that includes the hardware built into the screen for 3D Touch and that is disabled in software for the SE.
Lmao, I wouldn’t doubt it. I wonder if a class action can be taken against Apple for intentionally taking features away from 3D Touch devices in iOS 13 to make their new phones look better.
 

thadoggfather

macrumors G5
Oct 1, 2007
13,418
11,701
The game changer for me was the Walmart $199/249 64/128gb deal. Plus i always get the $30 upgrade fee waived. Literally paying $249 plus $15 sales taxes is incredible deal for 128gb iPhone SE 2020.
It will serve has a great backup phone/iPod touch alternative to have around

yeah that Walmart deal made it irresistible and a no brainer. was tempted by shiny new thing, but $249 for a 128gb cant see myself regretting that no matter what I do
 

JPack

macrumors 604
Mar 27, 2017
7,339
12,491
Woah, the SE uses the same sensor as the 8, not the XR?

Apparently so. The size of the lens is the same as iPhone 8. The XR lens is bigger.
[automerge]1587266271[/automerge]
I'm wondering when the tear down is revealed will we find it is using the same LCD display panel as the iPhone 8 that includes the hardware built into the screen for 3D Touch and that is disabled in software for the SE.

No chance. That would lower the yield and increase costs. Third-party display manufacturers have been selling replacement modules without the 3D Touch layer for years to customers who want to save money.
 
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Apple a Day

macrumors member
Jun 25, 2007
45
20
yeah that Walmart deal made it irresistible and a no brainer. was tempted by shiny new thing, but $249 for a 128gb cant see myself regretting that no matter what I do
Am I missing something? Those prices are the upfront prices but you pay the rest in an installment plan. Do people realize this or am I mistaken?
 

thadoggfather

macrumors G5
Oct 1, 2007
13,418
11,701
Am I missing something? Those prices are the upfront prices but you pay the rest in an installment plan. Do people realize this or am I mistaken?

nah it’s just taxes up front on the discounted price (200/250/350 for 64/128/256) and that amount divided by 30 payments. After two months I think it can be paid off in full. It’s effectively $200 off msrp to pay in installments. Doesn’t change plan or anything or enter you in a subsidy contract.

I’m assuming it’s so carriers can somewhat predict post paid revenue streams / revenue stream of monthly payments since most people don’t Pay it off relatively upfront or remember.
It’s a dead deal now as far as I know / sold out
 

MacBH928

Contributor
May 17, 2008
6,249
2,502
I would like to know if you actually feel the difference between iphone SE and iPhone 7, because this is my upgrade path. Last thing I want to do is pay $400 and feel nothing has changed.
 

Apple a Day

macrumors member
Jun 25, 2007
45
20
nah it’s just taxes up front on the discounted price (200/250/350 for 64/128/256) and that amount divided by 30 payments. After two months I think it can be paid off in full. It’s effectively $200 off msrp to pay in installments. Doesn’t change plan or anything or enter you in a subsidy contract.

I’m assuming it’s so carriers can somewhat predict post paid revenue streams / revenue stream of monthly payments since most people don’t Pay it off relatively upfront or remember.
It’s a dead deal now as far as I know / sold out
Thanks for clarifying. You never know with these deals, phone companies are shady, from my experience.
[automerge]1587267982[/automerge]
I would like to know if you actually feel the difference between iphone SE and iPhone 7, because this is my upgrade path. Last thing I want to do is pay $400 and feel nothing has changed.
Good question, I’m wondering the same.
 
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CVUSA

macrumors regular
Jun 15, 2009
193
106
The game changer for me was the Walmart $199/249 64/128gb deal. Plus i always get the $30 upgrade fee waived. Literally paying $249 plus $15 sales taxes is incredible deal for 128gb iPhone SE 2020.
It will serve has a great backup phone/iPod touch alternative to have around
Wonder it apply to att mobile shares line to qualify ?
 
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