iPhone 11 vs iPhone SE (2020) – How Do They Compare?



Should you buy the iPhone SE 2020 or the iPhone 11? Let’s look at the PROS and CONS of both phones from the perspective of 2022…


Neither the iPhone 11 nor the iPhone SE 2020 have 5G. Neither have OLED displays. But they’re now both a lot cheaper than before. And this makes them a great option for anyone looking to save some cash in 2022.

The iPhone 11 is the superior (and more expensive) option. The iPhone SE 2020 is smaller, based on the iPhone 8’s design, and runs on the same chipset as the iPhone 11 which is a big plus for the phone given its low price tag.

Given a choice between the two phones, I would go with the iPhone 11. Even by 2022’s standards, it is a great phone. It works brilliantly and it looks more or less the same as the iPhone 12. If you can live without 5G, the iPhone 11 represents excellent value for money in 2021.

Need something cheaper and smaller? Go with the iPhone SE 2020 – it is now very cheap to buy. You’ll get excellent performance and a compact iPhone with a home button.

The SE’s camera and battery life are nowhere near as good as the iPhone 11’s, however, so if that is important to you, again, go with the iPhone 11 – it’s now very affordable and is just a more complete phone.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone SE 2020 – The Main Differences Explained

Whichever way you slice it, the iPhone 11 is a vastly superior phone to the iPhone SE 2020. The iPhone SE 2020 is now two years old, and counting, is based on the iPhone 8 which is even older and it lacks nearly all of the features you will find inside modern iPhones.

As a cheaper iPhone option, the iPhone SE 2020 does have its merits, though it does lack things like 5G and all-day battery life. For this reason, I would ALWAYS advise those looking for a great deal on an iPhone to go the refurbished route – you can now get the iPhone 11 for around $300/£300.

Beyond this, there are LOADS of additional differences between the two phones. Although the main differences, which I’ll outline below, and the key reasons why the iPhone 11 – especially in 2022 – is a better overall option than the iPhone SE 2020. Let’s expand on this now to illustrate just how different these two phones are…

iPhone 11 vs iPhone SE 2020 – The Main Differences

iPhone 14 Mini
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Design

The iPhone SE 2020 is based on Apple’s iPhone 8. That phone is now ancient and so too is its design. The iPhone SE 2020 comes with a physical home button and it does not have FACE ID. Meanwhile, the iPhone 11 is a modern design. It has FACE ID and a large, 6.1in display. Both phones use LCD panels, however, and not OLED as you get on the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and iPhone 14.

The iPhone SE 2020 is smaller, more compact than the iPhone 11. But this, again, is down to its design. And its small design does bring with it some downsides. Battery life on the iPhone SE 2020, for instance, isn’t great – it’ll just about manage a full day’s worth of usage but only just, while the iPhone 11 will do a solid 24 hours with plenty of juice left in the tank.

If you want a modern-looking iPhone with a modern camera system and excellent battery life, the iPhone 11 is the only option out of these two phones. The iPhone SE 2020 is cheaper and smaller but it runs older hardware in an outdated chassis. It also lacks any real USPs over the iPhone 11. The battery life is also pretty iffy too. All of these things combined do not paint a pretty picture. For long-term happiness, you’ll be far better off with the iPhone 11.

Camera

The iPhone SE 2020 uses the same, low-end camera system as the iPhone 8. This camera was fine when it was considered high-end back in 2017 but things have moved on dramatically since then. The iPhone 11’s 12MP dual-lens camera runs rings around the iPhone SE’s single-lens setup, providing better quality images and video.

With the iPhone 11, you get both Wide and an Ultra-Wide lens inside its main camera array. The iPhone SE 2020 uses a single wide-angle lens. Internally, the sensors used in the iPhone 11 are dramatically improved too – they’re larger and let more light in, so you get better low light performance for both photos and video. The iPhone 11 also has Night Mode, whereas the iPhone SE does not.

There’s just no real way to compare these two camera modules fairly; the iPhone 11’s is a vastly superior stack of technology. The aging camera tech used inside the iPhone SE was fine in 2016 and 2017 but in 2022 it is no longer adequate. For this reason, the iPhone 11 is, once again, the obvious choice here.

Battery Life

The size of a phone often dictates how big its battery is. And the bigger the battery inside your phone, combined with its CPU, the better your battery life. The iPhone 11 runs a larger battery than the iPhone SE 2020. The iPhone 11’s battery is fairly incredibly actually; it will last a solid 24 hours with normal to moderate usage, whereas the iPhone SE 2020 will struggle to make it through a full day of use.

In our tests, the iPhone 11 will last around 18 hours with constant video playback, whereas the iPhone SE 2020 can only do 12-13 hours. This is a pretty big gulf with respect to overall performance and it is something you should definitely consider before buying either of these phones. If the battery is important to you, go with the iPhone 11 – it is far superior to the SE 2020.

Overall Performance

With performance, neither phone is what you’d call a slouch. Both the iPhone 11 and the iPhone SE 2020 run the same A13 CPU. Apple’s A13 CPU was immensely powerful when it first came out, and it will still hold its own in 2022, such is the power of Apple’s market-leading silicon.

Given this similarity, you’d assume that both phones run the same, right? In some cases, this is true – the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE 2020 are both very powerful phones. But the iPhone 11 ships with more RAM, so in most instances, it can and will outperform the iPhone SE 2020. It’s not a massive difference, but there is a marked difference between the two.

Again, if performance is one of your main things – and you want to run the phone for a good few years – you will want to go with the iPhone 11. It has more RAM and this enables better performance in the short, medium, and long term. Both are solid in this regard, but the iPhone 11 does have an edge over the iPhone SE 2020.

Connectivity & 5G

With respect to connectivity and 5G, the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE 2020 are fairly equal – neither support 5G. If you want an iPhone with 5G, you’re going to have to go with either the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, or the iPhone 14 – Apple didn’t add in 5G until the release of the iPhone 12. Post iPhone 12, all of Apple’s iPhones will come with 5G.

Both the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE 2020 come with Wi‑Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, 4G LTE cellular connectivity, and Dual SIM (nano-SIM and eSIM). And both phones will get iOS updates for years to come. Again, if you want 5G, you’re going to have to go with the iPhone 12 – it is now the cheapest option for getting an iPhone with 5G.


iPhone 11 vs iPhone SE (2020) Specs Comparison

iPhone 11 vs iPhone SE
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Design

  • iPhone 11 – The iPhone 11 has a 6.1in display and features Apple’s biometric authentication system called Face ID. Its industrial design features a glass and aluminum body and comes in a wide range of six color options, including a new green model.
  • iPhone SE – The iPhone SE has a 4.7in display and features Apple’s original biometric authentication system called Touch ID, which uses your fingerprint instead of your face to unlock your phone. Its industrial design features a glass and aluminum body and comes in a wide range of three color options.

Winner? iPhone 11 – The iPhone 11 blows the iPhone SE out of the water with its modern design.

MORE: New iPhone SE? Or, A Refurbished iPhone XS for $60 More…

Displays

  • iPhone 11 – The iPhone 11 features an edge-to-edge LCD display that is 6.1in and has a 1792 x 828-pixel resolution at 326ppi.
  • iPhone SE – The iPhone SE features a Retina HD LCD display that is 4.7in and has a 1334 x 750-pixel resolution at 326ppi.

Winner? iPhone 11 – That edge-to-edge display can’t be beaten.

CPU/Processor

  • iPhone 11 – the iPhone 11 features the A13 chipset. This A13 is a 7nm chip with 6 cores, which is absolutely INSANE.
  • iPhone SE – the iPhone SE features the A13 chipset. This is the same one found in the iPhone 11.

Winner? Draw – Both use the exact same A13 SoC.

Camera

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  • iPhone 11 – The iPhone 11 features a 12MP front-facing camera. But on the rear camera you get a dual-lens 12MP rear camera complete with a wide-angle and telephoto lens and dual optical zoom. It also supports advanced photo features like portrait photography.
  • iPhone SE – The iPhone SE features a 7MP front-facing camera. On the rear camera you get a single-lens 12MP camera complete with a wide-angle lens.

Winner? iPhone 11 – That dual-lens puts the single-lens to shame.

Storage Options

  • iPhone 11 – 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB
  • iPhone SE – 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB

MORE: The iPhone SE 2020 is FINALLY Here: Meet Apple’s $399.99 iPhone

Battery Life

  • iPhone 11 – The iPhone 11 Pro’s battery will get you about 18 hours of battery life with mixed usage. It also features wireless charging.
  • iPhone SE – The iPhone SE’s battery will get you about 13 hours of battery life with mixed usage. It also features wireless charging.

Winner? iPhone 11 – You get an extra five hours of battery life.

Price

  • iPhone 11 – The 6.1in iPhone 11 costs $699 (64GB) and $749 (128GB) and $849 (256GB).
  • iPhone SE – The 4.7in iPhone SE costs $399 (64GB) and $449 (128GB) and $549 (256GB).
iPhone 11 vs iPhone SE (2020) – How Do They Compare?
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Verdict?

There’s no doubt about it: the winner in this matchup is the iPhone 11. It features a fantastic dual-lens rear camera system with a 12MP wide-angle and telephoto lenses, optical image stabilization, optical zoom, and 4K video recording. That’s not even to mention the new night photography features.

But from a performance standpoint, the iPhone SE and the iPhone 11 is going to be virtually identical. That’s because they both use the exact same A13 chipset.

Still, the iPhone 11 just offers too many other advantages: an extra five hours of battery life, Face ID, and edge-to-edge gigantic display.

It’s no wonder then that the only thing the iPhone SE can compete on is price, which comes in at $300 cheaper than the iPhone 11. If you’re looking to save some cash, go for the iPhone SE.

But if you’re looking for a phone that has technology that is future-proof for years, go with the iPhone 11 – it can be had for not much money these days too.

MORE: Meet The Most Expensive Phone In The WORLD…

iPhone 11 vs iPhone SE (2020): Specs

Here are the specs for the iPhone 11:

  • Display: 6.1in LCD Liquid Retina display with a 1792 x 828-pixel resolution at 326ppi
  • Dimensions: 150.9mm x 75.7mm x 8.3mm
  • Weight: 194 grams
  • Storage: 64, 128, or 256GB
  • Processors: A13 Bionic chip with third-generation Neural Engine
  • Front camera: 12 MP TrueDepth camera with 4K video recording at up to 60 fps
  • Rear camera: Dual 12MP Ultra Wide and Wide cameras with Night mode; 4K video
  • Battery: Up to 18 hours (video playback)
  • Other: Face ID, NFC, wireless charging, IP68 waterproof (2m)

And here are the specs for the iPhone SE (2020):

  • Display: 4.7in LCD Retina HD display with a 1334 x 750-pixel resolution at 326ppi
  • Dimensions: 138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3mm
  • Weight: 148 grams
  • Storage: 64, 128, or 256GB
  • Processors: A13 Bionic chip with third-generation Neural Engine
  • Front camera: 7MP FaceTime HD camera with 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps, Portrait Mode
  • Rear camera: Single 12MP Wide camera; 4K video, Portrait Mode
  • Battery: Up to 13 hours (video playback)
  • Other: Touch ID, NFC, wireless charging, IP67 waterproof (1m)

Also, be sure to check out our iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11 Pro!

Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
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