iPhone SE 2020… Or, Refurbished iPhone XR? Tough Call!

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Apple’s iPhone SE 2020 retails for £419 in the UK, but you can now pick up a refurbished iPhone XR for £439.99 which is only slightly more – so which should you go for?


The iPhone XR is Apple’s best-selling iPhone for the last several years. The handset, which launched alongside the iPhone XS range, was immensely popular with customers on both sides of the Atlantic.

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The XR is now a couple of years old, but it still retains most of its magic. And better yet, you can now pick one up refurbished for only £30 more than Apple’s new iPhone SE 2020 – around £430 for a 64GB model.

iPhone SE 2020 vs iPhone XR – How Do They Compare?

The iPhone XR is based on Apple’s modern iPhone design language which means it does not have a home button, uses FACE ID for unlocking, and has the same gesture-based controls (and overall look and feel) of the companies latest iPhone 11 range.

It also has a larger, 6.1in LCD display; the iPhone SE 2020, by comparison, is tiny with its 4.7in LCD panel. As you probably already know, the iPhone SE 2020 is basically an iPhone 8 redux; only with the SE 2020, you get Apple’s A13 CPU and more RAM (3GB).

iPhone SE 2020 Review
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And this is a MAJOR difference too. The iPhone SE 2020 scored a massive 6,370 in our Geekbench tests, whereas the iPhone XR managed just 2367, meaning the iPhone SE 2020 is orders of magnitude more powerful than the iPhone XR. And that’s all down to Apple’s immensely powerful A13 CPU.

In this context, the iPhone SE 2020 is a very compelling handset. It runs a better CPU than the iPhone XR, has the same camera, and, like the iPhone XR, it too features wireless charging. But it does lack FACE ID and the XR’s larger, more modern styling.

If you want an iPhone with a large display that won’t break the bank, the iPhone XR – or even the iPhone X, which has an OLED panel – is probably your best option right now. And for £439.99, you’re getting A LOT of phone for your money too, as well as Apple’s most modern design language.

iPhone XR Specs:

  • Weight: 194g
  • Dimensions: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm
  • OS: iOS 13
  • Screen size: 6.1-inch
  • Resolution: 1792 x 828
  • CPU: A12 Bionic
  • Storage: 64/128/256
  • Rear camera: 12MP
  • Front camera: 7MP
  • Colors: Blue, White, Black, Yellow, Coral, Red
  • Water Resistance Rating: IP67

iPhone SE 2020 Specs:

  • Weight: 148g
  • Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
  • OS: iOS 13
  • Screen Size: 4.7in
  • Resolution: 750 x 1334 pixels
  • CPU: A13 Bionic
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
  • Rear Camera: 12 MP,
  • Front Camera: 7MP
  • Colors: Black, White, Red
  • Water Resistance Rating: IP67

As you can see, the core specs for both phones – in the area of storage, RAM, and the camera – are remarkably similar. You have more or less exactly the same camera, the same amount of storage options, and a similar amount of RAM.

The major differences between the iPhone SE 2020 and the iPhone XR are as follows:

  • The iPhone XR is larger; it has a 6.1in display versus the iPhone SE 2020’s 4.7in display
  • The iPhone SE 2020 has a vastly superior CPU; Apple’s A13 Bionic CPU is the best on the market by a considerable margin. It wipes the floor with the iPhone XR’s A12 Bionic chip
  • The iPhone SE 2020 does not have FACE ID; instead, it uses TouchID as all iPhones did up to the release of the iPhone X.
  • The iPhone XR uses FACE ID and has a very similar design to Apple’s iPhone 11.
  • The camera setups on both the iPhone XR and iPhone SE 2020 are more or less identical. Apple says it is has tweaked the performance of the SE 2020’s single-lens camera, but for the most part they’re almost certainly identical from a layman’s perspective.

Why You’d Get The iPhone SE 2020

  • You want a smaller iPhone with a super-powered CPU.
  • You want a new iPhone and you don’t want to buy refurbished.
  • You want to buy the iPhone outright.
  • You prefer using TouchID over FACE ID.

Why You’d Get The iPhone XR

  • You want a more modern-looking iPhone.
  • You prefer FACE ID to TouchID.
  • You want plenty of color options.
  • You want a larger display (the iPhone XR’s is 6.1in)
  • You want to buy outright and don’t mind getting one refurbished

Wrapping Up…

I’m not gonna lie, both of these phones are great options for 2020 and beyond. They’ll both get updates well into the late-2020s and, thanks to their high-end hardware, will remain functional for years to come.

The main differences, meaning the stuff you’ll notice, between these two phones relate to their design and their CPUs; the iPhone SE 2020 is a lot smaller but it does use a more potent CPU that delivers faster performance.

iPhone SE 2020 Review
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Having said that, the iPhone XR is still a massively powerful phone; the A12 Bionic is still better and faster than the latest and great CPUs found inside Android phones. In this respect, both phones will not disappoint when it comes to performance.

I guess what it really comes down to here is which phone you like the look of most – do you want a smaller iPhone or a larger, more modern iPhone? Both serve up exceptional value for money, so whichever you go for you’re going to be getting a great phone for way less than the usual cost for getting an iPhone (which is around £699.99)…

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