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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

iPhone XR vs iPhone SE – which should you buy?

The iPhone SE and iPhone XR are both excellent phones for those on a budget. From the design and specs to the cameras, colors and special features, here’s how the iPhone SE and iPhone XR stack up against each other.

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The iPhone XR is no-longer the core ‘affordable’ option in Apple’s smartphone line-up, but that’s not to say the handset is past its prime. With the new iPhone SE crowned as the firm’s ‘affordable’ choice; many are still lost in the debate – iPhone XR vs iPhone SE.

The iPhone XR does one-up the iPhone SE in terms of design however, as it keeps the all-screen display and Face ID notch. Whereas the SE reverts to the older iPhone style; it houses chunky bezels above and below the display, a home key and Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

Announced on September 12, 2018, the iPhone XR launch price started at $749 for the 64GB model. However, with the the arrival of the iPhone 11, the iPhone XR price has now dropped to $599 for the same model.

iPhone SE vs iPhone XR

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.

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

Read more: iOS 13.5 – The first COVID-19 friendly software update

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 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.

Read more: Motorola Edge Plus- finally a good enough release by Motorola?

Rear Camera

In terms of specs, the iPhone SE and iPhone XR are equals in the camera department, but they’re not identical overall. Both phones feature a 12MP main wide camera with an f/1.8 aperture and a 7MP TrueDepth camera up front with an f/2.2 aperture.

In addition, both the iPhone SE and iPhone XR are capable of capturing portraits with both the front and rear cameras. you can also adjust the Depth Control, depending on how much of a bokeh effect you want. However, while the iPhone XR is limited to three Portrait Lighting effects, the iPhone SE ups that to six, including Stage Light, Stage Light Mono and High-Key Light Mono.

The iPhone SE also also benefits from the image signal processor that’s unique to the A13 Bionic chip inside that phone. For example, you get a Smart HDR feature that’s smart enough to recognize people and deliver better highlights to faces.

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.


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 also need to support WPA3 – the latest Wi-Fi security protocol with improved cryptographic strength.


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.


So, what do you think wins the debate of iPhone XR vs iPhone SE? If price is the key factor in your upgrade decision, then the new iPhone SE is a very compelling device; that is, considering its A13 Bionic chip (like in iPhone 11 Pro) despite starting at just $399.

Upgrading from a device like iPhone 6 or iPhone 7, keeps you familiar with the home button experience on the new iPhone SE. However, Face ID and gestures on the iPhone X and newer take some time to get used to. The new iPhone SE is also the same size as the iPhone 6, iPhone 7, and iPhone 8.

These are a few of many arguments why the iPhone SE reigns as the new affordable champion.