iPhone SE vs. Pixel 4A: Camera, design, software, performance and battery compared

This has been an considerable 12 months for wallet-friendly phones with spectacular efficiency and specs. Apple and Google launched smaller variations of their marquee handsets — the iPhone SE and the Pixel 4A are reasonably priced options to the iPhone 11 and Pixel 4, respectively.

Each telephones are $400 or below. The iPhone begins at $399 (£419, AU$749) whereas the Pixel 4A prices $349 (£349, AU$599). Their single 12-megapixel cameras additionally take good images and with iOS 14 and Android 11 coming down the pipeline, their software program guarantees to stay recent and up-to-date.

To see which telephone is the higher match for you, I evaluate them when it comes to digicam, design, software program, efficiency and battery. In brief, the iPhone SE is the quicker, extra polished telephone. However the Pixel 4A’s cheaper price ticket, longer-lasting battery and nimble digicam make it the higher worth purchase.

Angela Lang/CNET

Although it is the most affordable iPhone you may get new, the iPhone SE presents numerous what the premium iPhones even have. That features the highly effective and quick A13 Bionic processor, a waterproof design, wi-fi charging and Wi-Fi 6. Its very good digicam additionally information glorious video. At $400 it is a bit costlier than the Pixel 4A, but it surely’s nonetheless comparatively reasonably priced so far as telephones go, and particularly so far as iPhones go.

Read our Apple iPhone SE (2020) review.

Angela Lang/CNET

This makes extra compromises than the iPhone SE and it has fewer options than its larger brother, the Pixel 4. It does not have wi-fi charging or water-resistance, for example, and it has the much less highly effective Snapdragon 730G processor. However its enduring battery life outlasts the iPhone SE and its distinctive digicam is identical as the primary digicam on the Pixel 4. Lastly, when you think about storage and evaluate the Pixel 4A to the 128GB mannequin of the iPhone SE, the $50 value distinction jumps to $100. 

Read our Google Pixel 4A review.

Digicam: iPhone SE’s superior video vs. Pixel 4A’s improbable Evening Sight

For an entire rundown on how these two telephones fare when it comes to digicam and video, head over to CNET editor Lexy Savvides’ iPhone SE vs. Pixel 4A camera comparison and watch the video under.

In brief, the digicam you want greatest is determined by what sort of images you usually take and what sort of conditions you end up in. In the event you like to seize moments with your folks whereas out and about always of the day, the Pixel 4A and its very good Evening Mode could be the better option. In the event you take tons of video and selfies, go for the iPhone SE. 

I will give Savvides the final phrase: “The Pixel 4A is clearly higher for low-light images and in consequence is stronger total for nonetheless photographs. It additionally has extra choices than the iPhone SE in its default digicam app. The iPhone SE has the sting for video and selfies.”

Design: iPhone SE’s elegant construct outshines Pixel 4A’s sharper show

As they’re making finances variations of their flagship counterparts, it might sense if Apple and Google skimped on just a few design particulars to chop down prices. However the high quality of the iPhone SE’s design is just like present iPhones. Whereas it does have thicker bezels than new iPhones to accommodate the front-facing digicam and bodily dwelling button, the iPhone SE retains the shiny glass encasing and waterproof physique. It additionally is available in three colours: black, white and purple.

The Pixel 4A, then again, does not look as elegant. It solely is available in one colour (black), and moreover its baby-blue energy button, its matte polycarbonate physique appears drab. Its total construct feels cheaper, it is not waterproof and its single digicam bump on the again is far bigger than the iPhone’s rear digicam.

One factor I do like concerning the Pixel 4A’s design, nonetheless, is its OLED display screen. Although each telephones have nice shows which are good for viewing movies and enjoying video games, the Pixel 4A’s show is a tad sharper; it has a 1080p decision (in comparison with the iPhone SE’s 750p decision) and a better pixel density. Its thinner bezels and hole-punch front-facing digicam additionally look extra trendy in comparison with the iPhone SE’s “throwback” look to 2017.

Software program and UI: iOS vs. Android

When evaluating Apple and Google telephones working iOS and Android, respectively, solely you possibly can resolve which OS works greatest for you and what ecosystem you are already snug with. Each telephones have built-in digital search assistants (Siri and Google Assistant), digital fee programs (Apple Pay and Google Pay) and smaller goodies like darkish mode and digital wellbeing instruments to curb screen-viewing time. And extra just lately, Android phones have added their own version of Apple’s AirDrop, which suggests each telephones can switch recordsdata to different telephones (which are on their respective OS platforms) inside a brief distance.

The Pixel 4A has just a few software program options that the iPhone does not have. One is native transcribing capabilities. Along with transcribing audio recordings and captioning movies in actual time, the Pixel 4A can transcribe telephone calls, together with ones made by way of third-party apps equivalent to Fb Messenger. The telephone additionally has Name Display screen, which screens robocalls and telemarketers in addition to crash detection, which mechanically calls preprogrammed emergency contacts when the telephone senses a automobile crash. The upcoming Android 11 update, which is in public beta now, presents built-in display screen recording, chat bubbles for the Message app and fast controls.

The iPhone SE has just a few distinctive software program and UX issues of its personal too. One is a bodily dwelling button, which suggests you needn’t use swiping gestures to navigate across the telephone. Apple’s upcoming iOS 14, which can be suitable with the iPhone SE, guarantees an App Library to prepare apps on the homescreen and a handful of options already acquainted to Android customers together with a built-in translation app, widgets and picture-in-picture.

Efficiency: iPhone’s quicker however Pixel 4A has a longer-lasting battery

Usually, the Pixel 4A and its Snapdragon 730G chipset are quick and dependable. Nonetheless, there have been just a few occasions once I bumped into some small snags. After I downloaded Name of Obligation and PUBG, for instance, I needed to restart the telephone as a result of each apps stalled whereas loading. And each every now and then once I was reviewing the telephone, an app would unexpectedly stop or I needed to relaunch the digicam as a result of the on-screen shutter button would not register.

I by no means observed such hiccups throughout my time with the iPhone SE. As well as, the iPhone SE’s proprietary A13 Bionic comfortably beat the Pixel 4A on all our customary benchmark checks, which embrace 3DMark and Geekbench 5.0. 

3DMark Slingshot Limitless

Be aware:

Longer bars point out higher efficiency

3DMark Ice Storm Limitless

Be aware:

Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Geekbench v.5.Zero single-core

Be aware:

Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Geekbench v.5.Zero multicore

Be aware:

Longer bars point out higher efficiency

On the subject of battery checks for steady video playback on Airplane mode, nonetheless, the Pixel 4A gained that spherical. Even with Google’s Adaptive Battery function turned off, the Pixel 4A outlasted the iPhone SE and averaged 18 hours, 45 minutes, which is a wonderful time. In flip, the iPhone SE clocked in about 15 hours, 45 minutes. That is nonetheless a good time but it surely’s nonetheless three hours shorter than the Pixel 4A. We’re nonetheless present process extra battery checks with streaming video for each telephones and I will replace this piece when these numbers are available in.

Different telephone options to contemplate:

Each telephones have dual-SIM. Along with your common nano-SIM, each telephones use e-SIM expertise that helps a number of telephone numbers. That is helpful should you journey usually, or need to hold two numbers (say your private and work) on the identical machine.

The iPhone SE has Wi-Fi 6. Although Wi-Fi 6 was only certified in September 2019 and routers that includes the next-gen community stay costly, the truth that the iPhone SE has Wi-Fi 6 means it is prepared for the long run. Units with Wi-Fi 6 converse that very same Wi-Fi language to speak to one another. In comparison with Wi-Fi 5, it is quicker and extra battery environment friendly. 


The iPhone SE (left) and the Pixel 4A.

Angela Lang/CNET

Neither telephone has expandable storage. The Pixel 4A has one reminiscence choice: 128GB with 6GB of RAM. That is double the quantity of storage in comparison with final 12 months when the Pixel Four began with solely 64GB. The iPhone SE, in distinction, has three: 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. When strictly evaluating 128GB fashions of each telephones then, the iPhone SE’s value distinction is even larger: The 128GB mannequin of the iPhone SE prices $449 (£469, AU$829) in contrast with the $349 (£349, AU$599) Pixel 4A.

If you would like extra storage, Apple’s iCloud offers you 5GB at no cost and it prices $10 a month for 2TB. Google, then again, permits Pixel customers to add limitless images and video at “excessive” high quality, which is of decrease decision and fewer element than “authentic” high quality. If you would like the latter, you may want to enroll in Google’s One service. Google One is free for the primary 15GB, but additionally prices $10 a month for 2TB.

iPhone SE specs vs. Pixel 4A

Apple iPhone SE (2020) Google Pixel 4A
Show measurement, decision 4.7-inch LCD; 1,334×750 pixels 5.81-inch OLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels
Pixel density 326ppi 443ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.45×2.65×0.29 in 5.7×2.7×0.Three in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 138.4×67.3×7.Three mm 144×69.4×8.2 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.22 oz; 148g 5.04 oz; 143g
Cellular software program iOS 13 Android 10
Digicam 12-megapixel 12.2-megapixel
Entrance-facing digicam 7-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video seize 4K 4K
Processor Apple A13 Bionic Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G
Storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB 128GB
RAM Not disclosed 6GB
Expandable storage No No
Battery Not disclosed, however Apple claims it has the identical battery life as iPhone 8 3,140 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Dwelling button Again
Connector Lightning USB-C
Headphone jack No Sure
Particular options Waterproof (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi charging Twin-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM)
Value off-contract (USD) $399 (64GB), $449 (128GB), $549 (256GB) $349
Value (GBP) £419 (64GB), £469 (128GB), £569 (256GB) £349
Value (AUD) AU$749 (64GB), AU$829 (128GB), AU$999 (256GB) AU$599

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Lynn La