iPhone SE vs. refurbished iPhone X: A new phone is actually the better value

When the iPhone X first debuted in 2017, it made headlines for a number of causes. It was the primary iPhone to have Face ID, the primary to have an OLED show and the first to have an onscreen notch
. On the time it was a top-of-the-class machine. Now, three years later, it is simply as dependable. Although Apple discontinued the iPhone X a mere 10 months after its launch, the corporate sells refurbished models at a heavy low cost: $599 or £599 for a mannequin with 64GB and $699 or £699 for 256GB. (Apple would not promote or ship refurbished iPhones to Australia, however that converts to about AU$940 and AU$1,100.) 

Whereas this can be a tempting choice for these on the lookout for a less expensive iPhone, Apple additionally launched a brand new iPhone SE this 12 months for $399 (£419, AU$749). In specs and appears the iPhone SE is much like the iPhone 8, which additionally got here out in 2017, but it surely has loads of new benefits of its personal that make it a greater purchase than a refurbished iPhone X from Apple. (We’re additionally expecting to see the iPhone 12 this fall.)

Angela Lang/CNET

Although it would not have a second telephoto lens and its display screen is not as sensible because the iPhone X’s, the smaller iPhone SE nonetheless has just a few upgrades that make it the higher worth purchase than a reduced iPhone X. That features an A13 Bionic processor, dual-SIM capabilities and a handful of digital camera upgrades. (Neither telephone has a headphone jack.) If you happen to’re on the lookout for an reasonably priced, brand-new iPhone with up-to-date help, the iPhone SE must be your go-to.

Read our Apple iPhone SE (2020) review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you happen to personal a working iPhone X, there is no cause to purchase the iPhone SE. However if you happen to’re tempted to buy a refurbished iPhone X from Apple on the discounted worth, I do not suggest it except you simply actually need that second telephoto digital camera for some cause. For one factor, it is doubtless that software program updates from Apple might not be as strong on a 3-year-old machine as on a brand new one. Secondly, if you happen to do need all of the aforementioned iPhone SE upgrades or a much bigger display screen, it is higher to get a brand new iPhone 11, which prices the identical as a refurbished iPhone X.

Read our Apple iPhone X review.

For extra particulars, learn on for a deep dive into how the 2 iPhones stack up.

Design: iPhone X’s larger, sharper show

Regardless of being three years older, the iPhone X nonetheless seems to be trendy and its stainless-steel design comes off as extra premium than the iPhone SE’s aluminum physique. Moreover its apparent display screen notch, the iPhone X can be larger, and has a sharper show with a better decision and pixel density. It has an OLED screen, too, versus the iPhone SE’s LCD show. On the whole, OLED screens are regarded to have higher picture high quality and coloration distinction, however additionally they price extra and may suffer burn-in. The iPhone X’s display screen is notably brighter, particularly at completely different viewing angles, and it is a tad extra vibrant. I have been utilizing an iPhone X for the previous three years and have not seen any burn-in points.


The notch on the iPhone X.

Josh Miller/CNET

The iPhone SE is Apple’s solely new iPhone that has a bodily dwelling button. Some folks could choose that as a result of it is intuitive to make use of and you do not have to make use of swipe gestures to return to the house display screen or name up current apps such as you would on the iPhone X. The house button additionally homes a fingerprint reader for unlocking the telephone and authorizing digital funds by way of Contact ID. For biometric safety, the iPhone X makes use of Face ID, or facial mapping sensors on the front-facing digital camera.

The iPhone X additionally has 3D Touch, an older characteristic that debuted in 2015 on the iPhone 6S. It permits entry to further menu choices and instructions everytime you hard-press your finger towards the display screen. Apple started to section out the characteristic in 2018 with the iPhone XR, and it is now absent from new iPhones. As an alternative, the corporate replaced 3D Touch with Haptic Touch. Haptic Contact is on the iPhone SE and does just about the identical factor, besides as a substitute of getting to press down more durable on the display screen, you long-press on the merchandise.

Each gadgets are rated IP67 for water safety. Each are available black and white however the iPhone SE has a 3rd, purple variant.

Do not dismiss the iPhone SE’s single rear digital camera

For the reason that iPhone X has a telephoto digital camera and the SE would not, it might seem that the X has the higher hand when taking images. In spite of everything, the iPhone X can seize lovely portrait pictures with a blurred bokeh background, and it may well pull off 2x telephoto zoom with out lack of element. It is also acquired digital zoom, which fits as much as 10x for images and 6x for video, zooming in nearer than the iPhone SE (which has 5x digital zoom for images and 3x for video). Lastly, its face-mapping selfie digital camera permits you to use the enjoyable Animoji and Memoji features.

However the iPhone SE can nonetheless seize nice portrait images utilizing its software program, and it has one main benefit that the iPhone X would not: the A13 Bionic processor. Due to this newer chip, the iPhone SE can seize sensible images with its 12-megapixel rear digital camera, which is comparable to the iPhone 11’s camera. This chipset additionally permits Apple so as to add digital camera upgrades underneath the hood that enhance each photograph and video high quality. These embody:

  • Depth Management for taking portrait images and adjusting the bokeh impact
  • Sensible HDR to enhance highlights and shadows
  • Pink-eye correction
  • QuickTake, which helps you to shortly report video with out tapping out of Picture mode
  • Video enhancements: Prolonged dynamic vary for 30 frames per second, cinematic video stabilization as much as 4K (the iPhone X has as much as 1080p) and stereo recording
  • Entrance-facing digital camera: Depth management for Portrait mode, cinematic video stabilization as much as 1080p (the iPhone X has none) and one further Portrait Lighting impact (high-key mono)

On the whole, except you want a telephoto zoom or a extra highly effective digital zoom, the iPhone SE ought to fulfill most of your photographic wants regardless of having just one rear digital camera. For extra on its digital camera high quality, you’ll want to learn CNET’s iPhone SE review.

Processor, battery, twin SIM and reminiscence

The iPhone SE is supplied with Apple’s newest proprietary A13 Bionic chip. The iPhone SE clocked in related outcomes to the iPhone 11 on the benchmark exams 3DMark and Geekbench 5, which is to say that it additionally carried out comparably to — and at occasions higher than — different top-tier telephones such because the Galaxy S20Pixel 4 and OnePlus 8 Pro. And the iPhone SE’s end result for 3DMark’s Ice Storm Limitless take a look at was method larger (at 97,415 in contrast with 62,206) than the iPhone 8, which has the identical A11 processor because the iPhone X.

Apple's A13 processor in the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max

Apple’s A13 processor.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Apple by no means discloses its iPhones’ battery capacities. The corporate does listing the identical 13-hour video playback time for each telephones, although, and places the iPhone X’s audio playback at 60 hours in contrast with the iPhone SE’s 40 hours. Nonetheless, after we ran our personal battery exams of video playback in Airplane mode, the iPhone SE lasted longer than the iPhone X by practically Four hours. (To be extra particular, the iPhone SE lasted about 15.5 hours, whereas the iPhone X lasted 11.45 hours.)

The iPhone SE has choices for a nano-SIM and an e-SIM too, that means you may have two numbers on the identical telephone. Dual-SIM capability can be helpful if you happen to journey so much and wish a telephone overseas, otherwise you wish to consolidate each your private and enterprise telephones. And whereas each telephones can be found with both 64GB or 256GB reminiscence, the brand new iPhone SE has a 3rd, 128GB mannequin. That capability is usually seen because the “candy spot” so far as storage goes. That is as a result of 64GB might not be sufficient to carry all of your images and 4K movies, however 256GB could also be extreme. 

iPhone SE (2020) vs. iPhone X

Apple iPhone SE (2020) iPhone X
Show measurement, decision 4.7-inch Retina HD LCD; 1,334×750 pixels 5.8-inch Tremendous Retina HD OLED; 2,436×1,125 pixels
Pixel density 326ppi 458ppi
Dimensions (inches) 5.45×2.65×0.29 in 5.7×2.79×0.Three in
Dimensions (millimeters) 138.4×67.3×7.3mm 143.6×70.9×7.7mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 5.22 oz; 148g 6.14 oz; 174 g
Cell software program iOS 13 iOS 11 (can replace to iOS 13)
Digital camera 12-megapixel 12-megapixel (commonplace), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Entrance-facing digital camera 7MP 7MP
Video seize 4K 4K
Processor Apple A13 Bionic Apple A11 Bionic
Storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB 64GB, 256GB
RAM Not disclosed Not disclosed
Expandable storage No No
Battery Not disclosed Not disclosed
Fingerprint sensor House button No
Connector Lightning Lightning
Headphone jack No No
Particular options Water resistant (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi charging Water resistant (IP67); wi-fi charging; Face ID; Animoji


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