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iPhone SE vs. iPhone 8: Don’t buy the 3-year-old phone

In a bid to lure budget-minded iPhone followers, the iPhone SE debuted for $399 (£419, AU$749). The iPhone SE’s specs and appears are just like the iPhone 8 from three years in the past, which is probably going the purpose why Apple discontinued its 2017 iPhone when it introduced the iPhone SE.

Read extra: iPhone SE 2020 is proof that Apple will not truly carry again the tiny phone

When it first launched, the iPhone Eight value $699, however the worth lowered to $449 earlier than Apple pulled the plug on it. These days, you’ll be able to nonetheless get the phone from third-party retailers for even much less (Walmart, for instance, is promoting it new for $349 on Straight Talk). But when you’re pondering of shopping for the iPhone Eight over the iPhone SE 2020 at that worth, do not. The iPhone SE might share lots of the iPhone 8’s specs, however for $50 extra you will get extra mileage out of a phone that is not going to be three years outdated out-of-the-box. (And if $399 is totally out of your finances, take into account purchasing for even cheaper telephones.)


Though it shares many key specs, the new iPhone SE nonetheless has a couple of upgrades that make it higher than the iPhone 8. That consists of an A13 Bionic processor, dual-SIM capabilities and a handful of digicam upgrades. (Neither phone has a headphone jack, in case you are questioning.) If you are on the lookout for an reasonably priced new iPhone from a dependable retailer with up-to-date help, the iPhone SE is your finest guess.

iPhone SE 2020.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you have already got a well-functioning iPhone 8, there is not any purpose to replace to a brand new iPhone SE when you may also help it. But when you’re tempted to buy a brand new one, do not. In addition to the iPhone SE 2020 upgrades you will be lacking out on (which I listed above), there’s the probability that software program updates from Apple and buyer help from wherever you buy your iPhone Eight is probably not as sturdy on a 3-year-old machine than on a brand new one. Though it is troublesome to position a tangible financial worth on issues like dependable iOS updates, a strong return coverage and a presumably greater trade-in worth, it is price paying a bit extra for these options. (Speaking of trade-ins, Apple is providing $170 off the iPhone SE when you flip in your iPhone 8.)

Read our Apple iPhone Eight overview.

If you want extra causes, although, let’s stroll by way of each fashions and clarify why the iPhone SE is the smarter buy.

Design: Both iPhones are practically equivalent, however…

Unlike the iPhone SE and the iPhone 11, which look totally different even at a look, the iPhone SE and the iPhone Eight look comparatively the identical. Both have 4.7-inch Retina HD shows (a branding phrases that Apple makes use of to distinguish its show expertise) with the identical decision and pixel density. They even have a bodily residence button that homes a fingerprint reader for unlocking the phone and authorizing digital funds. Both are rated IP67 for water safety too. 


The new iPhone SE seems so much like the iPhone 8.

Angela Lang/CNET

But there are two minor variations about the telephones. One is that the iPhone Eight nonetheless has 3D Touch. The function debuted in 2015 in the iPhone 6S, permitting you to entry further menu choices and instructions by hard-pressing your finger in opposition to the display. Apple started to part out the function in 2018 with the iPhone XR and it is now absent from new iPhones. Instead, the firm changed 3D Touch with Haptic Touch. Haptic Touch is on the iPhone SE and works comparatively the identical manner, besides as an alternative of getting to press down more durable on the display, you will must merely long-press on the merchandise.

Second, the iPhone Eight is available in black, white and gold — however stock is restricted relying on the retailer so you might discover even fewer choices. The iPhone SE, in the meantime, is obtainable now and is available in black, white and pink.

Camera: iPhone SE has some hidden extras

The iPhone SE and iPhone Eight each have a 12-megapixel rear digicam and a 7-megapixel front-facing shooter, with the identical apertures on every (f/1.Eight and f/2.2, respectively). On the floor, it seems as if there is not any distinction between the two telephones’ cameras, however Apple added some helpful digicam upgrades beneath the hood. These embody:

  • Portrait Mode and Depth Control for taking and adjusting bokeh photographs
  • Smart HDR, to enhance highlights and shadows
  • Red-eye correction
  • Quicktake, which helps you to rapidly file video with out tapping out of Photo mode
  • Video enhancements: Extended dynamic vary for 30fps; 3x digital zoom (the iPhone Eight has 2x); cinematic video stabilization for 4K video (the iPhone Eight has it solely as much as 1080p) and stereo recording
  • Front-facing digicam: Portrait mode and cinematic video stabilization as much as 1080p (the iPhone Eight has none)

Altogether, iPhone SE captures higher high quality photographs and video than the iPhone 8, and at occasions takes photographs equally similar to the iPhone 11. For extra on digicam high quality, you should definitely learn CNET’s iPhone SE overview.

Processor, battery, dual-SIM and reminiscence

The iPhone SE is supplied with Apple’s newest proprietary A13 Bionic chip, the identical one which’s inside the iPhone 11 flagship. When we ran processing efficiency speeds on 3DMark and Geekbench 5, the iPhone SE clocked in related outcomes with the iPhone 11, which is to say that the iPhone SE additionally carried out comparably — and at occasions higher than — the Galaxy S20Pixel 4 and the OnePlus 8 Pro. And in comparison with the iPhone 8, the iPhone SE’s end result for 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited check was miles above the iPhone 8’s (97,415 in comparison with the iPhone 8’s 62,206 rating).

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, so when it introduced the iPhone SE, all it mentioned was that it was the identical as the iPhone 8. It additionally listed equivalent wi-fi video and audio playback hours (13 hours and 40 hours, respectively) for each telephones. However, once we ran our battery assessments for video playback on Airplane mode, the iPhone SE lasted longer than the iPhone Eight by practically two hours. (To be extra particular, the iPhone SE lasted about 15.5 hours, whereas the iPhone Eight lasted 13.5 hours.)

In addition, the iPhone SE has choices for a nano-SIM and an e-SIM, which means you’ll be able to handle two phone numbers on the identical phone. Having dual-SIM capabilities is helpful when you journey so much and want a phone overseas, or you’ve two telephones for private and enterprise use and want to mix it in a single machine. Lastly, whereas each telephones have a 64GB and 256GB reminiscence possibility, the new iPhone SE has a 3rd, 128GB mannequin. That capability is often thought of to be the “sweet spot” so far as storage goes. That’s as a result of 64GB is probably not sufficient to carry all of your photographs and 4K movies, 256GB could also be too extravagant. 

iPhone SE 2020 vs. iPhone 8

Apple iPhone SE (2020) iPhone 8
Display dimension, decision 4.7-inch Retina HD; 1,334×750 pixels 4.7-inch Retina HD; 1,334×750 pixels
Pixel density 326ppi 326ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.45×2.65×0.29 in 5.45×2.65×0.29 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 138.4×67.3×7.three mm 138.4×67.3×7.three mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.22 oz; 148g 5.22 oz; 148g
Mobile software program iOS 13 iOS 11 (can replace to iOS 13)
Camera 12-megapixel 12-megapixel
Front-facing digicam 7-megapixel 7-megapixel
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 Home button Home button
Connector Lightning Lightning
Headphone jack No No
Special options Water resistant (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wi-fi charging Water resistant (IP67); wi-fi charging

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