iPhone SE vs iPhone XR comparison: Which should you buy? (2023)

The low-end of Apple’s iPhone lineup is more robust than ever thanks to this week’s introduction of the iPhone SE and the continued availability of the iPhone XR. The two devices offer very different sets of features, but which should you buy in 2020? Read on for our full comparison.

iPhone SE vs iPhone XR: Design

On the surface, the iPhone SE and iPhone XR are very different. The iPhone SE largely resembles the iPhone 6 series of devices. You get a 4.7-inch display flanked by bezels on the top and bottom, with a Home button for navigation and Touch ID biometric authentication.

Meanwhile, the iPhone XR follows the modern iPhone design trends: much smaller bezels around the edges with a notch at the top with a 6.1-inch display. The notch houses the TrueDepth sensor for Face ID biometric authentication rather than Touch ID.

What about form factor? This is where the design differences really matter. The iPhone SE features a 4.7-inch display and measures in at 5.44-inches tall and 2.64-inches wide. Meanwhile, the iPhone XR features a 6.1-inch display and measures in at 5.94-inches tall and 2.98-inches wide.

What this means is that the iPhone XR will be slightly bigger in your hand, but you also get a significantly larger display. Is the lager form factor worth the larger display? That’s up to you to decide, and many people have firm opinions on their iPhone display size preferences.

Finally, both the iPhone XR and iPhone SE feature the same IP67 rating for water resistance. This means the devices can be submerged at a maximum depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

Best iPhone XR leather cases:

Best iPhone SE cases:

iPhone SE vs iPhone: Display

(Video) iPhone SE (2020) vs iPhone XR - Which Should You Choose?

Speaking of displays, there are some other details to point out when comparing the iPhone SE and iPhone XR screens.

The iPhone XR features an LCD “Liquid Retina HD” display with a 1792×828 pixel resolution at 326 pixels-per-inch. Meanwhile, the iPhone SE features a “Retina HD” display with a 1334×750 pixel resolution, also at 326 pixels-per-inch. Both displays also feature a P3 wide color gamut and 625 nits of max brightness.

Other display features of both the iPhone XR and iPhone SE:

  • LCD Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
  • 1400:1 contrast ratio
  • True Tone display
  • Wide color display (P3)
  • Haptic Touch
  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating

Again, what all of this means is that the iPhone XR will be able to show much more information than the iPhone SE thanks to its larger display. Both displays, however, offer similar features and pixel density, so you can expect the same picture quality no matter which device you choose.

Power and battery life

Looking past the differences in designs and displays, there are also some under-the-hood differences between the iPhone XR and iPhone SE.

The iPhone SE is powered by Apple’s latest A13 Bionic processor. Yes, that’s the same processor Apple uses in the flagship iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. Meanwhile, the iPhone XR features the A12 Bionic processor, which is the same processor used in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Both devices are believed to have 3GB of RAM.

In real-world usage, you can expect similar performance between the iPhone XR and iPhone SE. Both devices should be relatively future-proof and perform more than enough power for day-to-day usage.

In terms of battery life, here are the (admittedly vague) battery statistics provided by Apple for the iPhone XR:

  • Lasts up to 1.5 hours longer than iPhone 8 Plus
  • Talk time (wireless): Up to 25 hours
  • Internet use: Up to 15 hours
  • Video playback (wireless): Up to 16 hours
  • Audio playback (wireless): Up to 65 hours

And here are the (even vaguer) battery statistics for the iPhone SE:

(Video) iPhone SE (2022) Vs iPhone XR! (Comparison) (Review)

  • Lasts about the same as iPhone 8
  • Video playback: Up to 13 hours
  • Video playback (streamed): Up to 8 hours
  • Audio playback: Up to 40 hours

Both devices are capable of fast charging and can add 50% in 30 minutes, but you’ll need to buy an 18W charger separately. Thankfully, you can easily upgrade to an 18W USB-C plug on Amazon for cheap. Both devices are also capable of wireless charging, but again, you’ll need to buy a Qi charger separately.

iPhone XR vs iPhone SE: Camera

The iPhone XR and iPhone SE both feature a single 12MP Wide camera on the back with a front-facing 7MP camera. The technical specifications between the two cameras are very similar:

  • 12MP Wide camera
  • ƒ/1.8 aperture
  • Digital zoom up to 5x
  • Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Six‑element lens
  • LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync
  • Panorama (up to 63MP)
  • Autofocus with Focus Pixels
  • Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
  • Advanced red-eye correction
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Burst mode
  • Photo geotagging
  • Image formats captured: HEIF and JPEG

The iPhone SE offers a few minor features that you won’t get with the iPhone XR:

  • Portrait Lighting with six effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High-Key Mono)
    • The iPhone XR features Portrait Lighting with three effects (Natural, Studio, Contour)
  • Sapphire crystal lens cover
  • Next-generation Smart HDR for photos
    • iPhone XR features Smart HDR for photos, but not “next-generation”

Video recording features are also largely the same between the iPhone SE and iPhone XR:

  • 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
  • 720p HD video recording at 30 fps
  • Extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps
  • Optical image stabilization for video
  • Digital zoom up to 3x
  • LED True Tone flash
  • QuickTake video
  • Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps
  • Time‑lapse video with stabilization
  • Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p)
  • Continuous autofocus video
  • Take 8MP still photos while recording 4K video
  • Playback zoom
  • Video formats recorded: HEVC and H.264
  • Stereo recording

The iPhone SE features two additional capabilities:

  • Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p)
    • iPhone XR only supports cinematic video stabilization at 1080p and 720p
  • QuickTake video

Finally, the front-facing camera is notably different between the iPhone SE and iPhone XR in a few ways. This is due primarily to the fact that the iPhone XR features a TrueDepth sensor for Face ID, which is also used for features like Animoji and Memoji.

iPhone SE front-camera features:

  • 7MP camera
  • ƒ/2.2 aperture
  • Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
  • Portrait Lighting with six effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High-Key Mono)
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps
  • Retina Flash
  • QuickTake video
  • Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
  • Auto HDR for photos
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Burst mode
  • Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p)

iPhone XR front-facing camera features:

  • 7MP camera
  • ƒ/2.2 aperture
  • Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
  • Portrait Lighting with six effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High-Key Mono)
  • Animoji and Memoji
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
  • Smart HDR for photos
  • Extended dynamic range for video at 30 fps
  • Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p)
  • Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
  • Retina Flash
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Burst mode

Ultimately, the iPhone SE and iPhone XR should offer very similar camera performance. The iPhone SE offers a few newer features for the rear-facing camera, while the iPhone XR offers some additional front-facing capabilities thanks to the TrueDepth sensor.

(Video) iPhone XS vs iPhone XR Full Comparison | Should you buy These Budget iPhones .?


The iPhone SE and iPhone XR are the two most affordable iPhone models sold new by Apple. The iPhone SE starts at $399 for 64GB of storage. You can upgrade to 128GB for $449 and to 256GB for $549.

The iPhone XR starts at $599 for 64GB of storage, and you can step up to the 128GB model for $649. Apple does not offer the iPhone XR in any storage configuration larger than 128GB.

iPhone XR colors:

  • White
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Yellow
  • Coral

iPhone SE colors:

  • White
  • Black

iPhone accessories you need

Other than cases, there are a few other things you might want to pick up for your new device, particularly if you’re upgrading from something like the original iPhone SE or iPhone 6.

Wrap up

The iPhone SE packs a powerful punch thanks to its A13 Bionic processor. The camera performance is also stellar thanks to the software support for features like Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting. In terms of design, the iPhone SE harkens back to the iPhone 6 —which was the most popular iPhone for a reason.

Meanwhile, the iPhone XR packs a slightly older A12 Bionic processor, but you get a larger 6.1-inch display and a modern “bezel-less” design. That being said, the larger display doesn’t appeal to everyone, and some might even find the iPhone SE too big.

The iPhone SE and iPhone XR appeal to two very different audiences.

(Video) iPhone Xr vs iPhone SE 2020 in 2021 🔥 iPhone Xr vs iPhone SE 2020 Camera | Battery | Speed |

For example, if you’re upgrading from an iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, or iPhone 8, and you don’t want to learn the new gesture-based navigation system of the iPhone X and newer, then the iPhone SE is your best option. The Home button design and Touch ID authentication will feel familiar to many iPhone users.

But if you want a modern iPhone design, without splurging on the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone XR is your best option. Keep in mind, however, that the iPhone XR only offers up to 128GB of storage, so if you feel like you’ll hit that cap, you might consider the iPhone 11 instead.

And something else that’s important to remember is that both the iPhone XR and iPhone SE will be supported by Apple with regular software updates for the foreseeable future. You can buy either of these phones and use them for many years.

What do you think of Apple’s base iPhone options? Would you recommend the iPhone SE or iPhone XR? Let us know down in the comments!

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

iPhone SE vs iPhone XR comparison: Which should you buy? (7)

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

(Video) iPhone SE (2020) Vs iPhone XR In 2021! (Comparison) (Review)


Is the iPhone XR or Se better? ›

The new iPhone SE might also receive at least one additional year of iOS updates compared to the iPhone XR given its newer A13 Bionic chip. Two reasons to choose the iPhone XR over the new iPhone SE would be its larger 6.1-inch display and its modern design with slim bezels, a notch, and Face ID.

Should you upgrade from a iPhone XR to a iPhone SE? ›

Making the choice. When it comes to upgrading from the iPhone XR to the iPhone SE (2020), it really depends on how much you want Touch ID. Although the A13 Bionic chip is newer and has better performance than the iPhone XR's A12 Bionic chip, it's very unlikely you would notice much difference better them at all.

Is XR worth buying in 2022? ›

Make no mistake: The iPhone XR is still one of the best cheap iPhones you can buy in 2022. It takes everything you love about newer, more premium models — like Face ID, all-screen display, and a great camera — only it's offered at a much more budget-friendly price point.

Is an iPhone SE worth buying in 2022? ›

A Great Upgrade, But Only for Some

The iPhone SE 2022 is an amazing device for the right kind of people. If you're used to the classic, retro iPhone look, and you want a phone that comes with the same oomph as the iPhone 13, this is definitely the phone to get.

Why iPhone XR is the best iPhone? ›

The iPhone XR is equipped with a new 7-nanometer A12 Bionic chip that's faster and more efficient than the A11 in the previous-generation iPhone X. There are two high-performance cores in the A12 that are up to 15 percent faster than the A11 Bionic and four efficiency cores that use up to 50 percent less power.

What is so special about iPhone SE? ›

The iPhone SE is Apple's entry-level iPhone, starting at $429. The device offers an affordable entry point to the iPhone lineup, with many important features such as a powerful A-series chip, a high-quality camera with 4K video recording, Haptic Touch, wireless charging, water and dust resistance, and more.

Is it better to buy iPhone SE or iPhone 11? ›

You want a newer iPhone design

But unlike the SE, the iPhone 11 has a much more screen-dominant appearance, with a notch at the center for Face ID (face unlock) instead of the old Touch ID fingerprint sensor. It's also significantly larger than the SE, with a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display.

Is iPhone XR outdated? ›

The iPhone XR as well as the iPhone 12 Pro with its Max variant were discontinued and removed from Apple's website after the announcement of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro on September 14, 2021, but is still available through third party retailers today.
iPhone XR.
iPhone XR in Blue
First releasedOctober 26, 2018
35 more rows

How long do iPhone XR last? ›

The iPhone XR lasts up to 90 minutes longer than the iPhone 8 Plus. Talk time is up to 25 hours, internet use up to 15 hours, video playback is up to 16 hours, and audio playback is up to 65 hours.

Why does Apple not sell XR anymore? ›

With the launch of the new iPhone 13, ‌iPhone 13‌ mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max, Apple has refined its iPhone lineup and has discontinued the ‌iPhone‌ XR and the iPhone 12 Pro. The ‌iPhone 12‌, ‌iPhone‌ 11, and iPhone SE are still around as lower-cost options, with all models getting a price drop.

Is it good to buy iPhone SE now? ›

Since Apple moved to a bigger screen from 4 inches, there have been no bad iPhones. The iPhone SE 2022 too is a good phone. It is an extremely fast phone with a good -- but small -- screen and a slick design. Its camera system doesn't have many tricks, but it is a capable camera system, particularly in good light.

What iPhone should I buy in 2022? ›

The best iPhones in 2022
  • Best iPhone overall: iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro max, available at Apple, from $999.
  • Best iPhone for battery life: iPhone 14 Plus, available at Apple, from $799.
  • Best value iPhone: iPhone 13, available at Apple, from $599.
  • Best mid-range iPhone: iPhone 12, available at Apple, from $599.
15 Nov 2022

What is the 2022 iPhone SE equivalent to? ›

The iPhone SE (2022) and iPhone 12 are the cheapest iPhones you can buy. The iPhone SE is the least expensive iPhone and it uses the same processor as the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14. But the iPhone 12 is the better phone overall, thanks to its design, screen size, battery life, and cameras.

What iPhone is better than the XR? ›

The chipset has been upgraded to Apple's new A13 bionic processor, and along with 4GB of RAM and a bigger battery, iPhone 11 is a more powerful beast than iPhone XR.

Should I buy XR or 11? ›

Overall winner: Apple iPhone 11

There's a faster processor, a bigger battery, and an extra camera lens, but aside from that, the two phones are almost identical. If you're currently reading this on your iPhone XR, there's no need to upgrade to an iPhone 11.

What iPhones is the se better than? ›

Overall, the ‌iPhone SE‌ is an excellent entry-level ‌iPhone‌ option for just $429. In many respects, the ‌iPhone SE‌ is better than the ‌iPhone‌ 11 since it is a much newer device, featuring a faster and more efficient chip, 5G connectivity, Photographic Styles, Smart HDR 4, and a larger 256GB storage option.

Which is better iPhone or iPhone SE? ›

If you do a lot of reading and TV watching on your phone, the iPhone 11 might be the better choice. The camera is another major consideration. While the iPhone SE gains some benefits from the A15 Bionic processor, the iPhone 11's dual-lens camera has more flexibility when it comes to shooting modes.

Is the SE iPhone old? ›

The iPhone SE was discontinued by Apple on September 12, 2018. The A9 based SE, 6S and 6S Plus, were the only iPhones to be supported through seven major versions of iOS, from iOS 9 to iOS 15. Its successor, the iPhone SE (2020), was announced on April 15, 2020, and released on April 24, 2020.

What iPhone has the best camera quality? ›

The iPhone 13 Pro is not just the latest and great iPhone, it's also the best iPhone for photographers right now. Its triple-lens setup boasts a standard, ultra-wide, and telephoto configuration, with 26mm, 13mm, and 78mm equivalent focal lengths respectively.

What is iPhone SE stand for? ›

iPhone SE stands for 'Special Edition,' not something else.

What does the R in iPhone XR mean? ›

But why iPhone XR is called XR? What R means, anyway? Turns out, the letter R doesn't really mean anything significant for Apple. Phil Schiller, SVP of global marketing for Apple confirmed this in an interview with Engadget.

What phone should I upgrade to from iPhone XR? ›

iPhone Xr vs iPhone 12 Pro Max

Moving from the iPhone XR to the iPhone 12 Pro Max is a dramatic upgrade, one that brings improvements across the board. The iPhone 12 Pro Max features a massive 6.7-inch display, and 20 hours of video playback for unprecedented battery life.

Which iPhone will last the longest? ›

All the latest iPhones ranked for battery life
RankModelBattery life (Hours)
1iPhone 13 Pro Max9hrs 52mins
2iPhone 11 pro Max8hrs 29mins
3iPhone 13 Pro8hr 17Mins
4iPhone 137hr 45mins
7 more rows
30 Jun 2022

How much does the iPhone XR cost in 2022? ›

How much does an iPhone Xr cost? iPhone Xr prices start at $182 and cost $262 on average as of November 2022. iPhone Xr prices will continue to get cheaper over time. Apple phones hold their value well, but prices will continue to drop as time passes and new models are announced.

Is iPhone XR battery life good? ›

The iPhone XR offers nearly 11.5 hours of battery life, which is among the longest lasting phones.

Is iPhone SE discontinued? ›

Apple announced the second-generation iPhone SE on April 15, 2020 coinciding with the discontinuation of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
iPhone SE (2nd generation)
The second-generation iPhone SE in Black
DiscontinuedMarch 8, 2022
PredecessoriPhone SE (1st generation)
SuccessoriPhone SE (3rd generation)
34 more rows

Should I upgrade my iPhone XR to 13? ›

Our Verdict. If you're happy with the iPhone XR, then sticking with it for another year will save you some money during these tricky times and you won't lose out on too much. But, if you're a photographer, budding film-maker, or just want to get a faster device, the iPhone 13 would make a significant upgrade.

What is a good upgrade from iPhone XR? ›

iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD Display, and iPhone 14 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED Display. The iPhone 14 Pro Max also comes with ProMotion technology that allows the screen to refresh up to 120hz for a smooth experience and ramp down to 1hz for the new always-on feature.

Is it worth upgrading to iPhone SE? ›

If you're feeling that your iPhone SE is getting slow, upgrading to the 2022 iPhone SE makes sense. And if you wished the camera or battery life was better, you can also make a good case to upgrade to the new iPhone SE.

Is it worth updating iPhone XR? ›

The bottom line: If you have an iPhone XS, XS Max or XR, it's definitely worth upgrading. You get a noticeable boost in camera quality, battery life and performance among other areas.

How long should the iPhone XR last for? ›

The iPhone XR lasts up to 90 minutes longer than the iPhone 8 Plus. Talk time is up to 25 hours, internet use up to 15 hours, video playback is up to 16 hours, and audio playback is up to 65 hours.

Why is iPhone SE still the best? ›

The iPhone SE 2022 is the fastest phone you can buy under $500 and it delivers great photos from its single rear camera. It's also the best small phone, but there are better affordable options if you want a bigger screen and longer battery life.

What Year Will Apple stop supporting iPhone XR? ›

How long will my iPhone be supported?
ModelRelease dateDiscontinuation date
iPhone XROct 26, 2018Oct 26, 2018
iPhone 11Sep 20, 2019Sep 7, 2022
iPhone 11 Pro / 11 Pro MaxSep 20, 2019Oct 13, 2020
iPhone SE (2nd generation)Apr 24, 2020Mar 8, 2022
24 more rows
30 Sept 2022

Which is the best iPhone? ›

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

While there are eight iPhone models, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the biggest and best model on the market. It comes with every feature Apple offers, including the most capable cameras; the largest, brightest screen; and the biggest, longest-lasting battery.

What does iPhone XR stand for? ›

In an interview to Engadget Schiller explained that the letter do not really stand of anything specific, at least according to Apple officially. However, for Schiller, the iPhone XR and iPhone XS are reference to sports cars where both R and S are used to denoted cars, which are extra special.


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