Differences of the iPhone SE and iPhone XR beyond the design — 2022

The iPhone SE and iPhone XR are two very different devices at first glance. The first, despite being more current, has a classic design with pronounced frames and a Home button. The other, for its part, has a design with reduced frames and the characteristic Apple 'notch'. However these devices have many More similarities than it seems. That is why in this article we will tell you about them, as well as an in-depth analysis of their differences.

Technical specifications

The visual section is the most subjective for analysis purposes, since everyone has their own opinion. However, there are some data that do not understand perceptions, but are what they are objectively, and that is that the differences between these two devices, without even going fully into what they are capable of offering, are already obvious. see the front of both iPhones. Below you will see a table with the highlights in this regard, although we recommend you continue reading later if you want to know how these functionalities can behave when the truth is told.

iPhone SE iPhone XR



CharacteristiciPhone SE (2nd gen.)iPhone XR
ColorsWhite, black and red.White, black, red, yellow, blue and coral.
DimensionsHeight: 13.84 cm Width: 6.73 cm Thickness: 0.73 cmHeight: 15.09 cm Width: 7.57 cm Depth: 0.83 cm
Weight148 grams.194 grams.
Screen4.7-inch Retina HD (LCD)6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD (LCD)
SpeakersStereo sound.Wide stereo sound.
ProcessorA13 Bionic with 3rd generation Neural Engine.A12 Bionic with 2nd generation Neural Engine.
Ability64 GB, 128 GB or 256 GB.64 GB, 128 GB or 256 GB.
RAM3 GB*.3 GB*.
Battery1,821 mAh*.2,942 mAh*.
Frontal camera7 Mpx with f/2.2 aperture with portrait mode and depth control.7 Mpx with f/2.2 aperture with portrait mode and depth control.
Rear camera12 Mpx wide angle with f / 1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization, x5 digital zoom, portrait mode and depth control.12 Mpx wide angle with f / 1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization, x5 digital zoom, portrait mode and depth control.
connectorsConector Lightning.Conector Lightning.
biometric systemsTouch ID.Face ID.
PriceFrom 489 euros at AppleDiscontinued

*Apple does not usually give official data about the capacity of batteries and RAM, despite the fact that some analysts have specified the data of these. This is because the autonomy and RAM space management of the iPhone is managed differently from Android phones and therefore allows the company to implement a lower capacity, but nevertheless its performance can be equaled and even superior in some cases.

view the table, what are the most important differences? Well, in our opinion, they are the following:

    Colors:Although this aspect is extremely subjective, for objective purposes it should be noted that the iPhone XR is offered in more colors than the 'SE', with the addition of options in blue, coral and yellow. Processor:Despite separating them a single generation, the iPhone SE offers better performance than the iPhone XR thanks to its A13 Bionic chip. Although, as we will see later, the difference in everyday life is not noticeable in excess. Screen:although they share screen technology, they do not share size. The iPhone SE offers a size of 1.4 inches less than the 'XR', to which must be added an obvious lower resolution. Battery:although we will later comment on the differences in practice, objectively the iPhone SE starts out in inferiority by having a considerably lower capacity than the 'XR', which in its day was already the iPhone with the most battery with its release together with the 'XS' . Biometric system:Both work very well, but Touch ID and Face ID have their differences and neither of these share a sensor, with the iPhone SE having the fingerprint sensor and the iPhone XR having the facial recognition sensor.

Aspects to highlight in design

It is evident that the design is one of the first aspects that have to enter our eyes and that on rare occasions we will buy a device that we do not like or that does not resemble what we understand by day-to-day needs. For this reason, we believe that it has an important value when comparing these devices that, at first glance, are very different.

'Retro' iPhone vs. 'Modern' iPhone

We can intuit, not confirm, that a majority of the public prefers the more modern design of the iPhone XR in which the screen gains greater prominence, without a Home button and having smaller bezels and with the presence of the TrueDepth sensor in the 'notch' to unlock the device with the face. However, the iPhone SE also has its appeal by offering a design that, despite being more of a thing of the past, continues to attract a lot with its classic button on the front and pronounced frames that are somewhat better concealed as they are black and do not offer white versions as before, although really, it would be necessary to see if the attractiveness of this design is or is not propitiated by the clear economic difference between the iPhone SE and the rest of the models that Apple sells.

The rear It is also similar in both devices, with minimalism at its maximum expression in which we only find the camera, a small microphone, the flash and the classic Apple logo. Already looking at the sides we find curved edges that are very ergonomic, although in the end this is also down to taste. In addition, these curved edges are shared by the two models, both the iPhone SE and the iPhone XR have been designed under the same pattern, although the thickness of the XR is somewhat more pronounced.

In any of these teams an interesting debate can be opened in this regard, but there are really many more things that are worthy of analyzing from both devices. In a way it can be interesting for those who in this aesthetic sense have no problem and want to know how far these teams can go in performance to decide on the purchase of one or the other. In the end, it is still a subjective aspect although, obviously, it is something that affects the vast majority of users when purchasing or deciding on one of the two.

Similar but not identical IPS screens

Both devices have panels IPS-type LCD . They are far behind in resolutions of the iPhone with OLED panels, but the truth is that they are still very good quality screens with which to enjoy a great day-to-day experience , unless you are a very demanding user or you want very high color precision for photo editing and the like.

iPhone SE 2020 white

The differences may be negligible except for the screen size, 4.7 inches of the SE compared to 6.1 of the XR, but technically they do incorporate differences such as resolution 1,334 x 750 pixels a 326 p/p of the small model before the resolution 1,792 x 828 pixels at 326 ppi. Yes, the differences are few, as we say, but even if it is a slight point, it is favorable to the iPhone XR.

In this sense we can highlight the comfort of the SE to reach all parts of the screen without much difficulty and with one hand, since the size is considerably much smaller and that, obviously, helps a lot that when you have it in your hand , you can use it much more comfortably both with one hand and with two. The XR can also be used depending on the size of the hand, but the truth is that it becomes more complicated. However, if you are a user who often consumes media content such as series, videos and others, the XR will be more practical for having a larger size.

Reliability of Touch ID and Face ID

Footprint or face? This is the fundamental difference between the biometric sensors of both devices. Whether it is the Touch ID fingerprint reader of the Home button that the iPhone SE has or the Face ID facial unlocking of the 'notch' of the iPhone XR, both teams are guaranteed a high reliability and safety in their respective methods. Everything is a matter of tastes and adopted customs, since the way of using one and the other changes in different situations.

The iPhone XR FaceID It has the advantage that it works very quickly in any occasion and even with sunglasses or hats, but if the iPhone is placed at certain angles it will be impossible to unlock it. On surfaces like a table you will have to move your head to be detected or grab the terminal and face it. The iPhone SE Touch ID on the other hand, it can work with different previously configured footprints at a good speed. It is useful even when the device is on a table, but it will not work if your finger is wet or dirty, since it will not be able to identify you.

Face ID y Touch ID

Beyond the personal tastes of each one depending on whether it is more comfortable to use the face or the finger to unlock the device, it is worth noting the reliability in terms of security that both unlocking methods offer the user. In this Apple has always been and is one of the companies that puts more emphasis and work on the table to give the buyers of their devices the best of the best.

Hardware and software: a great combination in both

A phone heavily loaded with specifications is of little use if the software does not accompany it. In the same way it happens in reverse. This is one of the great points in favor that the Cupertino company has always managed to have, and it is that in all its devices we find a great combination between the two and although there is not much difference in this specific case, there are certain details to highlight.

Performance and fluidity

The iPhone SE 2020 and the iPhone XR are based on two different processors, the A13 and A12 respectively. A priori we could think that in this sense the SE is better, and in part it is not bad reasoning because it is true that at a technical level it is superior. However, there are few changes that for practical purposes we notice between the two. Both chips are a year apart, so the comparison makes no big difference.

The positive thing about both devices in this field is that they have a processor capable of performing certain processes thanks to a neural engine, which in fact was introduced for the first time together with the A12. As an example of how this works, we can observe the photographic treatment by software, which allows photographs to be taken in portrait mode and with depth control in both despite having a single camera. Otherwise, we find a excellent fluency to carry out any day-to-day process, so this will not be a point that you have to meditate deeply on, because whichever you choose will give you all the power you need to carry out your usual actions within the iPhone.

iPhone XR

In which of the two lasts longer the battery?

This is often a decisive factor when choosing one terminal or another. Apple gives a series of indicative data In this regard, although they cannot always be equated to real and daily use, they serve as the first to observe the differences between the two:

    Autonomy in video playback:
      iPhone SE:up to 13 hours. iPhone XR:up to 16 hours.
    Autonomy in audio reproduction:
      iPhone SE:up to 40 hours. iPhone XR:up to 65 hours.

As we said, in the end these data are somewhat unreal, since a user does not usually perform only one of these actions and in an uninterrupted manner. Therefore, if we equate them to more normal uses in which multimedia uses, calls, Internet browsing and others are mixed, things would change. Although what will always happen is that the iPhone XR wins the game without discussion.

This is the weakest point of the 'SE', being in fact very criticized for it. It does not mean that it cannot withstand a day of use, but as it becomes more intense, in the end you will have to end up resorting to the charger first. In the 'XR', however, you can last longer and even reach the end of the day without a problem.

Now there is a aspect to take into account for both and it is that in the end the battery will degrade over time. And this is not something that happens only to these, since it happens in all electronic devices made up of lithium batteries. With care of this you can have 2-3 years of operation at full capacity, although eventually this will decrease and autonomy will be reduced.

Same cameras!

When phones like the iPhone 8 were launched, to which the iPhone SE 2020 is the heir, it was practically unthinkable to see features with the portrait mode because the hardware was not ready and the A11 Bionic chip at that time was not up to the task of granting said modality via software. However, the iPhone XR arrived with a single camera and worked the miracle thanks to the A12 Bionic. The same has now happened with the iPhone SE thanks to its A13 Bionic chip. If you look at the comparison table, both are practically the same in photographic and video possibilities.

specsiPhone SE (2nd gen.)iPhone XR
photos front camera-Retina Flash (with screen)
-Smart HDR
-Portrait mode
-Depth Control
-Portrait lighting
-Retina Flash (with screen)
-Smart HDR
-Portrait mode
-Depth Control
-Portrait lighting
Videos front camera-Cinema quality stabilization in 1080p and 720p
-Recording in 1080p at 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-QuickTake Video
-Extended dynamic range for video at 30 frames per second
-Cinema quality stabilization in 1080p and 720p
-Recording in 1080p at 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-Animoji and Memoji
Photos rear cameras-Optical Image Stabilization
-Close-up zoom x5 (digital)
-Flash True Tone with slow sync
-Portrait mode
-Portrait lighting
-Depth Control
-Next generation Smart HDR
-Optical Image Stabilization
-Close-up zoom x5 (digital)
-Flash True Tone with slow sync
-Portrait mode
-Portrait lighting
-Depth Control
-Smart HDR
Videos rear cameras-Recording in 4K at 24, 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-Recording in 1080p at 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-Extended dynamic range up to 30 frames per second
-Close-up zoom x3 (digital)
-QuickTake Video
-Slow motion in 1080p at 120 or 240 frames per second
-Time-Lapse with stabilization
-Stereo recording
-Recording in 4K at 24, 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-Recording in 1080p at 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-Extended dynamic range up to 30 frames per second
-Close-up zoom x3 (digital)
-Slow motion in 1080p at 120 or 240 frames per second
-Time-Lapse with stabilization
-Stereo recording

There are some differences in favor of one and the other. In the case of the 'XR', videos can be made with the already mythical Animoji and Memoji thanks to the TrueDepth sensor of the front camera, while the 'SE' does not have this functionality. The opposite happens with the so-called QuickTake Video, which is simply a function that allows you to hold down the camera button to record video without having to switch to that mode. In the end, for practical purposes the differences are really few and similar results are obtained in both. The photo processing ends up being identical, although also with shortcomings in both cases, such as in portrait mode. In the latter, this type of photography with a bokeh effect cannot be taken of objects or animals, which is not an excessively negative point, but it is something to take into account compared to other smartphones with double or triple cameras.

iPhone photos

In both, some features added in recent generations are missing, such as the ultra wide-angle lens or the already classic telephoto camera that allows optical zoom. We also don't have Night Mode on either for low-light photography. However, we have more than worthy cameras for a large percentage of users who do not require advanced technologies, this being one of the many points why none of these phones is aimed at the most demanding public.

Software updates to bore

Apple has a crucial advantage in iOS over Android and it is the possibility of being able to release updates to all its devices for as many years as possible and in a massive way. This is only achieved by Google with its Pixels in the competition. The fact that an iPhone can have more or fewer updates depends fundamentally on the processor. In these cases we find two very recent chips, so they will be obsolete software at the same time, with a difference of at most a year in favor of the iPhone SE.

iOS iphone security updates

The iPhone 5s has to its credit the honor of having been the longest, having been launched in 2013 and with its latest version available in 2019. Knowing that phones have more and more powerful chips, makes us see that perhaps the record for that 5s may soon be overtaken by teams holding an A12 or later. In any case, the iPhone XR would stop updating in 2023 minimum and the SE in 2024. And in that case it could still be a fully functional device with the update that remains.

Other factors to note

There are other key points that in the end can end up decanting the balance between one device and another. Important aspects to know about both teams, as well as the possibility of finding an alternative to them that resembles them.

Do these iPhones come with a charger and headphones?

Since October 2020, when Apple launched the iPhone 12, the EarPods wired headphones and power adapter were no longer added to the company's entire range of phones. Beyond controversy due to the environmental reasons put forward by Apple when announcing this change, the truth is that if you want to have any of these accessories, you will have to buy them separately, since they only come equipped with a cable.

Of course, there are some stores that still have stock of these phones manufactured before this measure was taken, so if you are lucky you can get hold of them. In any case, they can be purchased separately, either in the Apple Store itself or in other stores, although with their corresponding price because the Californian company does not discount the devices due to the absence of these accessories.

Headphones Charger iPhone 12

Price is a key factor

We have reached a compromised section, since in the end what sometimes weighs more in a purchase decision is money. Depending on your purchasing power, you may find it more convenient to pay the minimum price or pay more and take another. The iPhone XR is already discontinued at Apple from September 2021, although it is possible to find it in other stores for very attractive prices. The iPhone SE can be purchased from 489 euros.

Officially, the iPhone XR has always been more expensive, but if we take into account the stores that offer it cheaper or the temporary offers that appear in places like Amazon, we can see that the difference between the two is considerably reduced as to understand that an XR can compensate more for design and autonomy.

Is there a middle ground between the two?

A device with the size of the iPhone SE, but an 'all-screen' design like the iPhone XR. It's possible? At the time these phones were launched, this possibility did not exist, but today we have the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini. These models have high-end specifications identical to those of their large versions and in a very compact size with a 5.4-inch panel: OLED screen, greater autonomy, state-of-the-art camera set... However, its price is less affordable than these, since it is sold by 809 euros in its version of 64 GB of storage in the case of the '12 mini' and for €689 the base 128 GB version of the '13 mini'.

Due to this factor, the phone tends to be incomparable with these, since it is understood that it is focused on a niche audience that is looking for a compact phone, but without giving up new technologies and without caring so much about the price.

iPhone 12 mini

What could happen in the future and that today are just rumours, is the possibility of seeing a hypothetical iPhone SE Plus , which has been going on for a long time and although at the time of updating this article they place it for 2022, the truth is that talking about it is entering too much into dangerous territory in which the difference between real leaks and wishes is very little.

And which one do you prefer? iPhone SE or iPhone XR? You can leave us your impressions in the comment box.