iPhone SE vs. iPhone 11

If you're looking to get your hands on a new iPhone, two of the newest ones on the market are the iPhone SE and the iPhone 11. These phones offer the latest in processor speed and camera technology, but they vary widely in their hardware and software offerings.

The SE is more of a budget phone, with modern internal hardware packed into the body of an iPhone 8, while the 11 has more of those flashy features you might expect from Apple. Their prices reflect those different techniques, too, as the 11 will cost almost double the SE, and other models are priced even higher.

Let's take a look at what separates these two phones, so you can select which one is right for you.


iphone SE

Apple released the iPhone SE in spring 2020, but it is actually the second generation of the SE. The first one came out several years ago in 2016 with a similar idea. Both phones aim to lower the cost of an entry-level iPhone so more people can get their hands on an Apple device.

One way that many people like to save money is by purchasing an older model of iPhone, but, depending on the age, some of these models don't work very well with the newest software and websites. They may run slowly or experience glitches more frequently, and developers may discontinue support for their apps on old devices. To address these kinds of problems, Apple came out with the SE, which uses much of the same internal hardware as their flagship phones but has stripped-down features and a smaller, more affordable body design. It lowers the price point significantly, but still functions well for modern-day usage and applications.

In 2016, the SE had hardware on par with the iPhone 6S, and now it compares closer to the iPhone 11. Here's what the 2020 iPhone SE has to offer.



Your options for the SE are going to be a bit more limited than those for the iPhone 11. Colors will include the following choices, which all appear more matte than many other iPhones:

  • Red
  • Black
  • White

You'll also find options for 64, 128 and 256 GB storage. Note that 5G support is not an option.



The SE has a notably smaller body at 4.7 inches, as it uses the same glass-and-aluminum design as the iPhone 8. Apple's Retina High Definition (HD) provides crisp images on a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen, and it features a home button — something we haven't seen on an iPhone since the 8. That means it won't have any swipe-up gestures but will have Touch ID.

Screen size isn't the only difference. The iPhone X and subsequent models have adopted an edge-to-edge design, where the screen takes up practically the entire front of the phone. Before that, two black bars sit on the top and bottom of the screen, reducing its aspect ratio to 16:9 and making room for the home button. For comparison, the aspect ratio on newer models is 19:9. The resolution of this screen is a bit on the small side, at 1334x750 pixels, with a typical contrast ratio of 1400:1.

As for the rest of the phone, the glass back offers wireless charging and has a textured finish. Despite its nostalgic body design, the SE still lacks a headphone jack, so you'll need some wireless headphones or an adapter.


The camera on the iPhone SE takes a no-frills approach. It has a single, 12MP camera on the back and a 7MP camera on the front. While this setup isn't complicated, it's worth noting that the main rear camera on the 11 is still just 12MP, so while it has extra lens styles, the resolution isn't any different. Apple's photo software also plays a big part in its beloved camera systems, and the SE is similarly equipped.

The SE has optical image stabilization, portrait mode, portrait lighting, time-lapse videos and 5x digital zoom. That zoom drops to 3x on video. Fortunately, this budget phone has generous options for video recording, as it can do 4K at 24, 30 or 60 frames per second (fps) and slow-mo in full HD at 120 and 240 fps. You can also get cinematic video stabilization on the front camera and an extended dynamic range for videos up to 30 fps.

For the money spent, you still get an excellent camera in the iPhone SE.

Features and Performance

In terms of features, the iPhone SE trails behind a bit, but it does just fine on performance.

Since it doesn't have the additional TrueDepth camera on the front, you won't have Face ID, Animoji or Memoji, which turns your real-time expressions into animated avatars you can share. The SE also isn't as water-resistant as some other iPhones as it has an IP67 rating, which only makes it resistant for up to 30 minutes under 1 meter of water. But it still has many critical features to the Apple experience, including:

  • Haptic touch
  • Portrait mode
  • Apple Pay
  • Wireless charging
  • Fast charging
  • Siri

Performance-wise, the SE is outfitted with the same processor that joins the entire 11 line — the A13 Bionic chip with a third-generation Neural Engine. While you might not be getting the most advanced features, you are getting advanced internal hardware, ensuring that the essential functions of the phone work well and quickly.

Battery life is going to look similar to the iPhone 8, so you could expect about 13 hours of video playback and 40 hours of audio playback.

iPhone 11

The iPhone 11 came out in the fall of 2019 and features a lineup of three phones, including the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. These have been Apple's flagship phones, providing the latest features and hardware. As you move up the line, you'll see an increase in size and cost, as well as a nicer camera and screen technology.


If you opt for the iPhone 11, you get an array of fun color options, though these become a little more limited yet refined in the higher models.

Here are the colors you can get in each model:

  • iPhone 11: Light purple, yellow, seafoam green, black, white and red
  • iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max: Midnight green, silver, space gray and gold

The storage capacity for the 11 Pro and Pro Max allows for 64, 256 and 512GB of storage, while the 11 offers 64, 128 and 256GB.

There are several differences between these tiers, with the Pro Max offering more new features. Moving from the 11 to the Pro nets you a premium build, swapping out the 11's LCD screen and aluminum frame for an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display and a stainless steel frame. It also adds on a triple rear camera and more battery life. The Pro Max offers the largest screen, as well as a better camera and longer battery life.


The 11 lineup is sleek, with the classic iPhone look and rounded edges. The edge-to-edge front screen retains its small notch at the top for the cameras and sensors.

The design of the base 11 is a bit smaller than the other options and features a 6.1-inch LCD screen. The other models get the step-up of an OLED screen and the sturdier frame. Resolution gets a bump from 1792x828 pixels to 2436x1125 pixels in the Pro and 2688x1242 pixels in the Pro Max. The contrast ratio in the OLED screens is also much higher, typically at 2 million:1, compared to the 1,400:1 of the LCD screen.

The weight increases quite a bit between the 11 and the Pro Max, from 6.84 ounces to 7.97 ounces. Otherwise, they look pretty similar.


iPhones are known for having good cameras, and the 11 lineup meets the call.

The base 11 has similar photo software to the Pro and Pro Max, but it lacks a third telephoto lens. Still, it has dual 12MP ultra-wide and wide cameras along with the following features:

  • Optical image stabilization
  • 5x digital zoom
  • Portrait mode
  • Night mode

As you move to the Pro and Pro Max, you'll get dual optical image stabilization as well as 10x digital and 2x optical zoom. Video options remain virtually the same, with 4K recording for 24, 30 and 60 fps, 1080p recording for 30 or 60 fps and slo-mo recording at 1080p for 120 or 240 fps.

If photography is a priority for you, the 11 will serve you much better than an SE.


Being one of the newest models, the iPhone 11 boasts snappy performance, with the same A13 Bionic chip as the SE. It also has a longer battery life — the 11 lasts about an hour longer than an iPhone XR, and the Pro Max lasts about five hours longer than the XS Max. The water resistance also goes up with the move to the Pro Max from 2 meters to 4 meters for 30 minutes.

Overall, the iPhone 11 has excellent performance characteristics, matching the expectations in place for an Apple flagship.

iPhone 11 vs. iPhone SE

The iPhone SE and iPhone 11 are both excellent phones. Having come out within about six months of each other, they feature similar internal hardware. A primary goal of the SE is to offer the Apple experience in a smaller package with fewer bells and whistles. To accomplish that, the A13 Bionic chip provides up-to-date processing power in a less-complex body, so the biggest differences will be in appearance.

That being said, these phones share a lot of features, including:

  • True Tone display
  • Haptic Touch
  • Portrait Mode and lighting
  • The same video recording options
  • QuickTake video
  • Apple Pay
  • Siri
  • Fast charging and wireless charging

As with all Apple devices, there is no 5G support or a MicroSD card slot to expand the storage on either option.

The primary technological differences are subtle, and a lot of casual phone users won't notice or care for them, especially if they aren't accustomed to iPhones. As far as the looks go, you will definitely notice the smaller screen on the SE — which is almost a full 2 inches smaller diagonally than the largest iPhone 11. The differences between the LCD and OLED screens are also significant.

In terms of features, those lacking in the SE are pretty minimal. There is no ultra-wide camera or night mode, and you'll also miss out on Face ID, optical zoom and longer battery life. If those are important to you, they may be worth the extra cost for the 11.

Which IS the Best iPhone: the iPhone SE or the iPhone 11?

Most would say that the iPhone 11 is the objectively better phone. It has more features, longer battery life and a premium build. But, of course, all of those features come with a steep price tag. Not everyone wants to shell out almost $1,000 for a phone, and many don't want to spend that much for something they might lose or break. For those people, the low price point on the SE is a massive selling point — and it's practically the whole point of the phone.

Other reasons you might opt for the SE include its smaller size. A lot of people prefer smaller phones, which could be easier to handle or fit in a pocket. Other users prefer the whopping 6.5-inch screen you can get with the 11 Pro Max and the weightier feel that comes with it. The iPhone 11 also has an edge-to-edge design, which is an important factor in the appearance of it.

Whether you like big phones or small ones, you may need to compare the individual features that you would gain in the 11 lineup against the cost savings in the SE. If cost is your primary focus, the SE is an excellent choice. It currently comes in at $300 less than the base iPhone 11, which is almost double the cost of the SE.

Unless a nicer camera or the larger screen are must-haves for you, the SE can save you quite a bit. If you like to have the latest and greatest, the 11 Pro and Pro Max are excellent options, especially if you're focused on photography. The base 11 is a nice middle ground, offering a decent-sized LCD screen and a dual-camera setup, plus an array of colorful options.

Save on a New iPhone With Gazelle

Whichever phone is right for you, you can save money on it with Gazelle. By buying a used iPhone SE or iPhone 11 device, you can significantly cut down the costs of a new one.

You might find that the iPhone 11 is the phone for you, but its cost is out of your budget. Buying a used iPhone 11 on Gazelle can suddenly bring that phone to a much more affordable price. If you're eyeing the other option, buying a used iPhone SE can save you even more. Plus, you can sell your old device for even more money toward your new one.

Gazelle is a safe, easy and environmentally responsible way to get money for your old device. It eliminates in-person meetups and can give your phone a second life, going to the hands of another user instead of sitting in a landfill. Take a look at our pre-owned iPhones or trade-in your old device today.

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