iPhone SE (2022) vs iPhone 11: Comparing Apple’s Cheapest iPhones


Image: Apple

The iPhone SE is Apple’s latest miniature handset, priced for potential users on a budget. Starting at $429, the 5G-enabled, A15 Bionic-powered handset is Apple’s most affordable iPhone yet. But at only $70 more, it’s the oldest, but bigger, iPhone 11 – also available for purchase through the Apple Store.

Whether you’re considering a new iPhone for a family member, loved one, or yourself, there’s no doubt that iPhone SE and iPhone 11 deliver exceptional value mobile experiences. To help you decide which of the two smartphones under $500 you should spend your hard-earned money on, we’ve compared the design, performance, cameras and overall value of the two below.


iPhone SE (2022)

iPhone 11


4.7 inch HD retina

6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD


144 grams

194 grams


TouchID (fingerprint unlock)

FaceID (face unlock)


Midnight, Starlight, Red Product

purple, yellow, green, black, white, product red


Single 12-megapixel camera

Two 12-megapixel cameras

IP Rating

IP67 (one meter deep for 30 minutes)

IP68 (two meters deep for 30 minutes)

One of the main crossroads you’ll encounter when choosing between iPhone SE (2022) and iPhone 11 is design. While the first was released in early 2022, its hardware is virtually indistinguishable from the iPhone SE (2020)which shared the same design as the iPhone 8 from 2017. That’s not to say that this year’s iteration falls short on the performance side. Don’t expect the nearly bezel-less silhouette that modern iPhones have adopted, and instead look forward to the nostalgia of 4.7-inch iPhones with physical home buttons.

Likewise, the iPhone 11 features a recycled design from its predecessor, the iPhone XR. (Apple clearly likes to recycle things.) But unlike the SE, the iPhone 11 has a much more screen-dominant appearance, with a notch in the center for FaceID (face unlock) instead of the old, reliable sensor. ‘fingerprints. It’s also significantly larger than the SE, with a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display. For entertainment enthusiasts who want the best viewing experience, the larger iPhone may be more useful than the SE.

After: Best iPhones


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Both iPhones feature a 12-megapixel wide camera on the back, but the 11 takes it a step further by adding a 12MP ultra-wide lens for those head-turning landscape shots. How both actually work will be detailed in the camera section later.

The iPhone SE sports an IP67 rating, which certifies it to be waterproof up to one meter deep for 30 minutes. Comparatively, the iPhone 11 has an IP68 rating, protecting it from swimming up to two meters deep at the same time. Both devices should hold up in the rain or shine in the grand scheme of things.

In terms of color options, the iPhone SE is available in Midnight (black), Starlight (white), and Product Red. The iPhone 11 can be purchased in purple, yellow, green, black, white, and product red, although availability will vary given that it’s a three-year-old device.

Putting iPhones side by side, the design alone may be enough to make you switch to each other. The iPhone 11 is the phone of choice for a more modern feel and finish. But if you yearn for the familiar, compact and reliable design of the iPhone 8, then the SE won’t hurt you.


iPhone SE (2022)

iPhone 11


A15 Bionic (6 cores)

A13 Bionic (6 cores)





64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB

64 GB, 128 GB


5G (sub-6GHz)



Up to 15 hours of video playback

Up to 17 hours of video playback

For how much smaller and cheaper it is, the iPhone SE packs enough firepower to rival that of Apple’s flagship products. This is largely due to the A15 Bionic chip – the same processor found in the iPhone 13 Pro — under the hood. When ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani compared the iPhone SEit scored 1,731 and 4,316 in single-core and multi-core tests, respectively, doubling that of Google’s top-end. Pixel 6 Pro. From a real world perspective, this basically means the iPhone SE can run apps and games, and multitask with little to no stuttering.

Apple March 8 iPhone SE same glass as iPhone 13

The iPhone SE (2022) brings back the physical home button.

Image: Apple

Yet the iPhone 11 follows closely behind, its A13 Bionic processor being equally reliable for social media browsing, movie streaming and 4K video capture. The older iPhone also comes with 4GB of RAM, and running on the same versions of iOS, all the software benefits of one iPhone are still present on the other. It should be noted, however, that Apple typically honors between five and seven years of software updates. Given the three-year gap between the 11 and the new SE, you can expect the latter to receive longer support if purchased today.

Towards 5G or not towards 5G? You will have to answer another question to choose between the two iPhones. To simplify the process, the new iPhone SE only supports sub-6 GHz, not the considerably faster mmWave 5G. So not only is the networking speed difference less noticeable, you’ll need to upgrade to a 5G data plan with your carrier of choice to take full advantage of fifth-generation technology.

Both iPhones start at 64GB storage sizes, expandable to 128GB for an additional $50. The iPhone SE goes one step further by offering a 256GB variant for those looking for the extra space. In an ideal world, 128GB would be the base configuration for all iPhones, but if your budget is tight, there are plenty of free, high-quality cloud services worth considering.

Apple claims that the new iPhone SE can provide an additional two hours of usage over its predecessor. From our tests and Full review, the SE got “over 3 hours of screen time on a typical day” before needing a charge. As ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani points out, “If you consider yourself a power user, you’ll likely find the iPhone SE’s battery life to be lacking.”

The same can’t be said for the iPhone 11, which garnered nearly five hours of screen time when we first tested the device. While Apple remains secretive about battery capacities, it wouldn’t be surprising to find a larger size housed in the iPhone 11 than the SE. The 11 is the clear winner if battery life and endurance are one of your top priorities.


For casual and professional use, the iPhone SE and iPhone 11 do an exceptional job of capturing photos and videos day or night. The same 12MP wide lens sits on the back of both devices and enables 4K video recording, optical image stabilization and all of Apple’s compute modules including Deep Fusion, Smart HDR and Night. Fashion.

The biggest difference comes in the form of the iPhone 11’s 12MP ultra-wide lens. With a 120-degree field of view, the iPhone 11 can capture a wider range of subjects and provide more context than the default camera. The ultra-wide lens also allows for macro photography – or close-ups – thanks to the smaller focal length. In general, the iPhone 11 offers more flexibility with your photo and video taking.


James Martin/CNET

On the camera front (literally), the iPhone SE houses a 7MP FaceTime camera for selfies and 1080p video, but nothing more. The front camera does not support FaceID and therefore cannot be used to create Animojis, Memojis and other face-related features. Like many of its other hardware limitations, this is mainly due to the SE using the older iPhone 8 design.

Relatively speaking, the iPhone 11 has a 12MP TrueDepth camera for sharper video recording up to 4K, FaceID, and the same picture capabilities as the SE. It also supports Apple’s slow-motion selfies, or “slofies,” for what that’s worth.

After: iOS 15.4 lets you use FaceID with a mask

Generally, you can’t go wrong with either camera system, but if you spend a lot of time capturing photos and videos with your smartphone, the iPhone 11 might be the better of the two. Not only does it give you more flexibility with your shots, it has a longer battery life to keep the camera going.


While the iPhone 11 debuted with a price tag of $699, the phone has since dropped to only $499 on the Apple store. That puts it within easy reach of the new iPhone SE, which from $429.

The iPhone 11 is the best buy if you want a big-screen phone, reliable battery life, an uncompromising camera system, and can live without 5G. The iPhone SE gets our recommendation for users looking for a compact smartphone that doesn’t limit performance and speed. It’s also a future-proof investment that should do well five or six years down the road.

Alternatives to consider

If you’re open to other smartphone leads, consider these ZDNet-tested deals:

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