The third-generation iPhone SE and the iPhone 11 are Apple’s lowest-cost iPhone options, starting at $429 and $499 respectively. Apple released the iPhone 11 in late 2019, and has bumped it down in price since then to make it more accessible as new iPhone models have been released. On the other hand, the third-generation iPhone SE launched in early 2022, refreshing the most affordable iPhone option in the lineup.
With just $70 between them, should you get the new, smaller, entry-level iPhone or the older, larger, standard model that has come down in price over the years? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two iPhones is best for you.
Comparing the iPhone SE 3 and the iPhone 11
The third-generation iPhone SE and iPhone 11 share a number of features, such as a Retina HD LCD display, a 12MP rear camera, a polished glass back, and Qi wireless charging. Apple lists these identical features of the iPhone SE and iPhone 11:
- Retina HD LCD display with 326 ppi, IPS technology, True Tone, P3 Wide Color, Haptic Touch, and up to 625 nits brightness
- A-series chip with six-core CPU, including two performance cores and four efficiency cores, and a four-core GPU
- Wi‑Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
- Dual SIM (nano-SIM and eSIM)
- 12MP rear wide camera with ƒ/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization, digital zoom up to 5x, True Tone flash with Slow Sync, Deep Fusion, Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, and Smart HDR for photos
- 4K video recording at up to 60fps, optical image stabilization, QuickTake video, slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120fps or 240fps, time-lapse video with stabilization, and stereo recording
- Front-facing camera with ƒ/2.2 aperture, Retina Flash, HDR, Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting, 1080p HD video recording at up to 60fps, Cinematic video stabilization, and QuickTake video
- Supports Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG video playback
- Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, and barometer
- Glass front and back
- Aerospace-grade aluminum
- Water resistance
- Lightning port
- Qi wireless charging
- Up to 50 percent charge in 30 minutes
Apple’s breakdown shows that the iPhones share many notable features, but there are still meaningful differences between the iPhone SE and iPhone 11, such as their display sizes, authentication technologies, and chips.
- Smaller form factor, weighs 144 grams
- 4.7-inch Retina HD display
- Home Button with Touch ID
- A15 Bionic chip with 16-core Neural Engine
- 5G connectivity
- Single rear camera (Wide)
- Photographic Styles
- Smart HDR 4 for photos
- Front-facing 7MP FaceTime HD camera with 1080p HD video recording and Smart HDR 4
- Battery life with up to 15 hours video playback
- Rated IP67 water-resistant to a depth of one meter for up to 30 minutes
- Midnight, Starlight, and PRODUCT(RED) color options
- 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage options
- Larger form factor, weighs 194 grams
- 6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD display
- Face ID
- A13 Bionic chip with 8-core Neural Engine
- 4G connectivity
- Dual rear cameras with two-times optical zoom range (Wide and Ultra Wide)
- Night mode
- Next-generation Smart HDR for photos
- Audio zoom
- Front-facing 12MP TrueDepth camera with 4K video recording, next-generation Smart HDR, slo-mo video support, Animoji, and Memoji
- Battery life with up to 17 hours video playback
- Rated IP68 water-resistant to a depth of two meters for up to 30 minutes
- U1 Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
- Supports Dolby Atmos audio playback
- Purple, Yellow, Green, Black, White, and PRODUCT(RED) color options
- 64GB and 128GB storage options
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.
For just $70 more, the iPhone 11 offers a more modern design, a larger display, Face ID, an Ultra Wide camera, Night mode, a considerably better front-facing camera, and longer battery life. There is also the benefit of improved water resistance, the U1 chip, and Dolby Atmos audio playback, and even additional color options to choose from. All of this makes for a fairly significant upgrade over the iPhone SE if you value these features and can afford the $70 extra.
That being said, the main drawback with buying the iPhone 11 is its age. Released in late 2019, the iPhone 11 has a much older and less powerful chip, and lacks some more modern features like 5G connectivity. Overall, it comes down to whether you value having a newer device with more of the latest specifications, or can look past this to get a device with a larger display and Face ID.
If you prefer the iPhone 11’s unique set of features, then it is still a good option for $499, but generally most users looking for an affordable iPhone should opt for the iPhone SE since it features the A15 chip and 5G connectivity.