iPhone SE (2020) vs iPhone XR: Which is a better buy?

iPhone SE (2020) vs iPhone XR: Which is a better buy?

There’s no denying the appeal of Apple’s newly launched iPhone SE (2020). The new king of affordable iPhones, the iPhone SE (2020) is now the lowest priced model Apple offers. Most of the hype surrounding the new iPhone SE is how it’s a solid value for the price, a true statement if you’re buying the phone brand new. On Swappa, you can get you a lot more phone for the same amount of money. Case in point: the Apple iPhone XR.

The iPhone XR is still one of the best phones you can buy in 2020. In fact, it was one of the most popular iPhones sold on Swappa last month, so it seems a lot of people feel the same way. In this post we’ll be comparing the iPhone SE (2020) with the iPhone XR, exploring differences in hardware, features, and of course — the price. By the end, you should be in a much better position to decide which iPhone is a better fit for you.

iPhone SE (2020) vs iPhone XR specs

iPhone SE (2020)iPhone XR (2018)
Display4.7-inch 1,334 x 750 LCD (True Tone)6.1-inch 1,792 x 828 LCD (True Tone)
Camera12MP rear / 7MP front (Smart HDR, Portrait mode, 4K HDR)12MP rear / 7MP front
ChipsetA13 BionicA12 Bionic
Storage64GB / 128GB / 256GB64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Battery1,821 mAh2,942 mAh
Wireless chargingYesYes
Water resistantIP67IP67
SIMDual (Nano + eSIM)Single (Nano)

iPhone SE (2020) vs iPhone XR features

How big is the new iPhone SE (2020)? It’s about as small as newer iPhones get, carrying the same 4.7-inch screen dating back to the iPhone 6 in 2014. While the iPhone SE is a great option for those who prefer smaller phones, it might be lacking for those with bad eyesight, or anyone who prefers larger phones with more screen real estate.

iPhone SE (2020) vs iPhone XR size

iPhone SE (2020)iPhone XR (2018)
Screen size4.7 inches6.1 inches
Dimensions138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm

The iPhone XR on the other hand is much larger, with vastly superior edge-to-edge display and Apple’s now trademark “notch.” The iPhone XR is technically a medium-sized iPhone — bigger than the iPhone X, XS, and 11 Pro, but slightly smaller than the XS Max, and 11 Pro Max — but still plenty large for anyone who enjoys a big phone.


Seeing as how the iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone XR are only a generation apart, both are similar when it comes to actual performance. Both have 3GB of RAM which is useful for multitasking (prevents apps from closing prematurely), while the new iPhone SE is equipped with the latest A13 Bionic chip, and the iPhone XR features the previous generation A12 Bionic.

A13 Bionic vs A12 Bionic: power savings

  • A13’s high-performance CPU cores use 30% less power
  • A13’s high-efficiency cores and GPU use 40% less power
  • A13’s Neural Engine uses 15% less power

Apple says the CPUs on the A13 (two high-performance cores and four energy-efficient cores) are up to 20% faster than the A12, while the A13’s GPU sees a 20%+ increase in performance. This may not sound like much (and quite frankly, it isn’t), but the A13 also uses 40% less power when performing at the same speeds as the A12.

On benchmarks, this translates to the A13 delivering faster performance when using the same power as the A12. The average user, however, is less likely to see any real world impact on battery life, especially when the iPhone XR has a 38% bigger battery than the new iPhone SE.


The iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone XR are equipped with single 12MP rear cameras but in terms of actual photo quality, it’s a toss up. The XR features a more recent 1.4µm sensor with larger Focus Pixels, while the new SE is uses the same older sensor as the iPhone 8, but takes advantage of the A13’s improved image processing.

Both the new SE and XR are able to take advantage of Apple’s Smart HDR for improved photo and video quality. Smart HDR essentially combines several photos at various exposures, combining them for a much sharper image with better dynamic range. Older iPhone models have HDR, but Apple’s Smart HDR really takes things to the next level.

This also extends to video where the iPhone SE and XR can both record 4K HDR (high dynamic range). The only difference between the two is the iPhone SE adds 4K video stabilization and QuickTake video capture. Also, while the iPhone SE and iPhone XR have only a single lens camera, both are capable of capturing Portrait mode photos with depth control and advanced virtual bokeh.

Unfortunately, Apple’s new Night Mode — which captures extreme low light photos — is absent from both the iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone XR, a feature still exclusive to the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max (odd considering the iPhone SE has the same A13 Bionic chip as those devices). All-in-all, you’re not likely to notice much of a difference in photo quality between the iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone XR, with 4K video capture having a slight edge on the new iPhone SE.

Other features

As for similarities, you’ll find a lot in common between the new iPhone SE and the iPhone XR. Both feature Qi wireless charging, IP67 water resistance, 18W fast charging, and both are running the latest iOS 13 operating system. The iPhone SE (2020) does support dual SIM (Nano and eSIM), which is more of a niche feature and both models offer the same storage options.

iPhone SE (2020) vs iPhone XR price

How much is the iPhone SE (2020)? The new iPhone SE retails for $399 (64GB), $449 (128GB) and $549 (256GB) at Apple. It’s not a bad deal if you’re shopping around for a brand new iPhone and looking for something cheap to enter into Apple’s ecosystem. Although still fairly new, you can already find second gen iPhone SE models hitting the Swappa marketplace. On Swappa, iPhone SE prices start at around $389 and with prices dropping all the time, it’s easy to find a great deal on the new iPhone SE.

Of course, the iPhone SE (2020) isn’t for everyone. There is still a large number of people who not only prefer, but require big screened phones to read text without squinting. At Apple, the iPhone XR is priced at $599 (64GB) and $649 (128GB), with the 256GB being officially retired. On Swappa, iPhone XR prices start at $390 and you can even find the now discontinued 256GB still being sold. Any way you slice it, that’s a huge discount on the iPhone XR.

In many ways, a used iPhone XR is an even better value than the iPhone SE (2020). It takes everything you love about the iPhone SE and kicks up a notch (no pun intended), giving you a larger screen, bigger battery, similar performance, and newer features like Face ID — all while still remaining cheap and budget-friendly. So why buy the new iPhone SE (2020) when you can get a lot more phone with the iPhone XR? Start shopping the best prices on the iPhone XR by hitting the button below.