The iPhone SE (2020) has long been the cheapest Apple smartphone. The iPhone 11 Pro is at the other end of the spectrum, but it also offers a lot more. You can find out which device is right for you in this comparison between iPhone SE and 11 Pro.
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First of all: A comparison between the iPhone SE (2020) and the iPhone 11 Pro is not really fair. Because the devices are aimed at different target groups. While the former is the cheapest entry into the Apple world, the iPhone 11 Pro is a high-end smartphone that makes almost no compromises.
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Design: oldschool vs. modern
Smartphone designs are always a matter of taste. However, we assume that the modern look of the iPhone 11 Pro will be more popular with most – which we will deal with first. The design of the triple camera on the back is divided. But it is definitely an eye-catcher. Without a doubt, the almost borderless display and the very high-quality stainless steel housing are nice to look at. You won’t find more premium at any other manufacturer. Overall, Apple’s flagship is certainly one of the most visually attractive devices on the market.
The iPhone SE (2020) is a bit more classic, but is still a pretty (aluminum) smartphone. The design with the rounded corners is almost identical to that of the iPhone 8. Which also means that it is the only current Apple smartphone with a home button. And as you know, some iPhone fans have missed the last models. If you are one of these people and can see the slightly wider display edges, the iPhone SE look may be your thing.
Display comparison: LCD vs. OLED
At first glance it becomes clear that there are enormous differences in the display between the iPhone SE (2020) and the iPhone 11 Pro. The cheaper model offers an LC screen with relatively wide bars. The flagship, on the other hand, has an almost borderless OLED display, the display quality of which trumps the already good picture of the SE. The so-called “Super Retina XDR Display” of the iPhone 11 Pro delivers a very good color display and sharpness, at the same time it uses little energy.
Operation: gestures vs. Home button
The slightly wider display edges of the iPhone SE (2020) are functional. The front camera is in the upper one and the home button is in the lower one. This ensures a completely different operation than the iPhone 11 Pro. Instead of navigating via Apple’s gesture control, you use the round button to get back to the start screen from an app, for example.
Anyone who knows the home button from older iPhones and has become fond of it doesn’t have to get used to the new iPhone SE. But then he misses what is probably the best gesture control on the market.
Security: Face ID vs. Touch ID
The home button of the iPhone SE is not only used for navigation. The smartphone can also be unlocked using the integrated fingerprint sensor. Apple calls this the Touch ID. The feature also allows you to confirm purchases in the App Store without having to enter your password.
On the iPhone 11 Pro, Face ID is responsible for unlocking and authentication. It is a 3D face recognition that you will hardly find in any other device in this form. Other manufacturers also offer smartphones with facial recognition. But security often leaves a lot to be desired. Not so with Apple: Both Face ID and Touch ID are considered extremely secure.
Performance: iPhone SE and 11 Pro at eye level
Amazingly, the iPhone SE (2020) can keep up with the Phone 11 Pro in terms of performance. Because both devices have Apple’s fast A13 Bionic, which at the time of release clearly outperforms all Android chipsets released in the same year. It is a small sensation that Apple is installing its showpiece in such a cheap device.
Nevertheless, the iPhone 11 Pro offers a little more performance because it is equipped with more memory. The manufacturer does not reveal exactly how much RAM is installed in the devices. According to teardowns, there is 4 GB of RAM in the iPhone 11 Pro and 3 GB of RAM in the SE.
The following speed test examined how big the performance differences between the iPhone SE (2020) and the iPhone 11 Pro are. According to the benchmarks used (e.g. Geekbench and AnTuTu), the distance is measurable, but not too large.
iPhone 11 Pro vs. iPhone SE in camera comparison
In addition to the display, the second huge difference between the iPhone SE (2020) and the iPhone 11 Pro: the number of lenses on the back. The single camera of the iPhone SE does its job amazingly well, thanks in particular to the Smart HDR AI image enhancement. There is hardly a camera smartphone in the price range that delivers a similar quality here – especially when it comes to video recording.
But the triple camera of the iPhone 11 Pro plays in a completely different league again: thanks to the telephoto lens, you get an optical zoom here without loss of quality. It also ensures an even better bokeh effect in portrait mode. An ultra wide-angle lens is also available for landscape and group photos:
And then there is the night mode, which enables much better shots in the dark. Tip: You can find out more about the camera functions of the iPhone 11 Pro in our guide to Deep Fusion, Smart HDR and Co.
The recording of videos is generally a great strength of Apple smartphones and also excellent with these two devices. Both phones film in high 4K resolution at 24, 30 or 60 frames per second. The iPhone 11 Pro also throws more weight here: With the flagship, you can zoom in or out twice, digitally, a six-fold magnification is possible.
As already mentioned, the SE has no optical zoom at all. But there is a 3x digital zoom. You also enjoy the expanded dynamic range of the iPhone 11 Pro with 60 fps clips (iPhone SE up to 30 fps). Even at the maximum frame rate, the camera covers a very large brightness range. Lady Gaga’s music video shows what impressive clips are possible with the iPhone 11 Pro:
One thing should be noted: The triple camera offers significantly more options for image composition thanks to its three lenses. In addition, the photo quality is consistently higher – thanks to night mode, especially in the dark. So if photos are a high priority for you, you should go for the iPhone 11 Pro. If it doesn’t necessarily have to be the best possible camera, the new iPhone SE is also sufficient.
Selfies on iPhone 11 Pro better
The high-end device also has the edge when it comes to the front camera: the iPhone SE takes selfies with 12 MP, the SE “only” with 7 MP. In addition, Smart HDR only optimizes your selfies with the iPhone 11 Pro. Instead, the less efficient Auto HDR is used in the cheaper model. Both devices are able to take bokeh selfies with a blurred background. Animojis and MeMojis are only available on the iPhone 11 Pro, since the TrueDepth camera is a prerequisite for this. Even slofies – selfie videos in slow motion – can only be recorded with the iPhone 11 Pro:
To avoid misunderstandings: The new iPhone SE is also ideal for standard selfies. However, as in many other areas, the flagship offers a few extras and even more quality.
If you run out of power on the go, even the best smartphone is worth nothing. So what about the battery life of iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone SE (2020)? Here, too, the more expensive model clearly stands out. The iPhone 11 Pro has a battery capacity of 3046 mAh, for the SE it is only 1821 mAh. According to studies, you should also get through the day well with the cheaper model. The Pro model is more persistent.
Apple specifies the maximum audio playback time at 65 hours. With the new iPhone SE, it is only 40 hours. Video plays the flagship up to 18 hours in a row, while the entry-level model ends after 13 hours.
Fortunately, both smartphones can be charged quickly: Fast charging with 18 watts should fill the battery level to 50 percent in 30 minutes. The iPhone 11 Pro comes with the necessary power supply and the mandatory USB-C to Lightning cable. SE users have to buy both separately (together around 60 euros). Both smartphones support wireless charging.
The iPhones in the price comparison
The iPhone SE is available from 479 euros – in the colors white, black and red (“Product RED”). The individual configurations differ only with regard to the internal memory. Here is an overview of them:
- 64 GB: 479 euros
- 128 GB: 529 euros
- 256 GB: 649 euros
The price for the iPhone 11 Pro starts at 1149 euros. The colors available are space gray, silver, night green and gold. Again, the only difference between the individual configurations is the storage space:
- 64 GB: 1149 euros
- 256 GB: 1319 euros
- 512 GB: 1549 euros
iPhone SE vs iPhone 11 Pro: the main differences
Before our conclusion, we want to present you the most important similarities and differences of the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone SE (2020) in key points:
- The iPhone SE (2020) costs less than half as much as the flagship and offers excellent value for money
- The A13 Bionic Chip ensures top performance in both devices
- The OLED display of the iPhone 11 Pro is superior to the LCD of the SE and has much narrower edges
- The (triple) camera of the iPhone 11 Pro is also better than the single lens in the SE, which nevertheless takes good photos and excellent videos
- Selfies are also better with the premium smartphone
- There are major differences in operation: the iPhone SE uses the home button, the high-end device uses modern gesture control
- The iPhone 11 Pro can be unlocked via Face ID, the SE, however, via Touch ID
- The battery life is longer on the top model
Conclusion: iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone SE?
If you’ve read our comparison between iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone 11 Pro, you now know that there are big differences between the two Apple smartphones. Each one is an excellent device for the corresponding target group.
We can recommend the new SE without hesitation to all those who want an iPhone or iOS 13 without spending a lot of money on it. With the A13 chip, it has the same heart as the iPhone 11 Pro and is therefore future-proof for years to come. Also because Apple is known to provide its smartphones with (iOS) updates for significantly longer than Android manufacturers.
If, on the other hand, only the best is good enough, you have to use the iPhone 11 Pro (or its Max version). The flagship contains the most modern smartphone technology that Apple currently has to offer. In particular, photo enthusiasts will not regret the surcharge for the top model. And: The photos taken with the triple camera look twice as beautiful on the OLED display. Now it’s up to you: will it be the iPhone 11 Pro or the iPhone SE (2020)?
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