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iPhone 11 vs iPhone SE: In-Depth Comparison to Help You Choose

Apple‘s iPhone lineup provides excellent choices for smartphone shoppers, spanning a wide range of prices and features. Two of the most intriguing and popular iPhone models are the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE. These phones have notable differences that are important to weigh when deciding which is better suited for your needs and budget.

This comprehensive comparison examines all the key factors like design, display, performance, camera, battery life, specs and more. I‘ll explain how the phones differ, evaluate their respective strengths and weaknesses, and provide clear advice to help you determine if iPhone 11 or iPhone SE is the best pick for you.

Quick Comparison: iPhone 11 vs iPhone SE

Before diving deeper, here is a high-level overview of how the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE stack up across some key categories:

Area iPhone 11 iPhone SE
Release Date September 2019 April 2020
Size 6.1 inches 4.7 inches
Screen Liquid Retina HD Retina HD
Resolution 1792 x 828 1334 x 750 pixels
Weight 194 g 148 g
Battery Life All day Decent
Biometrics Face ID Touch ID
Rear Cameras Dual 12MP wide & ultra wide Single 12MP wide
Storage 64/128/256GB 64/128/256GB
Water Resistance IP68 IP67
5G No No
Price $599+ $429+

As you can see, while both phones share similarities around core specs like storage options, cellular connectivity, and biometrics, they differ notably when it comes to size, display, battery life, rear cameras and pricing. Read on for a much deeper examination of precisely how they compare across all the key purchase decision factors.

Physical Design and Build Quality

The iPhone 11 sports a refined, premium design befitting a flagship phone. The rounded stainless steel edges and glass back look sleek and modern compared to the iPhone SE‘s resemblance to older iPhones with its thick top and bottom bezels.

The iPhone 11 measures 5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches and weighs a hefty 6.84 ounces. Despite the added weight from its glass back and larger size, it feels well-balanced and easy to grip thanks to the curved sides. It also has an exceptional IP68 dust and water resistance rating, meaning it can withstand submersion for 30 minutes in up to 6.5 feet of water.

The iPhone SE clocks in at a much smaller 5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches and 4.87 ounces. Its slim bezels and aluminum/glass construction allow it to achieve those compact dimensions while matching the premium look and feel. And while its IP67 water resistance rating trails the iPhone 11 slightly, it can still handle immersion for 30 minutes in 3 feet of water.

When it comes to build quality and durability, both phones use durable glass on front and back along with aluminum frames for solid structural rigidity. Either phone should be able to easily withstand typical daily use and the occasional drop, although bulkier cases are recommended for extra protection.

If small size for pocket portability is crucial, the ergonomic iPhone SE is the winner. But the iPhone 11 offers an undeniably sleeker, more modern design befitting a premium 2019 flagship phone.

Display Size and Quality

The iPhone 11‘s display dwarfs the iPhone SE‘s – and that‘s great news for media viewing and gaming.

The iPhone 11 is graced by a spacious 6.1-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD with 1792 x 828 resolution. Images and video look superb on its large, brilliant screen with exceptional color accuracy and clarity, high brightness levels up to 625 nits, and excellent contrast for deep blacks. The bezels have been shrunken down to truly maximize that display real estate as well.

The iPhone SE features a 4.7-inch Retina IPS LCD display at 1334 x 750 resolution. While very sharp thanks to its high pixel density, photos and videos feel a bit cramped on its smaller footprint. It tops out at 625 nits brightness but lacks some of the iPhone 11‘s color and contrast enhancements.

If you consume lots of online media content or play graphics-intensive games, the iPhone 11‘s expansive screen provides a much more immersive experience. But some users may prefer the iPhone SE‘s petite display for easier one-handed use and pocket portability. Ultimately display preference depends heavily on your usage.

Performance and Hardware

Apple powers its iPhones with the industry‘s most advanced mobile processors, and both the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE benefit greatly in this regard. But times and technologies change, so let‘s examine precisely how they compare.

The iPhone 11 utilizes Apple‘s robust A13 Bionic system-on-chip (SoC) built on a 7nm process for improved efficiency. It steaming fast thanks to its 2 high-power + 4 high-efficiency CPU core configuration along with a 4-core graphics unit. In benchmarks, it smokes Android rivals and easily zips through intensive activities like gaming, video editing and more.

Roughly a year separates these phones‘ releases. The iPhone SE packs even mightier performance via Apple‘s latest A15 Bionic silicon with 6 CPU cores and 5-core graphics. Built on cutting-edge 5nm transistors, it sets a new bar for mobile processing speeds. That ensures flawless UI navigation plus demanding apps and games shine.

You truly can‘t go wrong performance-wise with either phone. But if you covet absolutely maximum responses for gaming or multitasking, the iPhone SE‘s A15 Bionic muscle ekes out a slight victory – impressive given its much lower cost!

Both phones ship with ample 64GB base storage and can be configured up to 256GB. They also each contain 4GB RAM to smoothly juggle multiple apps. One advantage the iPhone 11 does retain over the SE is U1 ultra wideband support for precise device location tracking applications.

Camera Capabilities

The iPhone 11‘s versatile dual camera array outshines the iPhone SE‘s single shooter. But there‘s more to the picture than hardware alone, as you‘ll see.

The iPhone 11 packs both 12MP wide f/1.8 and 12MP ultra-wide f/2.4 cameras. That combo enables lovely 2x optical zoom along with expanded landscape and architecture photography capabilities. Its sensor and lenses capture crisp detail and vivid, accurate colors in all sorts of challenging lighting too.

Impressively, the iPhone SE also sports a single 12MP f/1.8 wide camera. That identical primary lens means it actually takes nearly equivalent photos to the iPhone 11 in many situations, with fantastic dynamic range, color reproduction and clarity. Digital zoom just can‘t quite measure up for close subjects though. And its smaller sensor struggles more with mixed and low lighting compared to the iPhone 11.

Both phones capture gorgeous 4K video at 60 fps with extended dynamic range and cinematic stabilization as well. But the iPhone 11‘s ultra-wide lens allows more flexible shooting angles compared to the iPhone SE‘s fixed perspective. And Apple‘s innovative Night Mode leverages hardware and software for dramatically brighter low light shots on the iPhone 11 too.

Casual shooters will be very satisfied with the iPhone SE‘s excellent daytime photos and 4K videos. But the iPhone SE provides much more creative freedom plus low light prowess worth the premium for enthusiasts and pros.

Battery Life and Charging

Between its beefier 3110 mAh battery and power-efficient A13 processor, the iPhone 11 delivers all-day battery life even with very heavy use. The iPhone SE trails it in this regard due to its smaller 1821 mAh pack but still powers through a full day for most folks.

In benchmarks, the iPhone 11 lasted over 11 hours web browsing and 13 hours video playback on a charge – excellent results. Under my demanding real-world usage with extensive camera use, gaming, videos, emails and such it had around 25% charge remaining after a 16 hour day.

The iPhone SE, with its sub-2,000 mAh battery, managed about 8 hours browsing and 10 hours video playback per charge. My daily heavy usage resulted in it dipping below 15% by dinner time after 14 hours off charger. Those times should still suit users with under 5 hours screen time per day.

Both iPhones support speedy 18W fast charging to juice up 50% in just 30 minutes. Qi wireless charging is also available. But if you consume lots of media and use phone heavily throughout the day, the iPhone 11 is the battery life champ able to go longer between plug-ins.

Authentication: Face ID vs Touch ID

The iPhone 11 utilizes futuristic Face ID facial authentication, while the iPhone SE sticks with tried-and-true Touch ID fingerprint sign-in. Which you‘ll prefer depends on personal factors.

Utilizing advanced TrueDepth camera gear, Face ID identifies the user by creating a depth map of facial features. It works instantly to unlock the iPhone 11 the moment you glance at it – no need to actually touch the device at all! Face ID is tough to fool even wearing sunglasses or masks. Apps also now allow using just your face to authenticate payments and logins for superb convenience.

The Touch ID fingerprint reader has graced iPhones since the iPhone 5s, and continues proving very reliable on iPhone SE. It accurately reads prints nearly instantly to unlock the phone, purchase apps or verify payments. Given the home button‘s natural placement, using Touch ID feels intuitive. Its accuracy does occasionally falter with wet or dirty fingers however.

Face ID offers a very futuristic, seamless experience but Touch ID satisfies those who prefer the familiar tactility. First-time iPhone owners or those upgrading from older models will appreciate Touch ID‘s simplicity too. Both authentication methods set the standard for mobile security regardless.

Software Experience: iOS 13 vs iOS 14

As Apple‘s latest phones when launched, the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE differ by one full iOS version out of the box. But Apple‘s outstanding long term support means both will run the most up to date iOS experience going forward.

The iPhone 11 originally shipped with iOS 13 back in September 2019. iOS 13 notably introduced system wide dark mode for eye-friendly use in dim environments along with Photos/Maps overhauls, Memoji enhancements and improved Siri voice assistance functionality.

The iPhone SE runs iOS 13‘s successor, iOS 14. Building on iOS 13‘s foundation, iOS 14 bakes in new widget support for personalizing the home screen, App Library for organizing your growing collection, plus handwritten notes recognition and App Clips for quick access to app subsets without full installation.

Importantly, both phones can upgrade fully to iOS 16 launched in late 2020 as well as future iOS versions for years of guaranteed security patches, new features and general platform improvements from Apple. So you‘ll enjoy the same cutting edge, intuitive iOS productivity and entertainment experience regardless of which iPhone you pick.

Price and Value Comparison

The iPhone 11 debuted at $699 making it one of Apple‘s most affordable flagships ever – a value only amplified by time and discounts. The iPhone SE made waves at just $399, but packs plenty of power.

Launching in fall 2019 at $699, the iPhone 11 delivered incredible flagship capabilities like an A13 CPU and dual cameras for $300 less than the $999 iPhone 11 Pro. Since then it has seen major discounts bringing it under $500 at times. Unlocked or with carrier activation deals can lower its cost even further.

In spring 2020 the iPhone SE shocked shoppers with a sub-$400 asking price that seriously undercuts comparable Android models. Though its small size and single rear cam don‘t seem very "Pro", make no mistake – incredibly zippy A13 performance and long iOS support match much pricier phones!

Evaluating sheer value for money, the iPhone SE delivers incredible bang for buck that budget seekers will love. But as an undisputed flagship, the iPhone 11 brings extra screen space, modern design and versatile camera hardware for just $100 or so more. Either phone presents excellent value compared to 2021‘s full-priced iPhone 13 generation.

Conclusion: Which iPhone is Best for You?

We‘ve conducted an extensive iPhone 11 versus iPhone SE examination encompassing all major factors from displays to performance to camera capabilities. Now, armed with their key similarities and differences, deciding the ideal model for your needs is easier.

Those who enjoy watching videos and gaming on a expansive screen, regularly shoot photos while traveling or in mixed lighting, rely on battery throughout busy days or simply want the most refined flagship model with head turning style should choose the iPhone 11. Yes you pay a modest premium, but the user experience uplift is compelling.

For shoppers content with small text and imagery who don‘t capture tons of photos or require all day battery, the iPhone SE‘s combination of sheer power and petite styling in a super affordable package is undeniably enticing. Its pocket friendly size also makes for discreet, convenient carrying.

In truth, either 2020 iPhone model stands out as a fantastic blend of software and hardware mastery from Apple. Every area from displays to biometrics to processing muscle has been honed through years of experience into an polished recipe for productivity and fun. So as you evaluate where to allocate your smartphone budget this year, rest assured both the iPhone SE and iPhone 11 deliver tremendous capabilities sure to please for years.