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iPhone SE vs Google Pixel 3a || Make The Right Buy

The new iPhone SE, launched in April of 2020 has disrupted the market with its stunning camera, processing power & all the convenience it has brought with it only for a price tag of $399. We also did a review regarding its specs, camera, day to day use, performance and so on.

However, the android giant Google has been providing us with the Pixel lineup for quite a while now and their latest budget release from 2019 (which also happens to be $399), the pixel 3a also takes some excellent photos as well. In this post, we’ll have a comparison of the google pixel 3a vs iPhone SE 2020 and see which one holds up to its name.

Also, keep in mind that this is (somewhat) not a fair example. And as we are speaking, the Pixel 4a is already making its way to the market and Hopefully, we might be able to see it by June of 2020. 

Design & Build:

The iPhone SE, even though released in 2020, has the body exactly that of the iPhone 8 which was released in 2017. As expected the design is not up to date and the 16:9 IPS LCD display can be a sore to the eye. But even though, the Glass-Aluminum sandwich design along with Apple’s legendary QC (for the in-hand feel, weight distribution etc.) make up for the limitations.

One the other hand, Pixel 3a is a simple device from 2019. It won’t take the spotlight of the room as it is not that flashy, not made up of premium glass materials, etc. but it holds up pretty well. Also, being a newer design google has included an OLED Panel with a 18.5:9 aspect ratio and the inclusion of the headphone jack is a good addition.

A quick look at the display section: 

DeviceiPhone SE 2020Google Pixel 3a
Form Factor138.4 mm x 67.3 mm x 7.3 mm (5.45 in x 2.65 in x 0.29 in)151.3 mm x 70.1 mm x 8.2 mm (5.96 in x 2.76 in x 0.32 in)
Display Size4.7 inches IPS LCD,
1334 x 750 pixels(326 PPI),
16:9 ratio.
5.6 inches OLED,
2220 x 1080 pixels
(444 PPI), 18.5:9 ratio. 
Weight & Color147 gm
Black, Red & White
148 gm
Just Black, Clearly White & Purple-ish
Design FeaturesIP 67 Water & Glass Resistant,  Oleophobic coating for display, Scratch resisting glass, Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensorAsahi Dragontrail Scratch-resistant glass, Always on Display, Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor

Check the latest price of iPhone and Pixel 3a from Amazon:

iPhone XR

Pixel 3a

Hardware & Performance:

This is where the pixel 3a falls short of iPhone SE which features the flagship-grade chipset from Apple. On the other hand, google pixel 3a features a mid-range SD 670 which is fine for the day by day use but can’t perform as well in heavy workloads. Also, Apple is renowned for its superior optimization of the iOS which makes the device even more snappy and fluid. The pixel 3a, also being maintained right from the core of google also keeps up with the latest android version and security patch. But main shortcoming of android is the platform is not as refined as the iOS. 

here is a quick overview of both of their hardware:     

DeviceiPhone SE 2020Google Pixel 3a
ChipApple A13 BionicQualcomm Snapdragon 670
GPUApple custom-designed 4 coreSnapdragon Adreno 615
ProcessorHexa-core, 2 Powerful 2.65GHz + 4 Efficient 1.8GHz cores, 64-bit based on 7 nmOcta-core, 2 Powerful Kryo 360 Gold + 6 Efficient Kryo 360 Silver  64-bit based on 10 nm
Internal storage64GB, no SD Card Slot64GB, 128GB & 256 GB, no SD Card Slot
OSApple iOS ( Currently on iOS 13)Android (Currently on 10)


This is where the competition gets interesting. Even though both phones come from the very distinctive manufacturer and they both serve a completely different range of customers, Camera performance is the main section where we can make an apples to apples (or should we say apples to googles… just kidding) comparison. And surprisingly both of their performances are quite good in this price range despite having some strengths & weaknesses. 

First, have a quick look at their camera specs:  

DeviceiPhone SE 2020Google Pixel 3a
Main cameraSingle Shooter having 12 MP  with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF), Aperture: F1.8 with 28 mm Focal LengthSensor size: 1/3″Quad-LED Dual Tone Flash Smart HDRPanorama Single 12.2 MP Wide Camera at f1.8, (with OIS and PDAF).Aperture size: F1.8 with 28 mm Focal LengthSensor size: 1/2.55″Dual Tone LED Flash HDR+ EnhancedPanorama Capability
Front7 MP at F2.2 ApertureNo OIS but Comes with EIS & HDR8MP at F2.0 Aperture
Video recording3840×2160/4K UHD @ 24/30/60 fps,
1920×1080/Full HD @ 30/60/120/240 fps
3840×2160/4K UHD @ 30 fps, 1920×1080/Full HD @ 30/60/120 fps, 1280×720 HD upto 240 fps

So, looking at the specs you can see both cameras are similar in specs but the pixel has a slightly bigger sensor whereas the iPhone SE has a slightly better quad flash setup. 

Actually the main magic happens in the Image Processing Unit in both devices and they both produce a stunning back camera image in daylight. But in Night the Pixel pulls ahead in the competition because of its superior night mode and astrophotography mode. Also, keep in mind that the utilities provided by google pixel 3a like the text recognition, picture to text, object recognition features are a mile ahead of the iPhone SE. 

On the front camera, both phones feature a good one even though the megapixel count is not that high. They click good photos in daylight with above-average portrait quality. However, the pixel has the ability to change the depth effect wherein the apple has better edge detection.  

On the other hand, iPhone SE has a superior performance (but not by much) in video recording due to Apples years of experience in the field. Both the camera features Optical Image Stabilization and Electronic Image Stabilization so the recording is significantly better while on moving or shaky conditions.  Bottom line is, If you like day to day casual photo-taking of your friends and family then iPhone SE is the way to go. But, If you are into some advanced level like night photography then consider pixel 3a as a choice.    

Some photos taken from the iPhone & pixel 3a:

Credit: GadgetMatch

Software Experience: 

As stated earlier, both the phone provides a completely different user experience due to their nature of OS. Apples iOS, where you will lose your freedom to tweak with the software, the overall feel of the device while gaining a load of extra features like the iMessages, Facetime, Apple Pay etc. Another big thing is the Apple ecosystem is so much more versatile and feature-packed that anyone invested in this hardly moves to another.

On the pixel side, things are completely different with much more freedom of tuning your look & feel of the device’s software but also lacking the feature-rich and productive apps that come with Apple Store. However, it can make your life way too easier thanks to google’s advanced AI assistant. 

So, we can’t determine a winner here as both are miles apart in their motto of user experience

Battery & Others:

As for battery life here, Pixel 3a is way better when the phone comes under stress like gaming, long photo-taking sessions, doing video, or  Outside GPS tracking on full brightness. On the other side, though iPhone SE doesn’t perform as well in stress having a smaller battery, the standby time is phenomenal. But, on our experience, you’ll need to charge both devices before going to sleep and let them charge overnight. However, if you somehow missed the overnight charging or need immediate charging Apple features a wireless charging so that you can charge without connecting your phone to a power adapter.  

 A quick view at the battery specifications: 

TypeLi – Ion, Not removableLi-Poly, Non removable
Capacity1,821 mAh3,000 mAh
ChargingUSB Power Supply, Qi wireless chargingUSB Power Supply, No Wireless Charging

Other features are good in both the devices as they feature the latest Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, and packed with sensors. However, the lack of a headphone jack in the iPhone might be a deal-breaker for someone. Do keep that in mind before buying if you are into wired audio streaming.

Bluetooth           Yes, Bluetooth 5.0Yes, Bluetooth 5.0 
Wi-Fi802.11 a, b, g, n, ac, ax, Hotspot, dual-band capability; MIMO Support 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac, dual-band & Hotspot Capability; MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct etc.
SensorsAccelerometer, Barometer, Gyroscope, Compass, Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyroscope, Compass, 
USBLighting Port Upto 18W CharingType-C, USB 2.0 uptp 18W Charging
Data SpeedLTE-A, HSDPA+ (4G) 42.2 Mbit/s, HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/sLTE-A Cat 11 (600/75 Mbit/s), HSDPA+ (4G) 42.2 Mbit/s, HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s
SIM E Sim / Nano SIM (Dual Sim)E Sim /  Nano SIM
HeadphonesNoYes, 3.5mm jack
OtherWi-Fi Calling, NFCVoIP, Tethering, OTA, NFC

Final Thoughts:

So guys that is all for our iPhone SE vs Google Pixel 3a showdown. As you can see, both the phones are very capable in terms of their own uniqueness and the camera being their strongest arsenal. However, if you are an average person who wants to buy one from these two, it will be Apple’s iPhone SE 2020 edition. The main reason is this phone is newly released and Apple will be supporting this device for at least 4 years (till 2024) judging by their past track record. Another important reason will be the pixel 3a is an early 2019 device. With smartphone technology advancing so fast, there is no point of buying a one-year-old device for 400bucks.

However, if you are not in any hurry, We suggest you to wait for the launch for the Pixel 4a. Judging by the leaks & rumors, it is going to give Apple a run for the money. Even, you could get it at a discounted price. Otherwise, go for the iPhone SE without any thinking.

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