Geekerati’s attention may be on the major Iphone And the pixels Cell phones, but there’s a more ferocious coupling at the bottom of the wallet. Sitting in the middle of the range are iPhone SE and the pixels 6a, representing their bigger brethren at an affordable price.
Of course, they can’t have everything flagships have, but they share the same vision of a connected smartphone. And they both try to lure you into buying them while ignoring the other. So, let’s take a closer look at the two phones and the factors to consider.
Has the choice already been made for you?
The biggest consideration, of course, is the operating system, be it iOS or Android. If you are already deeply embedded in Apple’s cloud-based service, it will be very difficult to leave. The cost of switching can be high, and there is a certain amount of momentum for those already using iOS that is hard to beat.
The same is true for those using Android, although with many manufacturers, you have a wider range of skins and functions available for purchase at different price points. Android allows you to switch between these phones easily. However, you have a similar hurdle to move away from Google’s Android to Apple’s iOS (although many cloud-based Google services run on iOS).
Let’s take it that for many people, they will stay on their current platform. This makes the choice easy. If you are limited to iOS, go for iPhone SE. If you’re in an Android park, use the Pixel 6a.
Is a bigger number better?
The iPhone SE and Pixel 6a both launched in the middle of the phone cycles of their bigger brothers. Both were launched with the current slides in that cycle. So you have an iPhone SE with Apple’s A15 and a Pixel 6a with a Google Tensor Mobile chip. The A15 has just been replaced by the A16 within the iPhone 14 family, and Google is set to release the next Tensor Mobile chip in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
Which, for a mid-range smartphone, still has plenty of processing power even when phones are a generation behind. The Google Pixel 6a gives more RAM (6GB versus 4GB), but Apple’s careful integration of software with hardware means the SE can deliver performance on fewer resources.
Benchmarking puts this head-to-head with the iPhone SE, but the real power of these chips isn’t creating the biggest number on a meter, but rather having a real impact on owners. This is clearly visible in the camera.
Large numbers may not show the whole picture
Both phones come with a 12-megapixel main camera on the back. Only the Pixel 6a enhances this with a second lens, in this case another 12MP ultrawide camera. Both phones rely on computer imaging to improve and edit incoming image data for better output.
This is where the Pixel 6a has the advantage. The Tensor Mobile chip may not take the standard king crown, but Google has focused the design on creating a chip geared toward machine learning and enabling AI features… just the kind of hardware you need to get the best possible images, in good light, images are comparable, but once low Lighting levels, the Pixel 6a’s night mode becomes its own… and the iPhone SE’s lack of night mode is an Achilles heel.
Images are one of the areas where subjectivity can come into play, but the Pixel 6a packs in more features with more physical capabilities.
How small is it enough?
The Pixel 6a looks like a small design smartphone of 2022. It’s not an edge-to-edge screen, but there are minimal bezels around the 6.1-inch screen. This OLED display offers 2400 x 1080 pixels, so you’re all set to watch HD videos that don’t clash with your selfie camera. You feel that the screen is taking up a lot of space.
Design-wise, the Pixel 6a is clearly a Pixel phone, with the camera bar carried over from the larger Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. This is a recognizable phone, something that can be tricky in the Android space. But 6a – which has a lot of technology – looks huge. Small but huge. This is a real feeling phone.
iPhone SE is smaller, thinner and lighter. If your primary consideration is physical size, SE is the winner. But you should keep in mind that this phone uses Apple’s high-end design…from 2014 and the iPhone 6 launch. It has a physical Home button with Touch ID that occupies a wide area on the bottom edge, and the top bezel is of the same size. All this makes the screen size up to 4.7 inches and a resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels using LCD technology.
With more expansive applications, and greater reliance on social media strips, space is an information-serving feature. The iPhone SE is a much smaller window into the world. What you gain in small form is limited by, ironically, the small form factor.
Pixel 6a, with its ability to display Full HD (and remain a bit for the control bar) easily wins over the screen. A touch bigger, but still in the realms of what is considered small in the 2022 market.
keep up with the world
Google has confirmed the Pixel 6a update schedule – three years of OS updates and two more years of security updates. Apple was not clear. Although you can see that the second generation iPhone SE from 2020 is still being updated with the latest version of iOS, while the original SE launched in 2016 was supported by iOS until iOS 15, which was released In 2021… so there’s five years of support showing up there. Past performance is not a guide to future intentions, so you have to take the strong detail from Google compared to Cupertino’s Apple support promise.
Your feelings for the latter may be a victory for SE, but this argument will give it a slim win.
iPhone SE is rated as 15 hours of video playback or 50 hours of audio but does not provide a guide for “usage”. The general rule of “it will last through the workday and into the evening” has been passed here, but the SE is light in terms of battery capacity due to its small size. The Pixel 6a has a much larger battery and Google rates it for “more than 24 hours of battery life,” so with careful use you can probably get a full two days out of the phone.
Shipping is a different matter. Both phones support faster charging, with the iPhone accepting up to 20W of power compared to just 18W on the Pixel 6a. The 6a is also limited to wired charging, however Apple also includes wireless charging in the iPhone SE.
I’ve been a champion in wireless charging for decades, so I’m more drawn to the iPhone SE here, but then I’m at a desk most of the day so it’s easy to keep the phone on top. A busy day out and about recording audio for podcasts and radio…then SE struggles.
There is a clear difference here… More comfort or more endurance.
Flagship ships can contain just about everything, they are the ultimate expression of the manufacturer’s vision.
The middle range is not that easy. There are price points to consider, meaning that decisions and choices must be made about what is important and what can be left out. Arguably, these compromises are a better illustration of the manufacturer’s direction and values than the flagship.
Apple is pushing the iPhone SE to its smaller physical dimensions and weight, putting a lot of emphasis on being an iPhone and relying on the implicit security of Apple’s cloud services. Google has taken the Pixel 6a toward a more modern design, high-quality screen, and processing power dedicated to tasks based on machine learning.
Is it possible to announce which one is better than Pixel 6a and iPhone SE? I can definitely decide what works best for me personally – it’s the Pixel 6a, the higher resolution and bigger screen along with my old one is a nice combination. If you are looking for a definitive answer, it lies in the philosophy of the phone manufacturer, the needs you have as an end user, and your current situation.
What I can say is this. From measurable numbers and specifications, both can get the job done and are fit for purpose. Announcing one winning phone? This is a little more philosophical.
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