Home Technology Battle of the budget iPhones: iPhone SE 2020 vs iPhone SE 2016

Battle of the budget iPhones: iPhone SE 2020 vs iPhone SE 2016

We finally have something to cheer about when it is all gloom and doom outside owing to the Covid-19 induced lock down that we are having to endure at the moment. It is the iPhone SE 2020 that finally got to see the light of day, and at Rs. 42,500 ($399), it easily is the cheapest iPhone model you can buy. Pre-order starts Friday, April 16th while shipping is slated to begin April 24.

But then, how good is the new iPhone SE compared to its predecessor, the original iPhone SE launched way back in 2016. Let’s find out.

Design and build:

No surprises here, and you shouldn’t be expecting either with iPhone SE models as they are based on a yesteryear model to cut costs. For the SE 2020, it happens to be the iPhone 8 that the latest iPhone model gets its external looks from. That includes a glass front and back form factor with a metal strip holding the two sides together. The phone also comes with IP67 certification for water and dust ingress.

The front includes the 4.7-inch display flanked by a thick chin and forehead, something that does seem quite out of place when most other phones launched recently have edge-to-edge displays. You also have the Home button at the bottom, something that is quite a rarity with Apple devices off late. The physical Home button also includes the Touch ID sensor as well.

On the sides, you have the volume up and down button as well as the power button all arranged along the right. The rear is neat and uncluttered with a single lens camera and an LED flash, with the Apple logo sitting at the centre. It does look fresh considering most phones of the times come with elaborate camera systems comprising of multiple lenses.

In comparison, the iPhone SE has the same basic design but is slightly smaller and lighter – 113 gms for the SE 2016 vs 148 gms for the SE 2020. It lacks the IP 67 rating as well that the SE 2020 comes with, making the new phone more robust and durable. The first gen Se 2016 also had an aluminium rear compared to the glass build of the SE 2020.


As already mentioned, it is a 4.7-inch Retina IPS LCD display that you get with the SE 2020, lit up by 720 x 1334 pixels. The SE 2016, on the other hand featured a 4.0-inch IPS LCD panel having 640 x 1136 pixels. Interestingly, both phones have the same 16:9 display ratio while pixel density on both also happens to be the same at 326 ppi. The SE 2020 however has a higher 65.4 percent screen-to-body ratio compared to 60.8 percent for the SE 2016.

Processor, memory and storage:

The SE 2020 comes powered by the latest 7nm Apple A13 Bionic chip along with Apple GPU. The SE 2016, on its part, came powered by the most powerful chip of its times, the 14 nm Apple A9 processor while PowerVR GT7600 allowed for graphics processing.

The SE 2020 also features a 3 GB RAM along with storage options of 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB. For the SE 2016, it used to be a 2 GB RAM along with memory size options of 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB. None of the phones have support for external memory.


The new SE 2020 obviously has the edge with the OS, it being iOS 13 that it offers right out of the box. That means you will have access to such features as the universal dark mode, better battery saving modes, better privacy controls and so on. Interestingly all of these are available on the SE 2016 as well which is upgradeable till iOS 13.4 even though it started with iOS 9 when launched.

Rear camera:

It is a 12 mp f/1.8 primary camera that you get, with PDAF and OIS support for stable shots. You will also be able to shoot 4K and full HD videos besides recording stereo sound as well.

In comparison, the SE 2016 also came with a 12 mp primary cam but with a larger f/2.4 aperture. The camera also lacked Optical Image Stabilisation even though it featured PDAF. You also had the ability to shoot 4K, full HD and HD videos but no stereo sound.

A Dual-LED dual-tone flash, HDR is common for both the models.

Selfie camera:

Fortunately, it’s a huge improvement here considering that the SE 2020 comes with a 7 mp f/2.2 camera on the front compared to a 1.2 mp f/2.4 lens on its predecessor. Features such as Face detection, HDR, panorama is common on both models though you only could shoot 720p videos with the SE 2016 compared to full HD videos with the latest model.


You get stereo speakers with the SE 2020 something that its predecessor lacked. Then again, the SE 2016 features a headphone jack which again is lacking on the latest model.


There is a lot of similarity here given that both models feature Wi-Fi 802.11, GPS, NFC and USB 2.0. Both the phones lack infrared port and a radio as well. However, the SE 2020 boasts of Bluetooth 5.0 compared to Bluetooth 4.2 for the SE 2016.


There isn’t anything to be too excited here as the SE 2020 comes with a rather puny 1821 mAh battery even though that makes for a slight improvement over the 1624 mAh battery that the first gen SE featured.

Also, with the SE 2020, you get 18W fast charging support that allows for 50 percent charged accrued in just 30 mins. Plus, there is support for Qi wireless charging as well.

None of these with the SE 2016.


It starts at $399 for the base model. In India, the iPhone SE starts at Rs 42,500. Thereafter, it is Rs 47,800 for the 128 GB model and Rs 58,300 for the top-of-the line model with 256 GB of storage.

The iPhone SE 2016 starts at Rs. 16,999 for the 16 GB model while the 64 GB version retails for Rs. 43,999.