Test Shows if $399 iPhone SE Is Really Faster Than $1,400 Galaxy S20 Ultra

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It has been widely considered that Apple’s chipsets are way faster than any chipset used in Android smartphones each year. This year, Apple surprised everyone by launching the iPhone SE with the A13 Bionic chipset but an extremely affordable $399 price tag. Is the iPhone SE faster than $1,399 Galaxy S20 Ultra?

The 2020 iPhone SE uses the A13 Bionic chipset and 3GB of RAM. The Galaxy S20 Ultra is equipped with the Snapdragon 865 SoC and 12GB of RAM. The folks over at AndroidAuthority ran a series of carefully chosen tests to check the performance of the phone’s CPUs, GPUs, and mixed usage. The iPhone SE clearly beat the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

The 2020 iPhone SE won in the GPU and mixed-usage tests, while the Galaxy S20 Ultra won in single-threaded and multi-threaded CPU tests. Overall, the iPhone SE 2020 finished all the tests in 1 minute 15 seconds, while the Galaxy S20 Ultra finished tests in 1 minute 21 seconds. Even other tests showed that the iPhone SE is overall a faster device than the Galaxy S20.

Apple iPhone SE vs. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra Performance Test Comparison

The $399 iPhone SE did exceedingly well in GPU tests. To make the test as accurate as possible, the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s screen resolution was set to 720p as the iPhone SE has a similar screen resolution. Not only did the iPhone SE finished the GPU performance test 2.3 seconds faster, it also managed to do it at 34fps, while the Galaxy S20 Ultra could only manage 23 fps.

In other commonly found tests like AnTuTu and Geekbench, the results were a mixed bag. The iPhone SE won in Geekbench’s single-core CPU test, while the multi-core test was won by the Galaxy S20 Ultra, thanks to eight CPU cores compared to iPhone SE’s six CPU cores. In AnTuTu, the Samsung phone won in all the sub-sections, including CPU, GPU, memory, and UX.

Apple’s A-series processing chipsets have been at least a couple of years ahead of its Android counterparts, including Exynos, Kirin, MediaTek, and Snapdragon. The iPhone maker took the lead when it switched from 32-bit to 64-bit processors with the A7 inside the iPhone 5s. However, a lot also depends on the difference in the design strategy, the amount of cache memory, and power envelopes.

One strange thing about the A13 Bionic chipset in the iPhone SE is that it performs slower than the A13 Bionic inside the iPhone 11 Pro. There could be many reasons for the difference in performance: CPU frequency, GPU frequency, cache memory, or even RAM clock speed. We can never be sure what’s the exact reason, but the folks over AndroidAuthority say that it’s because of the cooling system. The iPhone SE has a lot less space than the iPhone 11 Pro, so it may not be able to dissipate enough heat, resulting in relatively slower performance.

Our Take

Apple shows with the iPhone SE that it clearly knows how to make great processors and to fit them inside affordable phones when necessary. The A13 Bionic chipset is clearly two years ahead of its competitors, but a lot also depends on how Apple can design iOS according to its own chipset and vice versa, but Android smartphone OEMs don’t have that liberty.

In the end, the iPhones could feel a lot faster, but most consumers won’t be able to notice that their Galaxy or Pixel (or any other Android smartphone) is a lot slower than iPhones. The difference is only really noticeable when the two phones are placed side-by-side.