The second-generation iPhone SE was unveiled earlier this month, and at $399, a lot of people are finding it attractive. It has the latest processor, the latest version of iOS, a handy design, decent battery life, wireless charging, and IP67 rating. The only seemingly cut-down part of the phone appears to be its camera, and that’s the aspect every smartphone user cares about. So, how does the 2020 iPhone SE holds up against the iPhone XR and the iPhone 11?
The iPhone SE has a single 12MP camera on the rear with OIS and 4K 60fps video recording. The device uses the iPhone XR’s front and rear-facing camera hardware but comes with a better processor and ISP, which helps with improved processing. It can capture HDR images and portrait images of people. It sits somewhere between the iPhone XR and the iPhone 11 in terms of hardware and software, but what’s it like in real life?
Well, a few YouTubers have compared the camera quality of the 2020 iPhone SE, iPhone XR, and the iPhone 11 side by side, and here are the findings. The iPhone SE takes better still images than the iPhone XR, and its pictures are almost as good as the ones from the iPhone 11. Images captured in daylight conditions showcase good details, accurate colors, and wide dynamic range. However, it is just as bad (or good?) in low-light conditions compared to the iPhone XR.
While the new iPhone SE can capture portrait images even with its single camera, it can’t click portrait images of non-human subjects such as a flower or a pet. However, you can use third-party apps like Halide camera to capture portrait images of non-human items as well. The iPhone 11’s 12MP front-facing camera clearly has a wider dynamic range than the 7MP front cameras on the iPhone SE and the iPhone XR.
Coming to the video quality, all three iPhones in the comparison are great, recording smooth and bright videos at 4K resolution. The iPhone 11 and the iPhone SE 2020 seem to have slightly better image stabilization, though. The iPhone XR and the iPhone SE have similar slow-motion video recording, and the iPhone 11 fares better here.
Coming to the videos shot using the selfie camera, the iPhone 11 is clearly better than the other iPhones in the comparison. While the iPhone 11 can shoot 4K 60fps using the front-facing camera, the iPhone SE 2020 and the iPhone XR are stuck at 1080p 60fps videos. The two cheaper iPhones also appear to have stuttery slow-motion selfie videos compared to the iPhone 11.
Another important feature that you’ll have to sacrifice if you decide to buy the iPhone SE 2020 is Night Mode. You can’t capture those pseudo-long-exposure images in low-light conditions, something that the iPhone 11 can do. So, images captured using the iPhone XR and the second-generation iPhone SE would never be as good in low-light conditions.
If camera quality is important to you than the design of the phone, you should get the $399 iPhone SE compared to the iPhone XR. However, if you can spend more money, you should get the iPhone 11, which can capture better images in low-light conditions, better selfies, better videos using the front-facing camera, and better slow-motion videos.
In any case, the iPhone XR doesn’t look like a better choice in terms of camera quality.