Google Pixel 4a vs iPhone SE Comparison: Which One to Buy?

Google Pixel 4a

Google today launched its mid-range Pixel 4a to take on Apple’s 2020 iPhone SE and other mid-range Android smartphones. At first glance, the Pixel 4a does look like an impressive mid-ranger from Google. If you are wondering how the Pixel 4a compares to the new iPhone SE, read our comparison below.

While the Pixel 4a and the 2020 iPhone SE are priced very similarly — $349 vs $399, both companies have taken a very different approach with their mid-ranger and made compromises in different areas. Depending on what you value more, only one device is right for you though. If you are confused as to which device is right for you, the Pixel 4a or the 2020 iPhone SE, read our comparison below.

Design

  • iPhone SE – 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm, 148g, IP68 certified, Touch ID
  • Google Pixel 4a – 144 x 69 x 8.2mm, 143g, Rear fingerprint scanner, Stereo speakers

There’s a big difference in terms of design and build quality of the Google Pixel 4a and the 2020 iPhone SE. The iPhone SE has a glass body with an aluminum chassis while the Google Pixel 4a features a plastic unibody. The glass panels make the iPhone SE more premium to feel in-hand. The iPhone also has an IP68 certification which means it is dust and water-resistant which the Pixel 4a lacks. The latter does have stereo speakers while the iPhone SE makes do with a single bottom-facing mono speaker.

The 2020 iPhone SE is also more compact because it has a smaller 4.7-inch display at the front. However, the plastic unibody design of the Pixel 4a makes it more reliable and sturdy, and it also makes up for the lack of its inferior build quality by featuring a bigger 5.81-inch OLED display with a greater screen-to-body ratio. The Pixel 4a has a fingerprint scanner located at the rear, while the iPhone SE has a physical home button at the front with a fingerprint scanner integrated into it.

The iPhone SE’s feels outdated as its nothing but a rehash of the iPhone 8 design language which Apple had first debuted in 2017. The Pixel 4a is not going to win any design awards either but it does look more modern than the iPhone SE. For some strange reason though, the Pixel 4a is only available in a single color (black).

Display

  • 2020 iPhone SE – 4.7-inch Retina HD, 1334 x 750 resolution, 326 ppi, Haptic Touch
  • Google Pixel 4a – 5.81-inch OLED display, FHD+ resolution, Always-on Display,

Another area where the Pixel 4a trumps the 2020 iPhone SE. While Apple’s offering features an IPS LCD panel, the Pixel 4a not only features a bigger but a higher resolution OLED panel as well. Being an OLED display, the Pixel 4a is also able to offer Always-on Display which the iPhone SE misses out of on.

Adding insult to injury, the Pixel 4a features a better screen-to-body ratio that gives it a far more modern look than the iPhone SE which has chunky bezels at the front.

iPhone SE 2020

Chipset

  • 2020 iPhone SE – A13 Bionic, Third-generation Neural engine
  • Google Pixel 4a – Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G

If there’s one area where the 2020 iPhone SE absolutely trumps the Pixel 4a, its in the performance department. The iPhone SE uses the same A13 Bionic chip that’s found inside the iPhone 11 series which is an absolute performance monster. In comparison, the Snapdragon 730 inside the Pixel 4a is strictly a mid-range chip that is nowhere near close to the A13 Bionic in terms of performance. The performance gap might not be that understandable right now, but it will play an important role in the long run as it will allow Apple to update the iPhone SE for a longer period of time.

Storage and RAM

  • 2020 iPhone SE – 3GB RAM | 64GB, 128GB, 256GB storage options
  • Google Pixel 4a – 6GB RAM | 128GB storage

The Pixel 4a comes with twice the amount fo RAM as the iPhone SE. This gives it an edge in the multitasking department, though the device is limited by its mediocre Snapdragon 730 chipset in many ways. As for storage, while the iPhone SE ships with base 64GB of storage, Google offers the Pixel 4a in only one variant with 128GB of storage as standard. In the storage and RAM department, the Pixel 4a does offer more bang for the buck.

Connectivity

  • 2020 iPhone SE – Gigabit LTE, Wi-Fi 6, eSIM, Dual-SIM, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC with reader mode
  • Pixel 4a  – LTE-A, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, 3.5mm jack

The iPhone SE offers more connectivity options than the Pixel 4a, including faster LTE download speeds and better Wi-Fi connectivity. A better LTE modem might not seem like a major difference on paper but it ends up having a huge impact on real-life usage. The only saving grace for the Pixel 4a here is that it features a 3.5mm jack which the iPhone SE misses out on.

iPhone SE 2020 back

Camera

  • 2020 iPhone SE – 12MP, f/1.8 aperture, OIS, Portrait Lightning, Stereo recording, 4K 60fps video recording, 7MP f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera
  • Google Pixel 4a – 12.2MP f/1.7, OIS, 4K video recording, 8MP f/2.2 front camera

It is a close call in the camera department between the two devices. Both phones feature a single shooter at the rear with similar specs, with the differences boiling down to their image processing. The Pixel 4a does have Google’s famed Night Sight mode so it can take some outstanding low-light photos. The iPhone SE misses out on a dedicated Night mode so its low-light performance is not as good.

In terms of video recording though, the iPhone SE is in a league of its own and the Pixel 4a simply cannot match its competition here.

Battery Life and Charging

  • 2020 iPhone SE – 1821mAh, Fast wired charging, 7.5W Qi wireless charging, 5W power adapter bundled
  • Google Pixel 4a – 3140mAh, 18W fast wired charging

The Pixel 4a has a battery that’s bigger than 50 percent than the one found inside the iPhone SE. Despite all of Apple’s optimizations, the 2020 iPhone SE can last for around day of moderate use. Anything more and you will have to charge the device during the middle of the day. The Pixel 4a should also offer battery life in the same region as well — good enough for a day of moderate usage. While both Pixel 4a and iPhone SE support fast wired charging, Google actually bundles the 18W USB-C adapter with the device while Apple ships a paltry 5W charger with the iPhone. The latter does have one advantage, it has wireless charging which the Pixel misses out on. Wireless charging is a great way to top up your smartphone’s battery while you are working or while driving your car.

iPhone SE 2020 camera

Price

  • 2020 iPhone SE – Starts from $399
  • Google Pixel 4a – $349

In many ways, the Pixel 4a offers more bang for the buck with its $349 price tag. The iPhone SE costs only $50 more but it comes with only 64GB storage. A bump to 128GB storage increases the price of the device to $449. While that’s $100 more in the short term, the 2020 iPhone SE will pay for it in the long run with its better performance and longer software support. iPhones also tend to have better resale value than Pixels so you can get at least $100 from the device when you sell it three years from now which won’t be possible with the Pixel.


What are your thoughts on the Pixel 4a? Will you buy it over the 2020 iPhone SE? If so, why? Drop a comment and let us know about it!