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iPhone SE vs iPhone XR vs iPhone 11: Which phone should you buy?

iPhone SE vs iPhone XR vs iPhone 11: Which phone should you buy?

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iPhone SE vs iPhone XR vs iPhone 11: Which phone should you buy?

If you want to get the most bang for your buck on an iPhone, you have a healthy number of options. Apple sells no fewer than three iPhones for less than $700 (not including refurbished models), and deciding between them can be tricky. But as someone who’s used all three phone extensively, I’ve broken it down for you to help you decide how to spend your money wisely. 

Let’s start with how much of your money you’re going to need to spend. We usually talk about cost at the end of these comparisons, but since price will directly dictate the decision-making process here, you should know what they cost up-front.

  • iPhone SE: $399
  • iPhone XR: $599
  • iPhone 11: $699

Each of these phones starts at 64GB of base storage, which will be plenty for most people. If you want more, you can upgrade to 128GB for $50 more or 256GB (iPhone XR and 11 only) for $150. Now that we know what you need to spend, let’s dive into the differences.

Design: Modern vs classic

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see the difference between these three phones. The iPhone SE has a home button and the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 do not. But of course, the design differences are deeper than that.

iphone 8 plus iphone xs maxDan Masaoka/IDG

The iPhone SE uses Apple’s old bezel-heavy design while the XR and 11 embrace the newer notch.

The iPhone SE adheres to the iPhone design Apple introduced with the iPhone 6: it has a huge bezel and a lot of dead space around the screen. Despite that, however, it’s a good deal smaller than the iPhone XR and 11.

  • iPhone SE: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm
  • iPhone XR: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm
  • iPhone 11: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm

As you can plainly see, the iPhone XR and 11 are identical in size and shape. They’re not big phones by any stretch, but the iPhone SE feels incredibly small by comparison, even with gargantuan bezels. It’s also noticeably lighter, at 148 grams versus 194 grams for the iPhone 11 and XR.

Around the back, they’re very similar too, with a camera in the left corner, a centered Apple logo, and a glass body. And there’s no shortage of color options with these phones either:

  • iPhone SE: Black, white, red
  • iPhone XR: Black, white, red, blue, yellow, coral
  • iPhone 11: Black, white, red, green, yellow, purple

This is largely subjective, but I wouldn’t recommend picking one of these phones just because you like a particular color. For one, you’re probably going to put it in a case anyway but more importantly, all of the colors look good, even the ones you wouldn’t think you’d like.

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