The new iPhone SE is no reason to switch away from Android

iPhone SE 2020 Software Hero
iPhone SE 2020 Software Hero (Image credit: Apple)

Unless you've been living under a Galaxy S20 Ultra-sized boulder for the past few days, chances are you've heard about the iPhone SE (2020). The phone was announced on April 15 and met with a lot of fanfare, seeing as how it brings the power of the iPhone 11 Pro to a compact form factor with a much lower price.

In a lot of ways, the iPhone SE is fully deserving of all the attention it's getting. Harish argued that the SE basically killed all other value flagships, largely thanks to Apple's A13 Bionic processor.

The A13 Bionic is a big deal. Along with offering flagship-level speed and performance, it also ensures that the iPhone SE will stay updated with the latest version of iOS for years to come. Factor that in with a reliable 12MP camera, day-long battery life, IP67 water resistance, and Qi wireless charging, and it's easy to see why this $399 phone has a lot of folks talking.

Here's the thing, though. While the iPhone SE is a phenomenal purchase for people with an aging iPhone 8 or older, it doesn't make much sense for anyone that uses and prefers Android over iOS. That's not to say that Android is objectively better than iOS, because it's 2020 and it's about time you accept that both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. Instead, it's meant as a word of caution.

Pixel 4 and iPhone 11 displays

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Let's say you have an old Android handset and are in desperate need of an upgrade. You really like Android and don't have any reason to switch away from it, but now you're seeing all this hype about the iPhone SE being such a great deal. You decide to pick it up, start using it, and quickly realize that iOS is a much different beast than what you've been used to for the past few years.

iOS is great, but why switch to it if you don't want to?

All the customization features you're used to on Android? Those don't exist on iOS. Like being able to set third-party apps as your default web browser, navigation app, etc.? iOS doesn't let you do that. All of your paid apps and games from the Google Play Store? Those don't transfer over to the App Store.

iOS is a good operating system, but if you know that you like Android, there's no sense in forcing yourself to switch and having to put up with a bunch of unnecessary headaches — especially when there are so many options out there for low-cost Android phones that aren't pieces of junk.

Google's Pixel 3a (opens in new tab) is perfect example. It has a very similar price compared to the iPhone SE and has everything you could ask for in a no-frills Android phone. The OLED display looks awesome, performance is plenty fast, the 12MP camera is shockingly good, and Google guarantees software updates through May 2022.

Google Pixel 3a XL

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

You could also get the Moto G Power (opens in new tab), which comes equipped with three rear cameras, a clean build of Android 10 with some fun customizations from Motorola, and an insane 5,000 mAh battery that allows you to use the phone for up to three days on a single charge. If money's especially tight, you can even pick up something like the Nokia 2.3 (opens in new tab) which offers about as barebones of an experience as they come in exchange for a dirt-cheap price.

In a lot of ways, the iPhone SE is superior compared to other value-focused smartphones — there's no question about that. However, if you need to throw away the operating system you're used to and settle for one you don't like, is it really a good purchase?

It'd be a different story if there weren't options for good and cheap Android phones, but that simply isn't the case. The market is filled with endless options, you just have to look a little harder since not all of them are as well-known as Apple's latest handset.

So, yes — the iPhone SE is an excellent deal. If you want an iPhone and only have $400 to spend, it's the best purchase you can make. For anyone that happens to prefer Android, though, it's just doesn't make any sense.

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

71 Comments
  • The way I see it, Tim 🍎 had some left over parts from the iPhone8. So what's he do? He puts a V12motor in a VW? Smart move, yes 💯? The A13 bionic chip is a force to be recognized 👌?
  • Bone apple tea
  • You can get a lot of recent android performance phones for around $400. But a Pixel 3a? No!
  • Yeah for as much praise as the 3a got I didn't bite. Limited storage, lackluster design, and performance seemed average. Luckily it seems the 4a will fix that.
  • Yeah the 64GB storage is my only major annoyance with the 3a. But the performance had been fine, even after a year when the experts said it would slow down. Android 10 has even improved it. Not sure if I'll bite on the 4a, the screen and battery are smaller than the XL version I have.
  • First off, the A12 rolls and smokes the 865 across the board. That's a fact. Secondly, you can run all the main google apps on IOS. Matter of fact, all the apps I currently run on android 10, I can run on IOS 13. There is some customization on IOS 13. I have a Iphone 8 for work and I run swift keyboard on it without issue. It isn't quite as bad as the author makes out to be.
  • So what the A whatever is more powerful. Who cares. Bothaare powerful and few are going to notice in real world use. That's also a fact.
  • How well does the A13 run Android?
  • Dkev - Based on what?
    Benchmarks? I own the XS and iPhone 11 with the A12 and A13. Put them side by side with a Oneplus 6T for example, and there is little difference in ACTUAL performance. The whole "A series is more powerful than the universe" myth reminds me of a kid showing up at the racetrack with a paper that says his Honda has a thousand horsepower. Benchmarks are that paper.
  • The SE might get some people to crossover to iOS but I think the big win will be among kids and teens getting phones for the first time. Parents won't hesitate to get an iPhone now because of the price, when previously iPhones seemed too much of a luxury good.
  • In my part of the world New Zealand the new iPhone is around $800 so not a cheap kids phone. Way better and cheaper androids here.
  • No cheap junk Android phone for what the iPhone SE 2020 offers, no wireless charging and IP67 water resistance. New Zealand is insignificant to Apple.
  • I think Google needs to get their ish together and get the 4a out already. I think the 4a would be a much more worthy opponent to the SE.
    Camera will probably be better and screen will be bigger and better. Battery life will be better. Still will have 3 years of support plus another of security updates. Comparing to a phone from last year though is harder to compete. And every article about the SE is comparing to the 3a when the 4a should be compared (not by fault of journalists of course but Google should have releases sooner to compete)
  • The 4A won't even come close to the SE's performance.
  • It doesn't need to. The 4a has a CPU that's more than good enough for social media, texting, calling, watching YouTube videos, etc.
  • Err the Pixel 4 s needs to come close to the matching the performance of the SE but we all know it won't as it's using the mid range Snapdragon 730 from last year while the SE is using Apple's current A13 bionic chip which obliterates the lowly Snapdragon 730 bwahahaha.
  • Yes, an A13 chip with an inferior camera, a tiny 4.7" LCD display, that also happens to be less than full HD, and a battery that won't last all day. See? There's plenty of compromises with the SE as well.
  • The camera on the SE will be more than good enough for most people and our most Android mid rangers to shame.
  • Beno - The SE camera is not good enough to beat Android cameras from 2017. I know because I was personally involved in a camera shootout with another professional photographer. After several shots including low light, the photographer refused to share any more of his original images because he could not get any that were better than the Android we were testing with. That photo shootout was the reason he left Apple.
  • I didn't say the camera on the SE would beat any Android flagship but it would beat out most mid range Android cameras which apart from the Pixel 3a all of them suck.
  • beno51079 You seem to only reserve 'more than good enough' for the SE though. The Pixel 3a provides 'more than good enough' in areas like the processor and concentrates on a better camera, screen and battery life to the SE. The 3a camera shook up this range before the SE came with its A13 chip. There's no better midrange phone between the two, just what you want and what you're prepared to sightly sacrifice on.
  • So does the 3a, but you crapped on that above.
  • Maybe not a good deal but software support sure is tempting me to move away. When my phone recieved the Android 10 update it broke my Android Auto messaging and after several months there is no fix in sight. Both google and samsung know there is an issue but neither have announced a fix or plans to fix it. I'm tired of having broken/removed features and getting abandoned by either google or the phone maker. The fact that the phone makers dont build android and google (outside of their own phones) dont build the phones means there is an inherent lack of concern/care/knowledge of how to fix issues. Phone makers just want you to buy more phones. Google just wants their services to get used. At least with Apple they control everything and dont leave their users high and dry. Im giving it a few more months but if this goes unfixed I may just jump ship.
  • A couple of sticking points for me are my game saves (for the most part) not transferring from Android to iOS and the change from USB-C to Lightning (🖕 to Apple on that one especially). As much as I like the new iPhone SE, those two hurdles are just insurmountable to overcome.
  • In Canada it's 599. I bought a galaxy A50 for the big beautiful scree that just blows the iPhone away. All iPhones. Though the build is superior on the iPhone I put them in cases anyway. So no different ce there. The battery Is way superior too. As for performance the iPhone wins. No question. But it is by a second or milliseconds so really who cares? Game play is the same after it loads with no stutter or lag. But a hugely better experience on the a50 due to its farbigger and better screen. Plus. I paid oy 325.canadian for it.
  • I love my A50.
  • Other the screen and battery, your A50 is inferior to the iPhone SE 2020 and the SE will have far longer software support and Samsung doesn't have as good a ecosystem as Apple but they're the closest to Apple in the Android side.
  • Lol I don't want iOS so to me with my use my phone is better. :)
  • And I would rather the SE 2020 over any Samsung phone, which will slow down after 2 years while the SE will still be a performance beast your display is the only thing that's good about your A51 because even the Pixel 3a craps all over your Samsung but overall the SE beats both in performance.
  • Even with Android your game saves are gone when transferring your game data to another Android phone at least with an iPhone when transferring from an old iPhone to a new iPhone, your game data is backed up to iCloud which means you can continue where you left off and if you have a custom ring tone you've set on your iPhone for example, you're settings are saved unlike Android unless you use an OEMs switch app like OnePlus which is the best but it still doesn't save my football manager game data though due to the lack of a cloud save option on Android which is frustrating which on iOS, football manager has the option to save to iCloud.
  • Android apps can sync game/save data to the cloud but it's up to the developer to add in the support for Play Games. Plenty of games on Android do this but many do not.
  • Which most developers don't add cloud saves so that already makes already inferior games even more so next to iOS.
  • But that's not what you said originally... You said Android didn't have that feature. But it does so you are either ignorant to that fact or purposely misleading. "most developers don't add cloud saves" You got stats on that? All the games I play on my phone have Play Games integration. My anecdotal experience is just as valid as anyone's... All that said, I think idevices are mostly better overall for mobile gaming (except no emulators which is a big miss) but when you are talking about the SE it doesn't matter how powerful the processor is when the display is utter shitte even compared to most mid range Androids.
  • And yet even at 720p the iPhone SE destroys most mid range Android phones and no I don't know how many games have cloud saves but I'm very sure most of them that isn't Subway Surfers. Anyway the point is the iPhone SE has made most of the Android mid range phones obsolete just by including flagship features like the A13 Bionic chip, wireless charging and water resistance.
  • AnOthEr iPhoNe aRTicLe... 🤣
  • aNoThEr cOmmEnT aBoUt an iPhOne aRtIcLe. 🤫
  • Really you can not compare a $400 android phone to the new SE. They are not in the same pallpark. I have been with Android for many years and I am considering switching. One for the smaller footprint of the SE, andoids have gotten to big. Two, years of proper and timely updates, no more worrying if or when my phone may get updated. These have value and merit.
  • You'll get at least five years of updates with the iPhone. That is basically their standard timeframe now. Just last year, the 5S (released in 2011) actually received a 6th major update.
  • The 5S was released in 2013 not 2011.
  • Beno is correct; it was 2013. However, the 5S is a jittery and sluggish mess, thanks to the updates that are too much for the hardware to handle. I can hardly play games on mine because the constant frame drops are so distracting.
  • To be fair the 5S only had 1GB RAM and the A7 was duel core which was the equivalent of a cheap mid range Android phone in 2015 but it still destroyed most Android phones from 2013 but the screen is far too small for me to use in 2020.
  • There's no way that is going to be an all day battery.
  • 95% of consumers will NEVER utilise the full power of the A13. They don't even know what an A13 or S865 are, or even notice the millisecond or so difference in opening IG. They won't care. Plus phones have gotten to the point of being so well optimised, even my 3a XL still runs well on a lowly S670 long after experts say it should be slowing down. The camera still beats all at the price including the SE. Whatever phone suits you in ecosystem, screen size, form factor, camera is good enough to buy. The SE is by no means essential, barring those who crave the compact phone niche that needed filling.
  • The iPhone SE 2 for the processor and software support alone kills all Android "value flagships", and add wireless charging and IP67 water resistance, Android OEMs are gonna have a hard time matching all that the iPhone SE 2 offers $400.
  • I want to give another perspective to this situation, hear me out. I've been an Android user for a while but am slowly transitioning to Apple. First it was the iPod Touch to store my music collection separate from my Android phone. Then it was a secondhand MacBook Air. As a music lover getting into production, Garageband and Logic Pro X are the cheapest professional-grade software, par to non. I'll be sticking with secondhand Mac's because of this. So when I saw that there was a better value iPhone coming out, I decided to take the plunge, change my contract and I should be getting it soon. I've had the Galaxy S8 and haven't used the 'flagship features' (i.e: bloat). While Samsung has been reliable as far as manufactures go, their update support lifespan is still subpar, even on my flagship (to say nothing of their budget devices). I've just used it for web-browsing, social media, casual gaming and YouTube binging when looking at it objectively. When I started university last year, the battery life became problematic; when I had a full day, the battery would be close to dead by the time I booked a taxi home. Don't get me wrong, I love Android and my Amazon Fire tablet. But, the innovation of their smartphones is getting extreme. I don't want the three/four cameras from the Moto G Power or the Samsung A51 (the Power's battery life is great though!). I want a screen the size of a tablet (I have one!). I don't want a foldable screen. I don't need an edge-to-edge display. I want a smartphone that's stable, gets the basics right, has a fingerprint sensor that actually works, runs Facebook and Snapchat smoothly, is well supported and can run GarageBand on the go. The stated battery life on the SE is mildly concerning but I've ordered a battery case for it for basic protection and extended battery life. The innovation fuelled by the openness of Android is amazing, but there is the case for a smartphone that refocuses on performance, stability and functionality. I might go back to Android someday if the OS becomes more consistent in terms of performance, updates and simplicity. As it stands though, if Apple continues to make reasonably priced iPhones, iPads and that rumoured mid-range MacBook, then I could see myself staying there. The change in OS doesn't bother me either as I've become OS agnostic. I hope you can all understand my situation.
  • Very well expressed and that will be the common thinking of 90 pct of the public. You can eailsy run all of Google's apps on a iPhone and Googlify that iPhone with ease. Try to Applify an Android phone...
  • I just switched our phones to iPhones. I just upgraded my 2015 MacBook Pro to a new MacBook Pro. Next is to upgrade the kids and wife’s Samsung tablets to iPads. After being on Android for so long I was a little hesitant switching but since we switched I haven’t really missed Android. I can still use Google apps and some run better on iPhone
  • I totally understand where you're coming from and while my OnePlus 7T runs much smoother than any Samsung, tbe app quality is still inferior to iOS, even though Android has improved in that regard but there's no good alternative to GarageBand on Android and gaming is better too on iOS as I can save my games on iCloud unlike Android which only a few games can be saved online.