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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 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, 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 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.
  • Not reading this monstrosity of a comment.
  • Thanks you sanity has returned. Also do we need all these random people writing in saying they switched to iOS because of the SE. If you switched, awesome enjoy. Android is still going strong.
  • I just don't care for Apple products, from the Apple II through all the iPhones. There is something about the way they work that grates on me, but I still try to take a look at their new products when they come out, just in case something has changed. Nope. Obviously, some people want Apple exclusively. I am sure the new SE is a nice phone, just not for me.
  • And that is the basic point, to each their own... No wrong, no right.
  • From where I'm sitting the Galaxy S10e is only a little more but is a similar physical size, bigger and better screen, face unlock, two rear cameras. Take the A13 awayand and you have an average phone. Dated design, rubbish display, single lense. The game changing part its a cheap iPhone. Which quill appeal to many who don't care its inferior in most ways.
  • I left the iOS platform when my 3GS' 3-year contract expired and haven't looked back. (I was so unhappy with it after just the first year!) I use Android, Windows and Linux over Apple anything and I say this with all honesty: You couldn't *pay me* to cross over! Not even giving me Apple's most expensive current phone (whatever that is). It wouldn't come near to doing the things I can with my Note10+! Simply put: Leaving the Android (and Windows) worlds to go into Apple's is like being free then walking by a jailhouse one day and deciding that'd be a better place to be instead! WHAT?! WHY?!
  • iOS isn't that bad and 2 years away from Android has made me realize that, their isn't a good enough Android alternative to GarageBand and the app quality is still better on iOS and as for the customisation, other than when I set up my phone (on Android) I don't really customise my phone that much so iOS not being as customisable as Android doesn't bother me thought is not having updates on day 1 and I miss that and miss iMessage and FaceTime which Android doesn't have an equivalent that can match them (ok maybe WhatsApp comes close and along with Duo) but FaceTime is in pop culture, it's mentioned on TV shows as such as the social impact of FaceTime. And iOS and iPhones have better privacy and security which while the Play Store is better than it used to be (a lot of malware still slips through), it's not in the same league as as the iOS App Store and there's saving of games, iOS has iCloud to backup your game saves while Google Pay Games is limited to only a few games on the Play Store where as iOS it's not and games are better optimised on iOS as well and is the platform for gamers.
  • I meant that 2 years away from iOS makes me realise that it had the things I cared most about, better app quality, better privacy and security (my Facebook account got hacked) along with being able to save all my data including game data to iCloud, iMessage and FaceTime which Android just can't compare with plus long term software support.
  • “ 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.” Well, yes and no. This depends completely on how one uses their phone. The apps work about the same, then customization and notifications differ. I was a person who used Android exclusively for about 10 years. I got my first iPhone in September. Turns out that Google makes outstanding apps for iOS, and they work beautifully. Turns out they were a few things I actually prefer about iOS. Turns out there are some things I miss from Android. I have been as big of an Android evangelist over the years as one could imagine. However I am very much satisfied with by iPhone 11 Pro Max. There were 3 or 4 things that I thought I would never be able to do without if I ever left Android. It turns out that they were not as big a deal as I had thought. I suspect if other folks actually tried switching operating systems, some folks might come to the same conclusion - going both ways. There are folks that will never change no matter what, and that is fine. But that doesn’t mean that everyone should then not be open minded actually take a look at other options from time to time.
  • Take a Samsung Galaxy S7 and drop the A13 chip in it with an IP rating, wireless charging, and a single camera on back and everybody would hate it! Why, because of the form factory. Even kids don't want a screen that covers only 65% of the front on a phone. If you only use your phone as primary a phone and on ever once in a while look something up or maybe listen to music, then ok. Most buy smartphones for media. Using the SE for media would suck.
  • i have been an android user since 2010 nonstop and i hated iPhones. Until they actually got cheaper than Android. iPhones have been cheaper since the XR. It didn't help that Google's arrogance killed the Nexus and started pricing Pixels at $800, between $100-$150 more than an iPhone. Now this $400 ultimately did the trick: faster performance than ANY phone, including those $1200 flagships for a third of the price. Minimum 5 years of updates where pixels used to do 2 (now 3). Pixel 4a will be released with a mediocre midrange CPU (and the rumor is that the pixel 5 will do the same). For those that like to game, have the fastest cpu and have access to the latest OS on day one and don't care for all the camera bells and whistles this is the phone to get
  • A phone with a 4.5 inch screen will never be a gamer's phone LOL.
  • For the same price. my 3a XL has a better camera, screen and battery. Performance is solid and gotten even better on Android 10 thanks the great optimization job Google done. And it's still got updates until at least 2022, by which time I'd likely be on my next phone. It's got all I need so why would I switch to the SE, and iOS which I can't get on with? Going backwards to a Lightning connector as well? Come on. The processor in the SE is very nice for the price though, and IP rating and wireless charging. are welcome for this price too. But the compromises are worse for me than the ones the PIxel 3a XL made.
  • And yet the Pixel 3a has no wireless charging, water resistance and has a mid range processor and won't get updates beyond 2022 where as the iPhone SE 2 and the entire iPhone 11 lineup will get software support until 2025, show me am Android phone that offers what the iPhone SE 2 does and that's not even mentioning the A13 bionic chip which is the most powerful SoC in a smartphone. I personally would not buy the SE 2 because I'm visually impaired and the iPhone SE (2020) is too small for me to use but I'm getting an iPhone 11 though but I won't abandon Android (I love my OnePlus 7T) but I will be investing more into the Apple ecosystem which is better than anything on the Android side and show me a wear OS watch that compares to the Apple Watch.
  • You clearly didn't read what I said as I already touched on many of those things. I already know the Pixel 3a's compromises and prefer them to the iPhone SE's compromises. You even agree that the SE screen is too small, so it's not for everyone. Whatever ecosystem a consumer chooses will be good enough depending on their needs.
  • Just what is wrong with a mid-range processor when it clearly gets the job done. The A13 is overkill for this phone IMO, more suited for the media, camera and gaming requirements of the bigger screen iPhones.
  • A mid range processor isn't good for graphics intensive stuff and while mid range chips have gotten better in terms of day to day performance, it will obviously never be as powerful as flagship SoC and OnePlus changed the game when. Their prices were lower offering the latest flagship specs for half the price of a Samsung and is still rh case now but OnePlus phones starting from the 8 series are no longer offer the value now and iPhones while priced high, can justify the high prices thanks to long software support and an ecosystem that nobody has come close to matching and to answer your question, the A13 bionic chip is perfect for the iPhone SE 2, because the mid range market needed a shake up and it was always going to be Apple to show up the poor value of the mid range Android market, which especially when OEMs make too many compromises where as the iPhone SE makes the right amount of compromises for it's price and is cheaper than most Android mid range phones now and even the Pixel 4a won't be $399.
  • What graphic intensive stuff can't my Pixel 3a do then? It's seems to be handing everything I do in the phone just fine.
  • But your Pixel 3a can't play games like PUBG Mobile on high settings with tts said though, the Pixel 4a runs as well as my Nokia 8.1 with a slightly better Snapdragon 710.
  • I actually just purchased a 2020 SE for a family member and had a chance to get a good feel for it setting it up. For me, the size and marginal screen (let's be honest, it's a 720p 4.7" LCD that isn't particularly bright or punchy) is the deal breaker. A big bright screen is the most important hardware aspect of a phone for me and this just doesn't come close to being acceptable in 2020. In fact, I use a P3a as my daily driver and even that screen is too small for my liking. As for iOS vs. Android, I use a iPhone Xr for work every day along side my P3a and honestly it's really a "same but different" situation. They both do the same things in similar ways, but with different apps and navigation. That's about it.
  • Notifications still suck so hard on iPhone. That is the one thing I can't get over every time I have to pull out the iPhone 11 that was provided by my corporate overlords.
  • iPhone SE is a nice phone for many users.
    I am personally going to wait for pixel 4a, as having fastest processor is not as important for me as bigger better screen (given that I stare at the screen a lot), bigger battery and better camera (SE lacks night mode).
    And I suspect there are plenty of users who find features other than fastest processor more important.
  • The iPhone 11 Pro Max was enough for me to switch away from Android. The A13 Bionic chip, cameras, and regular software updates, not to mention the seamless connection to AirPods and Apple Watch, makes the phone the total package. To me, it's better than anything Android could offer.