Comparison between Google Pixel 6a and iPhone SE 2022: Which budget phone is the best?

Comparison between Google Pixel 6a and iPhone SE 2022: Which budget phone is the best?

If you’re shopping for a new smartphone and trying to stick to the budget, chances are that you’ll eventually come across two specific devices: the Google Pixel 6a and the third-generation Apple iPhone SE.

They’re two of what many – including us – consider to be the best budget phones on the market. We’ve given both devices very positive reviews because they offer some of the best experiences you can get for under $500, but both are different enough that they can appeal to completely different people.

We split the two devices to see if a Made by Google phone is right for you or if Apple’s latest “budget” offering is right for you.


6.1 inch OLED 2400 x 1080 (60 Hz)

4.7-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1334 x 750 (60 Hz)


tensor google

Apple A15 Bionic

Storage and RAM

128 GB storage, 6 GB RAM

64 GB / 128 GB / 256 GB, 4 GB RAM


Main camera 12.2 MP f / 1.7, 12 MP f / 2.2 ultra-wide, 8 MP f / 2.0 selfie

Main Camera 12 MP f/1.8, Selfie 7 MP f/2.2


4,410 mAh (18W charging)

2,018 mAh (20W charging, 7.5W Qi wireless charging)


In-screen fingerprint reader

Touch ID (home button)

electronic identification number level




178 g (6.28 oz)

144 grams (5.08 ounces)




Design and display

Max Bondono/CNN

In the design department, Google and Apple can no longer be that different. The Pixel 6a borrows a familiar look from the more expensive Pixel 6 series, with slim bezels around the display and a large camera strip on the back. Meanwhile, Apple is reusing a 2017 design with thicker bezels and a home button.

Combined, we think 6a is much better. It’s more modern and feels like a phone released in 2022, whereas the SE could have come out in 2017 and you’ll never know the difference.

Of course, both phones have some common features. Both use glass and aluminum for their attachments, and both offer IP67 certifications for water and dust resistance. All of them also have fingerprint readers, with the 6a opting for an in-display device and the SE with classic Touch ID. Ultimately, if appearance is important to you, 6a is the way to go.

Jacob Kroll/CNN Underscored

This applies to screens as well. The Pixel 6a has a 6.1-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2400 x 1080. The iPhone SE, on the other hand, sticks to a 4.7-inch LCD panel with a resolution of 1334 x 750. The OLED panels provide individually lit pixels that can be turned off when not in use, Which provides not only more vibrant colors, but also more inky blacks. LCD panels have a single backlight behind the entire panel that lights up everything, resulting in minor color washes and less impressive black levels.

So it’s no surprise that 6a takes the cake in the show department. It’s more fun to look at, and it’s better suited to consuming content like movies and YouTube videos. While the SE isn’t necessarily bad, the 4.7-inch screen can get cramped pretty quickly, and you won’t even get HD video quality. Overall, 6a is the winner when it comes to display quality.

TL; DRThe Pixel 6a has a much better design and a much better screen than the iPhone SE, which continues to use recycled parts from previous iPhones.

Jacob Kroll/CNN Underscored

This is another area where the Pixel 6a and iPhone SE couldn’t be different. The 6a comes with Google’s Tensor system which debuted in the flagship Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. However, with 6 GB of RAM instead of 8 or 12 GB as on the high-end models, the 6a tends to suffer a bit when it comes to heavier operations. It generally looks as nimble as the more expensive models, but you can definitely tell that Google isn’t unleashing the full potential of Tensor in this case.

Meanwhile, Apple is going to blow your socks off with the A15 Bionic chipset in the iPhone SE. In our review, we found the performance to be nearly identical to that of the flagship iPhone 13 line that shares the A15 chip, and in some cases note that the SE benchmark is higher than its more expensive counterparts. Despite having only 4GB of RAM to work with, multitasking is a breeze, things are reliably fast and smooth and we couldn’t find anything throttling the processor enough to start slowing down. By far, the SE is a mid-range phone that you can get if you care about performance.

In the storage department, the base model ships with the iPhone SE at 64GB while the Pixel 6a gets double that at 128GB. If you want to match that amount to the SE, you’ll need to get the $479 model. While that’s not a huge difference, it’s still $30 more than 6A, which he gets by default.

TL; DRThe Pixel 6a delivers decent performance with its flagship Tensor processor, but Apple’s A15 Bionic inside the iPhone SE knocks it out every time.

Max Bondono/CNN

On the back of the Pixel 6a, Google includes a 12.2MP f/1.7 main camera. This is paired with a 12MP f/2.2 sensor with a 114-degree ultra-wide lens. Meanwhile, Apple is shipping the iPhone SE with a single 12MP f/1.8 camera on the back.

Photos taken with the main cameras on both devices are basically equal to each other. While Apple and Google love to add their own tweaks to the aesthetics of the images their cameras capture, some things are certain. Both sensors provide great image quality in well-lit scenarios as well as dimly lit environments, while providing good color reproduction and detail. Video quality is comparable too, with both phones capable of 4K capture at 60fps with good stability and clarity.

This is where phones start to appear. There’s not much you can do with a single rear camera, which makes the iPhone SE one of the most limited camera setups on the market right now. The Pixel 6a takes the cake in this area thanks to the built-in Ultra Wide Lens that makes taking photos more fun and versatile.

Jacob Kroll/CNN Underscored

You also get all the Google photography tricks like Magic Eraser (the ability to remove objects and other people from photos with AI), the amazing Portrait mode which is still much better than SE, Real Tone (better representation of skin tone) and Face Unblur, the overhead shot , repeating faces, dual exposure controls, and cinematic column.

On top of that, the 6a also gets Night Sight which greatly improves night photos, a feature the iPhone SE doesn’t have an alternative version. No matter how you look at it, anyone with an interest in photography will want to pick up the Pixel 6a on the iPhone SE — there’s simply more you can do with it compared to Apple’s device.

TL; DR: While the iPhone SE and Pixel 6a take very similar photos in daylight and dim environments, the 6a takes the cake when it comes to versatility, night photography, and artificial intelligence.

Battery life and recharge speeds

Max Bondono/CNN

The iPhone SE line has never been known for its battery life, and that hasn’t changed with the 2022 model. As you can imagine, the Pixel 6a takes the crown again.

The SE comes with a 2018 mAh cell which Apple says can last 15% longer than the previous model. We found the battery to last a full day in our testing, but we did get a low battery warning when we went to bed. On the other hand, the Pixel 6a’s 4,410mAh cell lasts at least an entire day with around 30% to 35% remaining in the tank. If you use it lightly, you can go to sleep at 50%, which may give you enough to make it a second day. In our battery test where we looped a 4K video at 50% brightness, the iPhone SE lasted 11 hours and 20 minutes while the Pixel 6a managed to stay awake for over 14 hours.

Although the Pixel is able to keep charging longer than the iPhone, Apple beats Google in the recharging department. The SE supports 20W fast charging which is noticeably faster than the Pixel 6a’s 18W charging, especially since the SE’s battery is much smaller. Apple is also supplying the iPhone with wireless charging, something the Pixel is totally lacking.

TL; DR: If you need a phone that lasts an entire day and then some, get the Pixel 6a. If you value wireless charging, you’ll want to check out the iPhone SE.

iOS vs. Android

Jacob Kroll/CNN Underscored

We’ll be up front with you: we can’t tell you to get any of these phones based on their operating system. Some people prefer iOS for its cohesion with the rest of the Apple ecosystem, while others prefer Android and its flexibility to work with more products and services from other companies. It is a decision that you have to make because it is subjective.

What we can tell you is that both iOS 15 and Android 12 are great releases. They both work very well on the iPhone SE and Pixel 6a, and each has an impressive set of features. If there’s one advantage one phone has over the other, the iPhone SE will likely be supported longer than the Pixel 6a. Google guarantees software updates for only three years, while Apple regularly provides updates for four or five years for its phones. Whether this is worth it depends on how long you plan on owning the phone.

TL; DR: We can’t tell you to choose iOS or Android as your phone’s operating system, but both are great in their own right on the iPhone SE and Pixel 6a.

Max Bondono/CNN

At the end of the day, the best phone here is easily the Pixel 6a. For $20 more than the $429 iPhone SE, you get a nicer design with a much better OLED display, a more versatile camera array (and capacity), and longer battery life. It’s kind of a no-brainer.

That’s unless you’re in the Apple ecosystem. If you delve into Messages, iCloud Photos, or Apple Arcade — you probably have an Apple Card — you’d better get an iPhone SE. It will integrate better with the rest of your digital lifestyle than the Pixel 6a, plus you get better performance and wireless charging. You’ll just have to be okay with less battery life, a smaller design, and a single rear camera.

#Comparison #Google #Pixel #iPhone #budget #phone

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