iPhone SE vs. Pixel 6A: What Google Did Right and Apple Got Wrong

There’s a great phone under $500 that I would recommend to almost anyone looking for the best mid-range phone on the market. It uses the same chipset as the company’s much more expensive flagships, and it features an IP67 rating, a very good 12-megapixel camera, and a long battery life ahead of it with software support for many years to come. It’s not the iPhone SE, which I wish I could recommend as freely as the current category winner: the Pixel 6A. It’s a better phone, and that’s what the SE should have been. Here’s what Google did right — and what Apple should have done differently.

The Pixel 6A’s 6.1-inch display isn’t perfect. It’s not great outdoors, and it’s a 60Hz display in a world where faster refresh rates are becoming the norm. But here’s the thing: it’s pretty good. The iPhone SE’s 60Hz screen isn’t because, at 4.7 inches, it’s just too small for a phone in 2022. I’m saying this as someone who likes small phones , so if I think it’s too small, then it really is too small.


The iPhone SE 2022 strikes a minimalist figure.
Photo by Allison Johnson/The Verge

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The Pixel 6A mimics the design language of the 6 and 6 Pro.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic/The Verge

You can’t have everything from a mid-range phone, and the display is where Apple and Google have compromised to achieve a lower price. But a screen that’s too small isn’t something you can just settle for. Take wireless charging – the SE includes it, which hardly any other phone in the mid-range class does, including the 6A. But I think it’s something most people can do without. On the other hand, we stare at our phone screens ten thousand times a day; a reasonably large screen isn’t a convenience feature – it’s your whole phone.

Another place where Apple has gone too small: storage. The iPhone SE starts at $429 – a great price! But that only gives you 64GB of storage, and that’s not enough for all the apps we use and the 4K photos and videos we capture these days. The base Pixel 6A model costs a bit more at $449, but it offers 128GB of storage. That’s not huge, especially considering the phone is designed to last four or five years, but that’s what I would consider a bare minimum.

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