Friday, September 30

iPhone SE 3 vs. Google Pixel 5a: Which budget phone could win?

A steady stream of rumors claiming a new iPhone SE is on the way means we have an iPhone SE 3 versus Google Pixel 5a showdown in our future. After all, both the SE and the A-series of Google phones are the go-to devices when looking for a sub-$500 phone that doesn’t skimp on features, so you’ll want to know which phone offers the best value. .

The iPhone SE 3 doesn’t seem too different from the current model that first debuted two years ago, except for one crucial difference: Apple is keen to add 5G to the SE, so it can fill a big hole in its phone lineup. If you want a 5G phone from Apple right now, you need to pay at least $599, the starting price of the iPhone 12 mini.

The Pixel 5a doesn’t make that claim. At $449, it has one of the best camera setups among budget phones while offering a superior software experience to many of the best Android phones. The Pixel 5a sets a pretty high standard for any budget phone, including the iPhone SE.

Can the iPhone SE 3 top that bar? We won’t know for sure until Apple reveals more details about this device than is still rumored. But with the spring release date approaching, the rumor mill has increased, giving us enough details to speculate on who will fare better in a matchup between the iPhone SE 3 and Google Pixel 5a.

iPhone SE 3 vs. Google Pixel 5a: Specs Comparison

iPhone SE 3 (rumored) Google Pixel 5a
Screen size 4.8-inch LCD 6.43-inch OLED
Update frequency 60Hz 60Hz
UPC A15 bionic snapdragon 765G
Rear camera 12MP 12MP main; 16MP ultrawide
Frontal camera 7MP 8MP
5G support? Yes Yes

iPhone SE 3 vs. Google Pixel 5a: price and availability

More than any other feature, any battle between the iPhone SE 3 and the Google Pixel 5a comes down to price. And Apple could be about to undercut Google on how much its budget phone costs.

You may remember that the Pixel 4a stole some of the limelight from the current iPhone SE at $349, $50 less than Apple charges for its cheapest iPhone. However, the addition of 5G support, a doubling of storage to 128GB, and a second lens for the Pixel 5a increased the cost of that phone. It’s now $449, which is certainly cheap for the kind of features you get, but it’s not cheap for the iPhone SE.

So the proposition facing Apple is this: If it can add 5G support to the iPhone SE while keeping the current model’s $399 price tag, not only does it have a chance to undermine Google, but it could claim the title of best 5G phone for less than $400. We’ll be keeping an eye on Apple’s price movements, especially when it comes to storage.

Another advantage that Apple could have in this category is availability. Google limited the release of the Pixel 5a to the US and Japan, likely due to component shortages. In the US, Google’s Google Fi was the only carrier offering the Pixel 5a. It has since appeared on other discount carriers, but you won’t find the Pixel 5a on Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T.

The iPhone SE 3 is unlikely to suffer from that limitation; we anticipate a wide launch with multiple carriers selling the device in the US Current rumors suggest the iPhone SE 3 will appear in April or May.

iPhone SE 3 vs. Google Pixel 5a: Design

You could compare the Pixel 5a to Apple’s current iPhone SE model, the iPhone SE 2020, and those observations will likely still be relevant when the iPhone SE 3 arrives. That’s because Apple’s new phone is rumored to retain current model design.

Concept renderings of the iPhone SE 3 (Image credit: Apple Lab)

That means instead of a more modern display reminiscent of current Apple iPhones, the iPhone SE 3 will bear a strong resemblance to 2017’s iPhone 8: a 4.8-inch display surrounded by thick bezels at the top. and the chin, which houses the front camera and Touch ID. -Home button equipped, respectively. The current iPhone SE uses a glass and aluminum design, and we expect that to continue with the iPhone SE 3.

The Pixel 5a, on the other hand, uses plastic as its main material. There’s a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone and minimal bezels around the 6.43-inch display. Instead, Google uses a hole-punch cutout in the corner of the screen to include a front-facing camera.

pixel 5a (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

You can have the Pixel 5a in any color you like, as long as you choose black. The iPhone SE’s color options are only slightly less limited, with the current model featuring black, white, and red versions. Here’s hoping Apple breaks with tradition with the iPhone SE 3 and works more colors into the mix.

iPhone SE 3 vs. Google Pixel 5a: Display

The Pixel 5a is a rarity among budget phones in opting for an OLED panel instead of an LCD one. That’s not a distinction Apple has made, as the two least expensive phones in its current lineup, the 2020 iPhone SE and iPhone 11, use LCDs. It’s possible that the next iPhone SE will switch to OLED, as Apple now uses that type of screen in its other phones, but this seems to be an area where Apple can keep costs down by sticking with LCD.

iPhone SE 2020 (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

While fast refresh rates are all the rage among phones these days, even budget models, neither the Pixel 5a nor the iPhone SE will be joining the party. The Pixel 5a has a 60Hz refresh rate, which is standard for most phones. Given that the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini also remain stuck at 60Hz, I’d doubt Apple would introduce a faster refresh rate on the less expensive iPhone SE 3.

iPhone SE 3 vs. Google Pixel 5a: Cameras

Here’s one area where the iPhone SE 3 could have a lot of work to do. The Pixel 5a is one of the best camera phones out there, hands down the best you can buy for under $500. And that’s not just because of Google’s penchant for software-driven photography features, but also because this phone packs some weight into its hardware.

The Pixel 5a (bottom) and the current iPhone SE (top) (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

In addition to the 12 MP main lens, Google has equipped the Pixel 5a with a 16 MP ultra-wide shooter. That gives the phone more flexibility than single-lens devices like the iPhone SE, as the Pixel 5a can switch to ultrawide mode to capture more of the surrounding background in one shot. The Pixel 5a is also quite adept at night photography, a feature that the current iPhone SE doesn’t support.

We think the iPhone SE 3 will address that deficiency by introducing a night mode to the camera features that Apple includes in its cheaper model. We’re less convinced that a second camera lens will join the main shooter in the iPhone SE 3. First of all, leaks and rumors about the next iPhone haven’t indicated that such an upgrade is in the works. Second, another camera would surely increase the cost of the iPhone.

iPhone SE 3 vs. Google Pixel 5a: Performance and 5G

The iPhone SE 3 should hold the edge over the Pixel 5a in the performance department, especially if Apple follows the pattern established with previous iPhone SE releases. Typically, a new iPhone SE features the same chipset as the flagships Apple introduced last fall. For the 2020 iPhone SE, that meant the A13 Bionic that powered the iPhone 11. In the case of the iPhone SE 3, we’re potentially looking at the A15 Bionic chip from the iPhone 13.

pixel 5a (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

If true, that’s great news for anyone buying an iPhone SE 3. The A15 Bionic is the fastest chip we’ve ever tested, outperforming any Android device, and you’ll be able to get all that power in a low-cost Apple. telephone. We certainly expect the iPhone SE 3 to outperform the Pixel 5a and its Snapdragon 765G system-on-chip. While it’s a capable mid-range chipset, it’s no match for top-of-the-line Apple silicon.

The Pixel 5a connects to 5G networks, but only 5G below 6GHz. (However, the device isn’t currently listed among phones that work on the faster C-band 5G networks that AT&T and Verizon have launched.) While this gave the Pixel 5a an edge over the 2020 iPhone SE, that seems to go away once the iPhone SE 3 arrives. All that phone is rseason ofmethree is to add 5G support to the lower end of Apple’s iPhone lineup.

iPhone SE 3 vs. Google Pixel 5a: battery life and charging

Battery life is one area you expect the iPhone SE or Pixel A series devices to excel at. The current iPhone SE had a below-average time in our battery test, in which we calculated the time it takes for a phone that has been continuously browsing the web via cellular to drain. The Pixel 5a fared slightly better, thanks to a 4,680mAh battery. That helped Google’s phone last 9 hours and 45 minutes, which is in line with the average for a smartphone.

pixel 5a (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

Can the iPhone SE 3 do better? We won’t know until the phone comes out and we have more details about its energy efficiency. Given the compact size of the SE, it’s unlikely that Apple will be able to squeeze much more than the 1,821mAh power pack inside the current iPhone SE. However, given the power demands of 5G, Apple will have to do something. After all, increasing the size of the batteries in the iPhone 13 helped those phones perform better than their iPhone 12 counterparts.

With support for 18W charging speeds, the Pixel 5a isn’t exactly a speed demon when it comes to recharging the battery, although we wouldn’t expect the iPhone SE 3 to present much of a challenge here. The current iPhone SE also supports 18W charging, and we don’t expect Apple to improve on that with the follow-up model. However, the iPhone SE does support wireless charging, a feature that’s missing from the Pixel 5a.

iPhone SE 3 vs. Google Pixel 5a: software and special features

Because Google makes both the phone and the software that powers it, the Pixel 5a doesn’t have to wait long for software updates like other Android phones do. That’s why the Pixel 5a runs Android 12, even though its own release predates the arrival of Google’s updated phone software. Pixel 5a owners can count on three years of software updates.

iPhone SE 3 Concept Design (Image credit: 4RMD)

The iPhone SE 3 will run the latest version of Apple’s phone software when it arrives, iOS 15 in this case. We expect software support to continue for some time. The original iPhone SE, which came out six years ago, can also run iOS 15, though it lacks support for more processor-intensive features.

iPhone SE 3 frente a Google Pixel 5a: Outlook

Until the iPhone SE 3 actually debuts this spring, we can’t fully compare the two phones. Even then, a contest between the iPhone SE 3 and the Google Pixel 5a could be short-lived, as Google could push the Pixel 6a’s launch forward to spring this year instead of late summer.

Still, looking at what Apple and Google have to offer the cheaper side of the phone market is always illuminating, particularly when it comes to how the phones’ respective cameras compare. That, and how much the iPhone SE 3 ultimately costs, will go a long way in deciding which phone maker is the king of budget devices.

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