iPhone SE vs 8: Similar looks, not so similar performance

They may look the same, but there are actually a lot of differences between the iPhone SE vs iPhone 8

iPhone 8 vs SE

iPhone SE vs iPhone 8: What you need to know

Ah, the home button—for some iPhone users, it feels like, well, home. If you’re looking for an iPhone but feel lost without that reliable little orb that gets you out of all kinds of jams, chances are you’re checking out the iPhone SE (2nd generation) or the iPhone 8.

Both phones have that hard-to-find home button with a Touch ID fingerprint reader that unlocks the phone and authorizes payments. They also feature the same exact dimensions and identical slim profiles, an aluminum body, IP67 water protection, and a 4.7-inch LCD display. In other words, they have a lot in common.

However, the iPhone SE and the iPhone 8 also harbor some important differences; it just takes a quick look under the hood to see what they are. We’ve mapped them all out for you here, so all you need to do is some soul-searching about what you really want in a phone, and leave the rest up to us.

Want to see a specs comparison of the iPhone 8 vs SE? We made an app for that! Compare iPhones here.

iPhone 8 vs SE: A newer powerhouse processor

The most notable difference between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone SE is their processor.

Apple equipped the iPhone SE with the A13 Bionic chip, which is ~40 percent faster and two generations newer than the A11 Bionic chip found in the iPhone 8.

This means a faster, more energy-efficient phone that produces higher-quality photos and graphics, as well as faster app loading times and lickety-split Internet browsing.

While the iPhone 8 is cheaper than the SE, its older processor means it might not be able to handle iOS updates down the road, so the iPhone SE, with its newer chip, may be a better choice in the long run.

With the iPhone 8 vs iPhone SE, you pay for what you get, and what you get with the iPhone SE is an upgraded phone that’s better equipped for the future.

iPhone 8 vs SE: Battery battle

The battery in the iPhone SE may be slightly smaller than the one in the iPhone 8 (1821 mAh vs 1624 mAh), but that’s likely because the SE contains a more energy-efficient chip.

Regardless, the battery life of the two phones is pretty comparable, though some tests have shown the SE to run longer playback times than the iPhone 8 by at least 2 hours. According to Apple, the iPhone 8 and the iPhone SE batteries both have identical video and audio playback battery duration (13 hours and 40 hours, respectively), and are rated for 12 hours of internet usage.

If you’re a lighter iPhone user, either phone should last you a full day without needing to recharge. With that said, if you’re looking for a cheap iPhone with enough juice for heavy everyday use, we suggest checking out the iPhone XR or iPhone 11 instead.

Phone SE vs 8: Camera clarity

The cameras in the iPhone SE vs 8 may seem identical, but there’s definitely more to them than meets the eye.

Both phones have a 12-megapixel rear camera (f/1.8 aperture), a 7-megapixel front-facing shooter (f/2.2 aperture), True Tone flash with Slow Sync, optical image stabilization, and digital zoom up to 5x.

However, Apple took some liberties to upgrade the iPhone SE with Portrait Mode with advanced bokeh and Depth control, as well as Portrait Lighting with six effects in both the rear and front-facing cameras. The SE rear camera also features next-generation Smart HDR to improve highlights and shadows, red-eye correction, and QuickTake for recording video without tapping out of Photo mode.

What does all this mean? Yes, there are a lot of fancy marketing-lingo terms from Apple in that last paragraph, but all this adds up to pictures that have a lot more colors, details, and just feel a lot more lively.

As far as video goes, both the iPhone 8 and iPhone SE feature 4K video recording at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps; 1080p HD video recording at 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps; slo-mo support, and 3x digital zoom, but the SE features dynamic range for 30 fps as well as stereo recording.

While the iPhone 8 still takes passable photos, the iPhone SE produces much higher-quality images and video that are comparable to the iPhone 11, thanks to both its upgraded camera and A13 Bionic chip. No argument about who the winner is here, and in our opinion, the SE is worth paying extra for if you're serious about the quality of your pictures.

iPhone 8 vs SE: The magic touch

Another thing to consider in the iPhone 8 vs iPhone SE comparison is haptics. The iPhone SE features the new Haptic Touch that Apple rolled out in 2018, while the iPhone 8 still has the 3D Touch feature, which has since been discontinued.

The only difference is, Haptic Touch allows you to access additional menu options and commands by long-pressing your finger on the screen, while the 3D Touch, you press hard on the screen to access additional options.

It’s not a huge deal, but it’s definitely worth factoring into the iPhone 8 vs iPhone SE equation.

iPhone 8 vs SE: Little things = mega important

Sometimes it’s really the little things that make all the difference when you’re deciding on an iPhone, so we want to make sure we mention them. First, no iPhone comparison would be complete without mentioning color options! The iPhone 8 is available in silver, space grey, and gold, while the SE comes in black, red, and white.

And if you’re big on big storage, the iPhone SE is available in 256 GB in addition to the 64 and 128 GB storage options available for both phones. Not to mention the iPhone SE also has dual-sim capabilities (nano-SIM and eSIM), which is particularly useful if you travel a lot or have two phones you want to combine into one device.

iPhone 8 vs SE: And the winner is….

The iPhone SE—but only if you’re willing to shell out a little extra cash. With that said, you can find killer deals on a refurbished iPhone SE at Back Market (hi, remember us?).

In our iPhone 8 vs SE comparison, the iPhone SE takes the cake for its newer chip, better camera, and more additional years of iOS updates well into the future. The iPhone 8 may be cheaper now, but we think you’ll find the iPhone SE to be more worth it in the long run.

iPhone SE vs other iPhones

Ok, we talked about how the iPhone SE stacks up against the iPhone 8, but how about comparing it to other similarly-priced iPhones?

Andre from Back Market
By Andre Kopacki, Content Manager

The kind of guy that likes technology a little too much and can't stop talking about it. Good thing I work at Back Market :D

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