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Google Pixel 8a vs iPhone SE (2022): Which one is the better buy?

Google's smartphone gets even better, but Apple's in no hurry to keep up.
By

Published onMay 7, 2024

Google Pixel 8a
MSRP: $499.00
Check price
Positives
Fingerprint-proof matte finish
Rich OLED display
Tons of Tensor G3-powered features
Solid battery life
Unrivaled software update commitment
Pixel-pedigree cameras
Negatives
Cheap materials
Limited zoom capabilities
Slow wired and wireless charging
Pixel 8 discounts make it a harder sell
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
MSRP: $429.00
Check price
Positives
A15 Bionic chipset
Touch ID
Improved battery life
Negatives
Extremely dated design
Cramped, low-res display
Inflexible camera
iPhone SE ear piece and selfie camera - Best budget camera phones
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Google Pixel 8a vs iPhone SE: At a glance

  • The Pixel 8a launched in May 2024. The iPhone SE hasn’t seen a refresh since 2022.
  • The iPhone SE is $70 cheaper than the Pixel 8a. However, Apple only includes 64GB of storage in the base model.
  • The iPhone SE is significantly smaller and lighter than the Pixel 8a.
  • The Pixel 8a’s full glass front means that it offers a significantly larger 6.1-inch display vs the iPhone SE’s 4.7-inch screen. Apple’s affordable smartphone also hasn’t made the move to OLED display tech yet.
  • While both phones have front-mounted fingerprint readers, only the Pixel 8a’s sensor sits under the display. Google's phone is the only one to offer facial recognition.
  • The Pixel 8a is slightly more performant, thanks to the inclusion of Google’s latest Tensor G3 SoC vs the iPhone SE’s last-gen A15 Bionic.
  • Thanks to its later release date, Google’s mid-range phone may receive software support for slightly longer than the iPhone SE.
  • The Pixel 8a has a more versatile camera array with two rear sensors. The iPhone lacks an ultrawide shooter and has a smaller primary sensor.

Google Pixel 8a vs iPhone SE: Specs

Google Pixel 8aiPhone SE (2022)
Display
Google Pixel 8a
6.1-inch OLED
120Hz refresh rate
2400 x 1080 resolution
20:9 aspect ratio
iPhone SE (2022)
4.7-inch LCD
60Hz refresh rate
1,334 x 750 resolution
16:9 ratio
Processor
Google Pixel 8a
Google Tensor G3
iPhone SE (2022)
Apple A15 Bionic
RAM
Google Pixel 8a
8GB
iPhone SE (2022)
4GB
Storage
Google Pixel 8a
128/256GB
iPhone SE (2022)
64/128/256GB
Battery
Google Pixel 8a
4.492mAh
18W wired charging
7.5W wireless charging
No charger included
iPhone SE (2022)
~2,018mAh
18W wired charging (Lightning port)
7.5W wireless charging
Cameras
Google Pixel 8a
Rear:
64MP wide camera
ƒ/1.89 aperture
OIS + EIS

13MP ultra-wide camera, 120deg FoV
ƒ/2.2 aperture

Front:
13MP (f/2.2)

iPhone SE (2022)
Rear:
12MP (f/1.8)

Front:
7MP (f/2.2)
Connectivity
Google Pixel 8a
5G
4G LTE
Wi-Fi 6e
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC
iPhone SE (2022)
5G
4G LTE
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC
Operating System
Google Pixel 8a
Pixel UI
Android 14
iPhone SE (2022)
Apple iOS
Water resistance
Google Pixel 8a
IP67
iPhone SE (2022)
IP67
Colors
Google Pixel 8a
Aloe, Bay, Obsidian, Porcelain
iPhone SE (2022)
Starlight
Midnight
Product Red
Dimension and weight
Google Pixel 8a
152.4 x 73.7 x 10.1mm
192.8 grams
iPhone SE (2022)
138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm
144g

Google Pixel 8a vs iPhone SE: Price and availability

Pixel 8a Part Breakdown
Google
  • iPhone SE (64GB): $429
  • iPhone SE (128GB): $479
  • Google Pixel 8a (128GB): $499
  • Google Pixel 8a (256GB): $559

Apple first began selling the iPhone SE in March 2022 and it’s still on store shelves as the company’s most affordable smartphone. At its starting price of $429, it may seem like a bargain compared the Pixel 8a, which starts at $499. However, it’s worth noting that the base iPhone SE model only offers 64GB of storage vs the Pixel 8a’s 128GB.

Luckily, the iPhone SE is available in a 128GB variant for just $50 more. That’s still cheaper than Google’s offering, but the value comparison isn’t quite straightforward when you consider the Pixel 8a’s extra features — more on that in the next section.

You can buy the iPhone SE at Apple Stores and from various retailers and carrier stores worldwide. Meanwhile, the Pixel 8a is now available for pre-order and will go on general sale starting May 14, 2024 in North America, the UK, and Europe.

See price at Amazon
Google Pixel 8a
Google Pixel 8a
Rich OLED display
Tons of Tensor G3-powered features
Pixel-pedigree cameras
See price at Amazon
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Guaranteed long-term software updates
Improved battery life
Powerful A15 Bionic chipset

Google Pixel 8a vs iPhone SE: Which should you buy?

iphone se rear upright - Best budget camera phones
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

While the Pixel 8a and the iPhone SE are both mid-range phones, only Google diligently updates its lineup with the latest specs each year. The iPhone SE, on the other hand, hasn’t seen a refresh since 2022 and reuses the older iPhone 8 design. While this continuation is good for those familiar with legacy features like Touch ID, it’s a bit long in the tooth now. By comparison, the Pixel 8a looks almost indistinguishable from Google’s current-gen Pixel 8 at first glance. The only differences are the smaller size, plastic back, and slightly larger bezels.

The Pixel 8a’s full glass front also means you get a much larger 6.1-inch display compared to the iPhone SE’s 4.7-inch screen. The Pixel’s display also has the leg up in supplementary features like a 120Hz refresh rate, FHD+ resolution, HDR support, and up to 2,000 nits peak brightness. And given that the Pixel 8a has an OLED panel instead of the iPhone SE’s LCD, it’s also very close to matching the quality of the mainline Pixel 8 or iPhone 15.

The Pixel 8a's OLED screen is much closer to the mainline iPhone series than the SE's LCD.

Given that the iPhone SE hasn’t seen a refresh in two years now, it also stands to reason that the Pixel 8a will run circles around it in terms of performance. While the iPhone SE won’t buckle under daily tasks, it will fall behind the Pixel 8a in multitasking or demanding tasks. The SE’s 4GB RAM is also half as much as the Pixel 8a, although Apple’s iOS optimizations mean that it won’t be as wide of a gap as the numbers suggest.

Google’s triumph continues in the camera department. The iPhone SE has just one rear sensor, which is rare enough for a phone these days, but the hardware also hasn’t been updated since 2020. The Pixel 8a, meanwhile, has a larger sensor and supports Google’s suite of AI-assisted photography features such as Real Tone and Best Take. The Pixel 8a also packs an ultrawide lens for when you need to fit more of the scene. Finally, it’s worth noting that Apple hasn’t brought Night Mode to the iPhone SE yet, even though it has become a staple on smartphones for at least half a decade.

Pixel 8a Obsidian Lifestyle
Google

The 2,018mAh cell in the iPhone SE is quite small by modern standards but it should still get you through most days. This is thanks to its smaller display and various iOS software optimizations. The Pixel 8a’s 4,500mAh battery is unlikely to outlast it, especially if you use features like always-on display.

That said, both smartphones are neck and neck when it comes to wired and wireless charging speeds. The iPhone SE’s smaller battery means that it can fill up within an hour while the Pixel 8a will take nearly twice as long. The two phones are also more or less equal in terms of durability, with IP67 water resistance on offer. That said, you’ll have to contend with a glass back on the iPhone SE vs the Pixel 8a’s matte plastic rear.

The iPhone SE's lackluster specs are held together by Apple's superb iOS optimization.

All in all, the Pixel 8a offers better value in terms of hardware and features. The OLED display, modern chipset, Google’s promise of seven years of software updates, and more capable camera array all add up to make a very compelling package.

The iPhone SE delivers a decent core smartphone experience but it’s admittedly a bit lacking in the value department. It may still be worth considering in its current iteration if you’re deeply entrenched in Apple’s ecosystem with other devices like an iPad, AirPods, or Mac. Even then, most of them can be used in conjunction with an Android smartphone. Just keep in mind that some exceptions like the AirTag and Apple Watch do exist and will not work with an Android smartphone.

Which would you rather buy, the Pixel 8a or iPhone SE (2022)?

48 votes

Google Pixel 8a vs iPhone SE: FAQ

The Pixel 8a offers a more complete hardware package and feature-set compared to the iPhone SE. While it does retail for considerably more than Apple’s affordable smartphone, the Pixel 8a’s starting price includes double the base storage.

Yes, to an extent — both the Pixel 8a and iPhone SE (2022) have an IP67 water resistance rating and can handle incidental splashes or light rain.

The iPhone SE line hasn’t seen a refresh in over two years and rumors indicate that a successor won’t release until sometime in 2025. So if you want an iOS phone on a limited budget, the iPhone SE (2022) is your best choice for now.

Yes, both the Pixel 8a and iPhone SE (2022) support eSIM even though it’s a rare feature on sub-$500 smartphones.

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