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iPhone 13 vs iPhone SE 2020: What’s the difference?

Phone advice | by Denise Timmis | May 31, 2022

iPhone 13 vs iPhone SE 2020: What’s the difference?

Pocket-sized screen or superior battery life? Affordability or camera capability? These are the big questions when weighing up the iPhone SE and iPhone 13. But before you decide, you’ll want to know the facts. That’s why we’ve created a guide to each handset, comparing and contrasting functionality as we go. By the end, hopefully you’ll be in a better position to decide what’s best for you.

Related blog: Apple Flip: What We Know So Far

Size and design

It’s chalk and cheese when it comes to displays. The iPhone 13 sports sleek rear glass and sharp corners, whereas the iPhone SE has angular edges and a 2.5D cover. Both are equally desirable—so it comes down to taste. Personally, we like the former’s space-age aesthetic.

Size-wise, the 13 is a giant compared to the compact SE, measuring 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65mm (the SE is 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm). With its rounded body and lighter build (around 27g less), the SE is arguably much easier to use with one hand.

Phone access varies on both handsets too. The iPhone 13 has a Face ID sensor, while the SE features Touch ID below the screen. The newer model did away with the Touch ID to reduce the notch and increase screen space.

Lastly, the iPhone 13 boasts an upgraded IP68 rating and a Ceramic shield front. Compared to the SE’s IP67 mark and glass exterior, the 13 provides more protection against water damage and accidents.


iPhone SE vs iPhone 13 dimensions: 


iPhone SE

iPhone 13





















Verdict: The iPhone 13’s glorious screen and added protection make this one an easy decision.



As we've already mentioned, the iPhone 13 boasts a much bigger display. It’s 6.1-inches and has an OLED panel that provides better colour accuracy, crispness, and brightness than the SE’s 4.7-inch IPS LCD screen. The iPhone 13 also features a sharper 2532x1170 screen and a superior pixel density of 460 ppi, promising enhanced screen performance. In truth, it beats the SE on all fronts where clarity is concerned. Elsewhere, both screens refresh at a rate of 60Hz and offer a smooth scrolling experience.


iPhone SE vs iPhone 13 display comparison:

iPhone SE display:

  • Retina HD display
  • 4.7-inch (diagonal) widescreen LCD with IPS technology
  • 1334x750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi
  • 1,400:1 contrast ratio (typical)
  • True Tone display
  • Wide colour display (P3)
  • Haptic Touch
  • 625 nits max brightness (typical)

iPhone 13 display:

  • Super Retina XDR display
  • 6.1-inch (diagonal) all-screen OLED display
  • HDR display
  • 2532x1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi
  • 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio (typical)
  • True Tone display
  • Wide colour display (P3)
  • Haptic Touch
  • 800 nits max brightness (typical)
  • 1,200 nits max brightness (HDR)

Verdict: Big display. Bigger performance. The 13 clinches it.


Camera and photography

First up, let’s talk lenses. Although both handsets feature a rear 12MP Wide Sensor, the 13 outshines the SE’s one shooter with an additional 120-degree Ultra Wide lens. Unlike the SE, this Ultra Wide lens can take sweeping landscape shots.

The 13’s two cameras also perform better in low-light conditions with an improved aperture range and dedicated Night Mode. Up top, the iPhone 13’s TrueDepth front camera is 12MP, offering sharper selfies and video calls compared to the SE’s 7MP FaceTime HD lens. Though, in the grand scheme of things, 7MP is still pretty impressive.

The iPhone 13’s sensor-shift system upgrades the SE’s OIS functionality, resulting in precise, steady snaps. An upgraded A15 Bionic chip (the SE has an A13 Chip) delivers powerful processing and enables a superior SMART HDR system for impressive range and richer hues.

Keen videographers will love the iPhone 13’s Cinematic Mode. Unavailable on the SE, this nifty function allows users to focus on a subject as they enter the shot. It can also switch subject focus between foreground and background during a video.


iPhone SE vs iPhone 13 camera comparison:


iPhone SE

iPhone 13


12 MP, f/1.8 (wide), PDAF, OIS

 12 MP, f/1.6, 26mm (wide), 1.7µm, dual pixel PDAF, sensor-shift OIS
12 MP, f/2.4, 120˚, 13mm (ultrawide


Quad-LED dual-tone flash, HDR, panorama

Dual-LED dual-tone flash, HDR (photo/panorama)


4K@24/30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, HDR, OIS, stereo sound rec.

. 4K@24/30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/120/240fps, HDR, Dolby Vision HDR (up to 60fps), stereo sound rec.

Verdict: No contest. The iPhone 13 steals the show.


Specs and performance

The iPhone SE provides decent processing speeds and is by no means slow. However, the iPhone 13’s advanced A15 chip and larger 4GB RAM results in lightning-fast loading when switching between applications.

The iPhone 13 also boasts superior storage, with 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB options. Another win for the iPhone 13 is its excellent battery life. At 3240mAh, it is ready to handle intensive all-day use, while the SE’s 1821mAh battery may need frequent top ups depending on how much you use your phone.

Both phones support fast charging, which should boost your battery up to 50% within 30 mins. You can also wirelessly charge with either device—a welcome addition to a handset in the iPhone SE’s price range.


iPhone SE vs iPhone 13 performance comparison:


iPhone SE

iPhone 13


Apple A13 Bionic (7 nm+)

Apple A15 Bionic (5 nm)


Hexa-core (2x2.65 GHz Lightning + 4x1.8 GHz Thunder)

Hexa-core (2x3.23 GHz Avalanche + 4x1.82 GHz Blizzard)


Apple GPU (4-core graphics)

Apple GPU (4-core graphics)

Battery type 

Li-Ion 1821 mAh, non-removable (6.91 Wh)

Li-Ion 3240 mAh, non-removable (12.41 Wh)


Fast charging 18W, 50% in 30 min (advertised)
Qi wireless charging 7.5W

Fast charging (23W, unofficial rating), 50% in 30 min (advertised)
USB Power Delivery 2.0
MagSafe wireless charging 15W
Qi magnetic fast wireless charging 7.5W

Verdict: The iPhone 13 has the power this time.


Conclusion: iPhone 13 vs iPhone SE

It’s decision time. And we think this is relatively straightforward. If you need a phone with superior camera performance, quick processing speeds, and long-lasting battery life, the iPhone 13 is the clear winner. If, however, you’re on the hunt for an affordable handset for casual, everyday use—the iPhone SE is a great option.

Whichever phone you pick, refurbished iPhone handsets are available from Envirofone for a fraction of retail prices. Better still, you can save more money by selling your iPhone and putting the cash towards your next handset.

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