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iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 11: Which cheap iPhone should you buy?

composite image of iphone se 2022 and iphone11
(Image credit: Apple / Tom's Guide)

Update: Our iPhone SE 2022 review is live. Check it out.

In this iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 11 face-off, we'll look at how these two phones stack up despite the large gap in age.  Even though the iPhone SE is brand new and the iPhone 11 is approaching its third birthday, this comparison is worthwhile because these are the only two handsets in Apple's lineup that are under $500. 

The iPhone SE (2022) boasts a notable upgrade over the 11 — 5G support. But the iPhone 11 has some features the new iPhone SE lacks, including a larger screen and dual rear cameras.

And with such similar prices — $429 vs. $499 — you might be left wondering which Apple phone you should buy. That all comes down to how important 5G is to you, because otherwise, the iPhone 11 might be the better buy among Apple's cheapest devices.

Read on for our iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 11 comparison to see which cheap iPhone is best for you. 

iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 11: Specs

iPhone SE (2022)iPhone 11
Starting price$429$499
Display4.7-inch LCD (1344 x 750)6.1-inch LCD (1792 x 828)
CPUA15 BionicA13 Bionic
Storage64GB, 128GB, 256GB64GB, 128GB
Rear cameras12MP (f/1.8)12MP (f/1.8) main, 12MP (f/2.4) ultrawide
Front camera7MP (f/2.2)12MP (f/2.2)
Size5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches5.94 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches
Weight5 ounces6.8 ounces
ColorsMidnight, Starlight, (PRODUCT)REDBlack, white, purple, green, yellow, PRODUCT(RED)

iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 11: Price and availability

The iPhone SE (2022) is available to pre-order before shipping on March 18. It starts at $429 for the 64GB model, then goes up to $479 for the 128GB and $579 for the 256GB variants. Our guide on how to pre-order the iPhone SE (2022) includes some deals for the new device.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 11 came out in 2019 and is available for $499 for the 64GB model. You can bump up the storage to 128GB for a total cost of $549.

iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 11: Design and display

The iPhone SE (2022) and iPhone 11 share one similarity: they both use LCDs for their screens. Other than that, they are very different in basically every other regard. The iPhone SE (2022) uses the iPhone 8 body, just like the iPhone SE (2020) did. 

iphone se 2022 render on a blue background

(Image credit: Apple)

That means the new SE sports a 4.7-inch display with a total resolution of 1334 x 750. Surrounding it are the hefty, old school iPhone bezels. That means there's also room for the Touch ID home button. Even though face masks have become less prevalent in recent months, Touch ID is still welcome — even though the imminent iOS 15.4 will bring face mask support for Face ID.

Among the best cheap phones, the iPhone SE (2022) will stand out with its glass and aluminum construction. Whereas most budget-friendly handsets use plastic build materials, the new SE will sport a more premium feel in black, white, or red.

iPhone 11

(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 11 has a 6.1-inch LCD with a total resolution of 1792 x 828. That's a slightly higher resolution than the iPhone SE (2022) with total of 326 pixels per inch (ppi) which is the same as the SE. But at 6.1 inches, the iPhone 11 will be much more legible, especially if you have vision trouble.

Instead of Touch ID, you get the older version of the Face ID notch on the iPhone 11. But otherwise, the iPhone 11 features a near all-screen design that looks quite nice. And you have a few colors to choose from: green, white, purple, yellow, black, and red.

iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 11: Cameras

This is another area where the iPhone SE (2022) and iPhone 11 are very different. The former has a single 12MP rear camera and a 7MP front-facing sensor. While we're still evaluating the SE's picture-taking prowess, we know the iPhone 11, with its 12MP main and 12MP ultrawide cameras, captures some nice images.

iphone se 2020 with iphone 11

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Another major advantage for the iPhone 11 is that it has Night mode, which the iPhone SE (2022) lacks. We don't really know why Apple didn't include Night mode since the SE runs on the latest (and very powerful) A15 Bionic chip.

Apple iPhone SE (2022) color lineup on a red background

(Image credit: Apple)

Around front, the iPhone 11 features a 12MP camera nestled in its notch. It takes good selfies that do pretty well with white balance and exposure control. We don't doubt that the iPhone SE (2022)'s 7MP shooter will do fine, but we think the iPhone 11 will come out ahead for selfies and video calls.

For video, both iPhones can record up to 4K at 60 fps. We expect both phones will record similarly high-quality video.

iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 11: Specs and performance

The iPhone 11 came out in 2019, when its A13 Bionic chipset was top of its class. The new king of the block is the A15 Bionic, which powers both the iPhone SE (2022) and iPhone 13. This 5nm A15 is the most powerful mobile processor we've ever tested, and the iPhone SE (2022) will enjoy a generous lead over the iPhone 11 in terms of raw compute and graphics power.

Images from the iPhone SE 3 reveal

(Image credit: Apple)

The A15 Bionic features the 16-core Neural Engine, allowing the iPhone SE (2022) to take advantage of the latest machine learning applications in iOS 15 like Live Text. The iPhone 11 can still do a lot, but the iPhone SE (2022) will be the clear winner in this regard. 

However, in terms of day-to-day performance, the iPhone 11 is more than fine even by today's standards. It easily keeps pace with similarly-priced Android phones, so you will be missing out on very little if you go with the iPhone 11 over the new SE.

iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 11: Software

The good news here is that the iPhone SE (2022) and iPhone 11 have basically a level playing field when it comes to software. Both phones run iOS 15 and the 11 enjoys most of the latest features (most of which require an A12 Bionic and above). The one major exception is Photographic Styles, which are only present on the A15-powered iPhones like the new SE.

iOS 15.4 update adds face mask support to face id unlocking

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Photographic Styles are basically real-time filters that automatically adjust themselves based on your photographing conditions. They help add a personal flair to your photos and they're pretty neat.

Since the iPhone 11 is still well in its support window, it'll get iOS 16 later this year alongside the iPhone SE (2022). We're not sure if there will be new features in the next version that the iPhone 11 can't take advantage of, but at time of writing, both the 11 and new SE are pretty much the same software-wise. 

Since the iPhone 11 doesn't have 5G, it misses out on iOS 15's 5G-specific enhancements, but those are pretty minor.

iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 11: Outlook

iPhone 11 in water

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In this iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 11 face-off, it's pretty clear that it's hard to go wrong with either phone. Based on what we know so far without directly comparing the two devices, we think the iPhone 11 is good enough for most people, especially those who care more about their photos than 5G.

That said, if you want the best performance you can get for your money, then the iPhone SE (2022) is the way to go. The A15 Bionic is very powerful chip and the fact that the SE has many of the iPhone 13's best features is great, especially for the phone's $429 asking price. But if the small 4.7-inch display puts you off, then we strongly recommend you go with the 6.1-inch iPhone 11.

Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over five years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.