The iPhone 12 is Apple’s smartphone standard bearer for 2021, and the phone that will tick the most boxes for the most people. But it’s not for everyone.
As we noted in our review, the iPhone 12 is more expensive than its predecessor the iPhone 11, which was hardly cheap itself. There are some, too, who will lament Apple’s continued move towards ever larger displays.
For those who are operating on a strict budget, or who simply prefer the compact iPhone designs of yesteryear, there’s the iPhone SE (2020). Having launched in the same year as the iPhone 12, it’s scarcely any older, and it’s still being offered as new.
Here’s how this odd smartphone couple match up.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone SE (2020) price and availability
The iPhone 12 landed in shops on October 23, 2020. Prices kicked off at $799 / £799 / AU$1,349 for the 64GB model, and progressed up to $849 / £849 / AU$1,429 for 128GB and $949 / £949 / AU$1,599 for 256GB.
The 64GB iPhone SE 2020 launched on April 24, 2020 for $399 / £419 / AU$749. That price increases to $449 / £469 / AU$829 for 128GB and $549 / £569 / AU$999 for 256GB.
It’s still available as new from Apple, with the only change being a slightly reduced £399 / £449 / £549 price tag for UK customers.
If you were unfamiliar with Apple’s work, you would never guess that these two phones were released in the same year and by the same company. That’s because their designs are from completely different eras.
The iPhone SE (2020) is externally nigh-on identical to the 2017 iPhone 8, which makes it seem dated. When you consider that the basic blueprint for the shape, size and lay-out of this phone was laid down with the 2014 iPhone 6, it seems positively ancient.
Not that the SE feels anything but classy in the hand. With glass to the front and rear and a rounded aluminum chassis, and with Apple’s peerless premium finish, it feels better than any other $399 / £399 smartphone on the market.
The biggest appeal of this design is its compact dimensions. At 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm and 148g, the iPhone SE can be wielded in one hand, and it sits comfortably in even small pockets when not in use.