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Apple doesn’t make budget phones. The closest thing you can find is the iPhone SE–updated roughly every other year and starting at $429. In the Android world, there are lots of budget phones, where a brand new model is $300 or less. They’re not bad, but most people would be happier with something “mid-range,” and that’s where Google’s Pixel a-series phones come in.
Google’s newest budget phone is the Pixel 6a, easily the most comparable thing in the Android world to the iPhone SE: It’s a mid-range phone made by the same company that makes the software ecosystem in which it operates, and with a price of $449 it costs nearly the same. Our sister site TechAdvisor reviewed the Pixel 6a and loved it, saying it “crams in the best bits from the more expensive Pixel 6 and 6 Pro at a very attractive price.” So if you have between $400 and $500 to spend on a phone, which should you pick? Let’s compare the differences.
Apple and Google have very different design philosophies for their mid-range phones. Google tries to make its phone fully modern, mimicking the aesthetic of its more expensive siblings with an edge-to-edge display and under-display fingerprint scanner. The iPhone SE takes a years-old iPhone body, complete with oversized bezels and Touch ID home button, and replaces the insides with the latest iPhone processor. Here’s how the two differ in size and weight:
The Pixel 6a is considerably larger and heavier but has a much larger display at 6.1 inches compared to the paltry 4.7 inches of the iPhone SE. The old Touch ID design and large bezels of the iPhone SE are really holding it back, here: Apple’s newer designs fit a lot more display into a body this size (for example, the iPhone 13 mini is physically smaller but has a much greater screen area). The Pixel 6a is comparable in size, weight, and screen area to a regular iPhone 13.
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