The iPhone 11 Pro is undoubtedly the king of Apple’s iPhone lineup thanks to its three rear cameras, all-day battery life and high-resolution OLED screen. But it commands a steep price, starting at $999 (£1,049, AU$1,749).
With so many new iPhones out there, including the $699 iPhone 11 and the $399 iPhone SE, you may be wondering which one to choose.
I wanted to compare Apple’s flagship to the budget iPhone to see what difference that $600 makes.
iPhone SE 2020
iPhone 11 Pro power in an iPhone 8 body
While the iPhone SE may look like an older iPhone on the outside, don’t be fooled. Paired with the same A13 Bionic chip found on the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, it offers great performance and a very capable camera for an entry-level price of $399.
The battery won’t last as long as the more expensive phone, but Apple has made some smart trade-offs to keep the price low. Read our Apple iPhone SE (2020) review.
$399 at Apple | $399 at Amazon | $400 at Best Buy
Also Read Apple launch Most Awaited iPhone SE 2020 in India
iPhone 11 Pro
Apple’s best iPhone for a reason
With a sleek stainless-steel chassis, great battery life and a high-resolution OLED display, the iPhone 11 Pro really does feel deserving of the “Pro” label. It’s the most robust iPhone you can buy and has three rear cameras that give you flexibility from ultrawide through to telephoto.
There’s also the option of bumping up the screen size from 5.8 inches to 6.5 if you choose the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and you also get a larger 512GB storage option at the top end, whereas the iPhone SE taps out at 256GB. Read our Apple iPhone 11 Pro review.
$999 at Apple | $999 at Amazon | $1,000 at Best Buy
iPhone SE is the most compact, while the 11 Pro is extremely durable
With a 4.7-inch screen, the iPhone SE shares the same overall design as the iPhone 8. That means the home button is back! Or, it never went away if you’re upgrading from something like the iPhone 6 or 7. The iPhone 11 Pro has a 5.8-inch screen and sports the newer iPhone design without a home button.
The iPhone SE has an aluminum frame, while the iPhone 11 Pro is made of stainless steel.
All of Apple’s phones are covered in custom glass on the front and back, made by Corning, and Apple claims the iPhone 11 Pro has the most durable glass of all.
Both phones also offer water resistance, although to slightly different degrees: the iPhone SE is rated IP67, which means it can reach a maximum depth of 1 meter (3 feet) for up to 30 minutes, while the iPhone 11 Pro is IP68, or 4 meters (13 feet) for the same time. But in my extreme water test, I found the iPhone 11 Pro survived much deeper water than Apple claims, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the iPhone SE also outlived its rating.
Winner: The 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro hits the size sweet spot for me, even though the iPhone SE is easier for one-handed use.
The iPhone 11 Pro has that gorgeous OLED display
The iPhone SE has an LCD liquid retina display, while the 11 Pro has an OLED Super Retina XDR display. There’s no question that the 11 Pro’s screen looks gorgeous thanks to a contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1 and HDR support. Its OLED tech is able to produce deeper black levels than the LCD on the iPhone SE.
Winner: It’s hard to compete with the iPhone 11 Pro’s OLED display.
Touch ID vs. Face ID: Home button or facial recognition?
After using the new iPhone SE for several weeks, I count myself among the many people who prefer using a fingerprint to unlock their phone. Face ID is solid, but has limitations despite becoming more responsive as time goes on. Touch ID just works better for me in a lot of situations.
Face ID struggles to recognize me first thing in the morning after I roll out of bed — maybe I look drastically different in the a.m., but I honestly don’t think I do. (It’s also incompatible with face masks.) Switching to the iPhone SE and using my fingerprint to unlock my phone always works.
Winner: iPhone SE for seamless Touch ID.
The iPhone 11 Pro has three rear cameras, but do you need them?
There are three rear cameras on the iPhone 11 Pro: ultrawide-angle, wide and 2x telephoto. The iPhone SE has a single, wide rear camera.
But as I found when looking at photos from both side-by-side, the difference was not as dramatic as I was expecting.
The main cameras on both phones use Smart HDR to even out shadow and highlight detail.
The iPhone 11 Pro produced images with greater dynamic range in challenging lighting conditions, but on some shots, it was hard to tell them apart in terms of color and overall processing.
You can see the difference Deep Fusion makes when looking at the same photo on the SE and 11 Pro at full magnification
— see the photo of the orchid below.
Take a look at the 100% crop (inset) showing the effect of Deep Fusion on the iPhone 11 Pro compared to the iPhone SE
Winner: iPhone 11 Pro if you want different cameras and night mode.