Pixel 8A vs. iPhone SE: Google's and Apple's Budget-Friendly Phones Compared

Here's how Google's new budget-friendly phone, the Pixel 8A, stacks up against the iPhone SE 2022.

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
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Sareena Dayaram
4 min read
Google's Pixel 8A mobile phone

The Pixel 8A mostly has a pastel color palette.

James Martin/CNET

Google just announced the $500 Pixel 8A, which inherits some of the higher-end Pixel 8's features like the Tensor G3 chip, certain AI software tools and a brighter screen. At that price, it's a worthy rival to Apple's $429 iPhone SE from 2022. But aside from their Android and iOS software, there are some critical differences, such as the Pixel 8A's cameras and AI features as well as the iPhone SE's small screen and retro design.

In a nutshell, the iPhone SE 2022 offers an old-meets-new package, while the Pixel 8A has more of the trappings of a modern budget-friendly phone in 2024. Both Google and Apple, however, are trickling down features from their premium flagship lineups into the Pixel 8A and iPhone SE 2022, their budget-friendly offerings.

Read more: Best Phone for 2024

It's also worth pointing out that the third-gen iPhone SE is now a 2-year-old model, given its release in 2022. Since then, Apple hasn't launched a new iPhone SE and it's unclear whether it'll ever do so again. However, a 2024 iPhone SE launch would fit the schedule Apple has followed in recent years. 

For more of the nitty-gritty details, you can scroll down to our specs chart at the bottom of this page.

The Google Pixel 8A Looks Slick in All These Colors

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Design and display

The iPhone SE 2022 has a stark difference in design compared to the contemporary Pixel 8A. The iPhone SE 2022 has a small screen of 4.7-inch LCD bordered by thick bezels, giving it a "traditional" look. That style has become uncommon as makers opt for designs that deliver on a modern aesthetic complete with displays that expand nearly edge to edge and with physical buttons that appear on the sides of the device rather than the front. 

The Pixel 8A had a contemporary style with thinner bezels and a larger screen. It has a larger, 6.1-inch OLED screen, and it's also crisper with 430 pixels per inch compared to 326 pixels per inch on the SE 2022.

2022 iPhone SE held in a hand and set to the Home screen: There are 24 apps and a small window for the weather.

Notice the starkly different design the iPhone SE 2022 has compared to the Pixel 8A

Kevin Heinz/CNET


Another key difference definitely worth considering is the cameras, in terms of quantity as well as resolution. The Pixel 8A has three cameras, while the iPhone SE has two. The Pixel 8A features a 64-megapixel main lens and a 13-megapixel ultra-wide lens rounded off with a 12-megapixel selfie camera. The iPhone SE has a 12-megapixel wide lens and a 7-megapixel front-facing camera.

Software support

One of the biggest upgrades to the Pixel 8A is its extended software support. The Pixel 8A gets seven years of Android OS upgrades and seven years of security updates, which is the same coverage period as Google's fancy flagship lineup, the Pixel 8. This also represents a significant step up from the three years of Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates on the Pixel 7A.

While Apple doesn't explicitly state its software upgrade policy, the iPhone maker typically supports software updates for at least five years based on its history. The iOS 17 update, Apple's latest mobile operating system, works on the iPhone XS, which came out in 2018. As for the iPhone SE 2022, it can run iOS 17 and it's expected to support future software updates until 2025, at least.

iPhone SE (2022): Apple's Cheaper Phone Brings 5G to a Classic Design

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AI features

The Pixel 8A gets a range of new AI features, all of which are already available on the higher-end Pixel 8 series. This means the Pixel 8A can run Google's Gemini Nano AI model, as well as take advantage of buzzy photo-editing tools such as Best Take and Magic Eraser, among others. Google kicked off something of a generative AI arms race late last year, debuting a series of AI-powered features on its Pixel 8 series, including photo-editing tools such as Best Take that uses AI to change facial expressions on pictures.

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The iPhone SE 2022 doesn't have generative AI features in the same vein as Google, although it has long used AI to enhance its photos among other features. However, this could change in several months' time, given that Apple is reported to debut iOS 18 at its annual developer conference in June. According to Bloomberg, iOS 18 could bring "relatively groundbreaking" updates to the iPhone complete with "major new features and designs." Much of that change is expected to be centered around AI and generative AI. 

Read More: Google's Pixel 8A Arrives With a Bigger Dose of AI


Both Apple and Google have focused on delivering top-notch processing power as each seeks to deliver a premium phone experience at a more affordable price. The iPhone SE 2022 runs on the A15 Bionic chipset, which is the same processor inside 2022's iPhone 13, or Apple's most advanced processor at the time of release. The Pixel 8A runs on Google Tensor G3 chipset, the same one that powers Google's flagship Pixel 8 series.

Watch this: Google's Pixel 8A Is Here: What's New and Different

Overall thoughts

The Pixel 8A and iPhone SE 2022 bring different things to the table, even if the approach of packing high-end features into an affordable device is similar. The Pixel 8A has the appeal of a modern budget-friendly phone given its larger and sharper screen, more extensive camera setup and its contemporary features complete with AI tools such as Audio Magic Eraser and Best Take.

The iPhone SE 2022, meanwhile, has a fast processor and dependable cameras packaged into an old-school design with a small screen. While it's about $70 cheaper than the Pixel 8A, you're giving up on some things for that lower price. One of the key factors to consider is that the iPhone 2022 is now two years old, which means, among other considerations, a potentially shorter time frame for the phone to receive updates in the future. 

Google Pixel 8A vs. iPhone SE 2022

Google Pixel 8AApple iPhone SE (2022)
Display size, tech, resolution, refresh rate 6.1-inch OLED; 2,400 x 1,080 pixels; 60-120Hz adaptive refresh rate4.7-inch LCD; (1,334x750 pixels); 60 Hz
Pixel density 430 ppi326 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 6.0 x 2.9 x 0.4 in5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 in
Dimensions (millimeters) 152.1 x 72.7 x 8.9 mm138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
Weight (grams, ounces) 188g (6.63 oz.)144g (5.09 oz)
Mobile software Android 14iOS 15
Camera 64-megapixel (wide), 13-megapixel (ultrawide)12-megapixel (wide)
Front-facing camera 13-megapixel 7-megapixel
Video capture 4K4K
Processor Tensor G3Apple A15 Bionic
RAM/storage 8GB of RAM + 128GB, 256GB(RAM undisclosed) + 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Expandable storage NoneNone
Battery 4,404 mAhBattery sized not disclosed (charger not included; supports wireless charging)
Fingerprint sensor Under displayHome button
Connector USB-CLightning
Headphone jack NoneNone
Special features 5G (5G sub6 / mmWave), IP67 rating, VPN by Google One, Circle to Search, 7 years of Android OS, & updates, IP67 rating, Dual sim, 2000 nits peak brightness, AI features: Best Take, Magic Editor, Magic Eraser, 18W fast charging, 7.5W wireless charging5G-enabled; supports 25W wired fast charging; Water resistant (IP67); dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); wireless charging
Price (at launch) $499$429 (64GB), $479 (128GB), $579 (256GB)
Price £499£419 (64GB), £469 (128GB), £569 (256GB)
Price AU$849AU$749 (64GB), AU$829 (128GB), AU$999 (256GB)