iPhone 7 vs iPhone SE

We put the flagship iPhone 7 up against its budget sibling, the iPhone SE

The iPhone 7 made its debut back in Septembe and the device and its larger brother the iPhone 7 Plus sit at the top of Apple's portfolio as the flagships while the smaller, lower cost iPhone SE is on the bottom rung of the price ladder.

We pit the iPhone 7 against the iPhone SE to see whether splashing the cash really is worth it, or whether you can get the same experience by spending a whole lot less.

Display

iPhone 7: 4.7-inch LED-backlit widescreen, 1334x750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi

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iPhone SE:  4-inch LEDbacklit widescreen, 136x640pixel resolution at 326 ppi

First off, it's worth noting that although the iPhone 7's screen is larger in physical size, its resolution matches the smaller iPhone SE's, meaning you won't lose any quality when watching videos, browsing the internet or of course using your device to call and text.

However, where the iPhone 7 begins to break away and shows its extra cost is screen brightness. It's better suited to bright conditions, which is a big plus if you're using it outside.

The iPhone 7 also features Apple's 3D Touch technology, which also starred on its predecessor, the iPhone 6S, helping users launch applications and shortcuts faster depending on how hard they press on the screen.

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Apple has also packed a larger spectrum of colours into the iPhone 7's screen and its new Taptic Engine, which gives feedback when you use the screen. It's a nice touch, but sometimes gets a little gimmicky.

Design

iPhone 7: 138.3mm x 67.1mm x 7.1mm, 138g

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iPhone SE: 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm, 113g

The iPhone 7's design is almost identical to its predecessor, the iPhone 6S's finish, with rounded edges and the all-metal chassis we've come to expect from Apple.

However, it's more streamlined than the iPhone 6S, because the antenna bands that usually run around the edges of the device have been moved to the top and bottom freeing up space and making the whole thing look smoother.

The biggest change is the lack of headphone jack, meaning there's little to interrupt the surround of the device.

In comparison, the iPhone SE's design is a little more clunky, but it's what we would expect from a cheaper phone. It's fatter than the iPhone 7 and although considerably lighter, the squarer corners don't feel as refined.

It does have the 3.5mm jack and with the antenna wrapping around the outside, it's just not as premium.

Camera

iPhone 7: 12-megapixel, /1.8 aperture with 5x digital zoom

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iPhone SE: 12megapixel, /2.2 aperture with 5x digital zoom

Around the back, the iPhone 7's camera brings in more light than predecessors (and hence the iPhone SE as it features the same camera as the iPhone 6S) and introduces image stabilisation, which is a real bonus if you're a little shaky when taking stills.

For more professional-looking shots, it also features a Quad-LED True Tone flash, Flicker sensor and wide colour capture tech for making photos more vibrant. The lens is a six-element piece of kit, compared to the five elements in the iPhone SE's snapper.

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The iPhone SE doesn't have such luck when it comes to making sure pictures are as crisp even if you experience a little hand wobble either, without stabilisation or any of the extra-special additions Apple launched with the iPhone 7.

Don't get us wrong - it still takes fab shots, it's just not as impressive as the iPhone 7, which really does excel against the competition.

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The front-facing camera on the iPhone 7 comes up trumps too. It's 7-megapixels compared to the iPhone SE's 1.2-megapixels and although it's not all about numbers, the selfie-potential of the iPhone 7 really is something to be impressed by.

Connectivity

iPhone 7: Lightning port

iPhone SE: 3.5mm headphone jack, Lightning port

One of the biggest changes for the iPhone 7 was the removal of a 3.5mm headphone jack, which caused quite a stir when it was first announced.

Although it doesn't mean you can't listen to music via your existing headphones (an adaptor ships in the box), it is a bit of a pain having to add an extra component when you want to plug in your own headphones. It's also something else to get lost if you don't always have your earbuds with you.

The iPhone SE, however, does have a 3.5mm headphone jack, sitting next to the Lighting port for charging your device, making it a more flexible option.

Performance & Battery life

iPhone 7: A10 Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture, Embedded M10 motion coprocessor

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iPhone SE: A9 processor, Embedded M9 motion coprocessor

The iPhone 7's processor is the fastest yet (no surprises there). In fact, Apple says it's 40% faster with 50% better graphics than the A9 processor you'll find in the iPhone SE.

In terms of battery life, the iPhone 7 apparently offers up to two hours more talktime than the iPhone 6S, boasting 14 hours if you're just using 3G. Standby is claimed as up to 10 days, while for those using 4G, you can expect to squeeze 12 hours use out of it.

The iPhone SE offers up to 14 hours if you're just calling, while standby is up to 10 days and it'll keep browsing for up to 13 hours if you're using 4G.

Storage, price and colour options

iPhone 7: 32GB (599), 128GB (699), and 256GB (799) in Jet Black, Black, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold

iPhone SE: 16GB (379) and 64GB (429) in Silver, Gold, Space Grey, Rose Gold

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Apple launched a new colour of iPhone at the launch of the iPhone 7: Jet Black. The super-shiny finish is only available in the larger capacities and may show scratches more easily compared to the regular black finish.

However, it does look super-classy and it seems Apple is trying to convince customers it's worth buying the larger capacities.

The flagship iPhone 7 costs the same as the iPhone 6S was when it launched, meaning it's not alienating customers with a flagship price - the iPhone 7 Plus takes that prize.

The iPhone SE is a cheaper option - much cheaper. Starting at 379 for a 16GB version, you may not be able to squeeze many photos, videos or large apps onto the device, but it's fine if you're just using it for business. The step up to 64GB is very reasonable and probably the best-value iPhone you can buy at just 50 extra.

Verdict

It'll come as no surprise to hear that the iPhone 7 certainly does have all the tech you'll need for business and pleasure. It's all presented in a beautiful package, too.

However, the iPhone SE puts in a good show for a lower-priced smartphone and if it's just the basics you need, it's not worth shelling out the extra money for a load of features you'll probably never get full use out of.

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