The third-generation iPhone SE and the iPhone 12 are among Apple's lowest-cost options. Apple lowered the price of the iPhone 12 in order to make it more accessible as new models have been released. The most affordable option in the lineup was refreshed in early 2022, with the launch of the third- generation iPhone SE.

Should you get the new, smaller, entry-level iPhone or the older, larger, standard model? The guide helps answer the question of which one is better for you.


The third generation of the iPhone.

  • Smaller form factor, weighs 144 grams
  • Glass front and back
  • 4.7-inch Retina HD LCD display
  • 625 nits max brightness (typical)
  • 1400:1 contrast ratio (typical)
  • Home Button with Touch ID
  • A15 Bionic chip
  • Single rear camera (ƒ/1.8 Main)
  • Photographic Styles
  • Smart HDR 4 for photos
  • Front-facing 7MP FaceTime HD camera with 1080p HD video recording and Smart HDR 4
  • Battery life with up to 15 hours video playback
  • Rated IP67 water-resistant to a depth of one meter for up to 30 minutes
  • Midnight, Starlight, and PRODUCT(RED) color options

There is an iPad

  • Larger form factor, weighs 164 grams
  • Ceramic Shield front and glass back
  • 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display
  • 625 nits max brightness (typical) and 1,200 nits peak brightness (HDR)
  • 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio (typical)
  • Face ID
  • A14 Bionic chip
  • Dual rear cameras with 2x optical zoom range (ƒ/1.6 Main and ƒ/2.4 Ultra Wide)
  • Night mode
  • Smart HDR 3 for photos
  • HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 30 fps
  • Audio zoom
  • Front-facing 12MP TrueDepth camera with 4K video recording, Smart HDR 3, slo-mo video support, Animoji, and Memoji
  • Battery life with up to 17 hours video playback
  • Rated IP68 water-resistant to a depth of six meters for up to 30 minutes
  • U1 Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness
  • Supports Dolby Atmos audio playback
  • Compatible with MagSafe cases, wallets, wireless chargers, and more
  • Purple, Blue, Green, Black, White, and PRODUCT(RED) color options

The iPhone SE is an excellent entry level option. Since it is a newer device, the iPhone SE is better than the iPhone 12.

Face ID, an Ultra Wide camera, MagSafe, and a longer battery life are included in the price of the iPhone 12. Improved water resistance, the U1 chip, and even additional color options are included in the price. If you value these features and can afford the extra $170, you can upgrade your phone to the iPhone SE.

The iPhone 12 has an older and less powerful chip that is the main reason why it's not a good buy. Some users value features like Touch ID and the smaller size of the iPhone SE. If you want to get the benefits of a device with Face ID and a larger display, you need to look past the smaller device.

If you prefer the iPhone 12's set of features, then it is still a good option for $599, but most users looking for an affordable iPhone should choose the iPhone SE since it is more future-proof.

It's worth noting that the iPhone 13 mini is the same price as the iPhone 12 and has a smaller display, but it's still available from Apple. The iPhone 13 mini has double the storage of the iPhone 12 at 128GB, so it's a better option for users who are considering the iPhone 12 but don't mind having a smaller screen.