Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022): Which should you buy?

Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022): Which should you buy?

The Google Pixel 7a and iPhone SE (2022) compete in the congested mid-range loaded with capable handsets, but that’s all they have in common. It’s their dissimilarity that makes comparing the two a truly compelling exercise. But which should you buy? We take a deeper look in our Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022) comparison.

Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022): At a glance

  • The Google Pixel 7a is slightly more expensive than the equivalent 128GB iPhone SE (2022).
  • The iPhone SE (2022) has a much smaller screen (4.7 inches) than the Google Pixel 7a (6.1 inches). Apple still employs an LCD panel, while Google has moved on to OLED technology.
  • Google’s Pixel 7a’s display refreshes at 90Hz compared to the iPhone SE (2022)’s 60Hz panel.
  • The Google Pixel 7a also has a more versatile dual camera array (64MP + 13MP) than the iPhone SE (2022) single shooter (12MP).
  • The iPhone SE (2022) is considerably lighter (144 grams) than the Pixel 7a (194 grams).

Read on for a more acute look at both phones.

Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022): Specs

Google Pixel 7aiPhone SE (2022)

Display

Google Pixel 7a

6.1-inch OLED
2,400 x 1,080 resolution
20:9 aspect ratio
90Hz refresh rate

iPhone SE (2022)

4.7-inch LCD
1,334 x 750 resolution
16:9 aspect ratio
60Hz refresh rate

Processor

Google Pixel 7a

Tensor G2

iPhone SE (2022)

Apple A15 Bionic

RAM

Google Pixel 7a

8GB LPDDR5

iPhone SE (2022)

4GB LPDDR4X

Storage

Google Pixel 7a

128GB
UFS 3.1
No microSD card support

iPhone SE (2022)

64GB / 128GB / 256GB
NVMe
No microSD card support

Power

Google Pixel 7a

4,385mAh battery
18W wired charging
7.5W Qi wireless charging

iPhone SE (2022)

2,018mAh
20W wired charging
7.5W Qi wireless charging

Cameras

Google Pixel 7a

Rear:
– 64MP primary
(0.8μm, ƒ/1.89, 80-degree FoV, 1/1.73-inch, OIS, dual-pixel PDAF)

– 13MP ultrawide
(1.12μm, ƒ/2.2, 120-degree FoV)

Front:
– 13MP
(1.12μm, ƒ/2.2, 95-degree FoV)

iPhone SE (2022)

Rear:
– 12MP primary
(ƒ/1.8, OIS, PDAF)

Front:
– 7MP
(ƒ/2.2)

Video

Google Pixel 7a

Rear:
– up to 4K at 60fps (30fps on ultrawide)

Front:
– up to 4K at 30fps

iPhone SE (2022)

Rear:
– up to 4K at 60fps

Front:
– up to 1080p at 30 fps

Software

Google Pixel 7a

Pixel UI
Android 13
3 Android updates
5 years of security updates

iPhone SE (2022)

iOS 15
(Upgradable to iOS 16)

IP rating

Google Pixel 7a

IP67

iPhone SE (2022)

IP67

Biometrics

Google Pixel 7a

In-display fingerprint scanner
Face unlock

iPhone SE (2022)

Front-mounted fingerprint scanner (Touch ID)

Connectivity

Google Pixel 7a

5G sub6 (all models)
mmWave (Verizon only)
Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
NFC

iPhone SE (2022)

5G (sub-6)
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC

Dimensions

Google Pixel 7a

152.4 x 72.9 x 9.0mm

iPhone SE (2022)

138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm

Weight

Google Pixel 7a

193g

iPhone SE (2022)

144g

Materials

Google Pixel 7a

Aluminum alloy frame/visor
Plastic back
Gorilla Glass 3 front

iPhone SE (2022)

Aluminum frame
Ion-strengthened glass front and back

Colors

Google Pixel 7a

Charcoal, Coral, Sea, Snow

iPhone SE (2022)

Starlight, Midnight, (Product) Red

Google and Apple’s mid-range contenders couldn’t be more different. At first glance, you’ll likely notice the one huge divergence on both devices: the displays. The Pixel 7a spec sheet opts for a more vibrant and larger OLED screen measuring 6.1 inches from corner to corner. It refreshes at 90Hz, too — a first for the Pixel A line. Scrolling is now buttery smooth, but it’s a feature you’ll have to unlock yourself in the settings menu. While 90Hz is not the fastest refresh rate flaunted by a mid-range device, it does give the Pixel 7a a leg up over its Apple rival.

Comparatively, the display might be the iPhone SE (2022)’s biggest drawback. It measures just 4.7 inches across, refreshes at 60Hz, and still makes do with older LCD tech. All in all, it’s a reliable panel, but it feels incredibly dated especially considering the great screens available on other mid-range models. Apple takes the L here.

However, when you start pushing pixels around the iPhone SE (2022) display, you realize how powerful the phone’s heart is. With the A15 Bionic, the cheapest new iPhone gains a flagship-level chipset that gobbles up tasks, including intense games like Genshin Impact. As mentioned in our review, the iPhone SE (2022) feels like a “Vespa with a V12 engine,” albeit a lot more sensible. Apple also includes 4GB of RAM and up to 256GB of rapid NVMe-based storage. That may seem meager, but iOS is adept at memory management.

The Pixel 7a makes hot strides in the chipset department, quite literally.

The Pixel 7a also makes hot strides in the chipset department, albeit literally and too often for our liking. The Tensor G2 is found in Google’s flagship Pixel 7 Pro, and it can handle daily tasks like streaming music or scrolling social media without fuss. But the chipset runs hot when pushed harder, so much so that our reviewer Ryan Haines had to uninstall the strategy game Warhammer 40,000 Tacticus to keep this problem — and the phone’s battery life — in check. We’ll delve deeper into the two devices’ battery performance in a later section.

On the connectivity front, Google has Apple beat. The Pixel 7a supports mmWave 5G in supported markets and includes dual-SIM functionality with a Nano SIM slot and eSIM support. While the iPhone SE (2022) supports a similar SIM setup, it can only piggyback on sub-6GHz 5G networks. Theoretically, you should see faster connectivity speeds in optimum conditions on the Pixel.

Finally, the other stark difference between the two phones lies in their operating systems. Google’s contender naturally uses Android 13 and comes with a promise of three OS upgrades and five years of OS support. Apple is well known for its long-standing iOS support. While the iPhone SE (2022) launched with iOS 15.4, it’s currently running iOS 16.4.1.

Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022): Size comparison

If your design isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it. That’s seemingly the mentality used by both Google and Apple in their styling decisions. The Pixel 7a looks like a mini Pixel 7, complete with rounded screen corners, the now-familiar horizontal camera bar, and a punch-hole camera sitting atop its screen. Although not spectacular, the Pixel 7a is pleasing to the eye. Although it’s much larger than the iPhone SE (2022), the Pixel 7a is nonetheless comfortable to use with one hand. It’s not a big phone, it’s just that the Apple alternative is incredibly small.

The iPhone SE (2022) truly is purpose-built for small phone shoppers.

The iPhone SE (2022) truly is purpose-built for small phone shoppers. In real numbers, it’s 14mm shorter, 5mm narrower, and just under 2mm thinner than the Pixel 7a. Its design won’t be lost on those considering an upgrade from a much older iPhone. It mimics the aesthetics of the 2020 phone of the same name, which uses the iPhone 6 shell. Sure, it might be comfortable and familiar, but it’s no longer the freshest thing on the market. If you don’t want a device burning a hole in your pocket, the iPhone SE (2022) is 25% lighter than the Pixel 7a.

Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022): Camera

google pixel 7a vs iphone se 2022 buttons

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Few modern devices — even those in the mid-range — feature single cameras on their back, but the iPhone SE (2022) bucks this trend. It employs a 12MP f/1.8 snapper carried over from the 2020 model. It’s a fine camera when used in daylight conditions, as our sample shots below prove. Our review noted that color recreation is a strong point, while you can capture some surprisingly natural bokeh in some situations. However, put the camera to use in remotely challenging conditions, and it shows its age.

Moving over to the Pixel 7a shows just how behind the iPhone SE (2022) is in the imaging department. Google brings a welcome main sensor upgrade to the table. Gone is the stalwart 12MP sensor from the party, and in comes a 64MP main and 13MP ultrawide collaboration. Importantly, the main camera now includes more pixels than ever, but the pixel size is smaller (0.8μm) than the outgoing 12.2MP shooter (1.4μm) on the Pixel 6a. However, the Pixel 7a uses Pixel Binning to output 13MP images with an effective 1.6μm pixel size.

So, how is the new camera? It’s stellar. We found Google’s color science is as laudable as Apple’s, although the main camera on the Pixel 7a is far more flexible and forgiving. It’s made even better by Google’s quick-fire camera app, the Tensor G2’s post-processing, and software features like Real Tone and Magic Eraser. Portrait detection for creatures beyond humans is also much better than Apple.

As for night mode, there is none to speak of on the iPhone SE (2022). You can capture shots at night but need a steady hand with some helpful lightning nearby. Apple does help the camera along with its Deep Fusion technology, which pulls a commendable amount of detail from dimly lit environments.

On the Android side, Google’s excellent night-time camera performances continue with the Pixel 7a. This is largely thanks to Night Sight, which we discovered is triggered on the phone relatively often. It’s not a bad thing, though, as the phone elegantly chooses between three- and six-second exposures based on the available light abound. The Pixel 7a’s low-light shots carry much more data than the iPhone’s.

Notably, neither phone has a dedicated zoom camera, so both rely on software trickery to reach a little further. The iPhone SE (2022)’s zoomed shots appear muddy even when viewed in isolation. When compared to the Pixel 7a, the lack of detail is even more apparent. That’s not to say the Pixel 7a reaches further than its predecessor. Even with the larger sensor, the 7a tops out at 8x zoom instead of the 6a’s 7x reach.

Unlike the iPhone SE (2022), there’s another camera to discuss on the Pixel 7a. The 13MP ultrawide shooter peeks through a 120-degree lens that we find has the same great color reproduction tendencies as the main camera. The slightly broader field of view over the Pixel 6a does allow you to capture more horizontal space in your typical shot. iPhone SE (2022) users don’t have such an advantage with the main camera.

As for selfies, you’ll get a 7MP shooter on the iPhone SE (2022) that works great in bright light and adequately in less ideal conditions. The Pixel 7a trades the Pixel 6a’s 8MP selfie camera for a 13MP upgrade. As usual, Google’s portrait recognition is reliable, although the camera can be sensitive to overexposure in some scenarios. It’s nothing to write home about, though.

Finally, let’s talk about moving images. The iPhone SE (2022) and Pixel 7a can capture video up to 4K at 60fps, but the latter can do so across all three sensors. The iPhone SE (2022)’s selfie camera can only handle 1080p.

Given our experience with both phones, the Google Pixel 7a is by far the superior camera phone and may even be the best camera phone you can buy at this price point. The iPhone SE (2022) will give you reliable, predictable results, but its lack of flexibility leaves it well behind its Android competition.

Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022): Battery and charging

Google Pixel 7a charging plug and wireless dock

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

So far, in our Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022) match-up, the latter comes out of our photography battle with a clear win, but what about battery life?

The Pixel 7a should outlast the iPhone SE (2022) on paper. It packs a 4,385mAh battery that’s more than double the capacity of its challenger. Apple rarely, if ever, quotes actual battery capacity stats, but it’s widely accepted that the iPhone SE (2022) packs a cell that’s just over the 2,000mAh mark. Despite this massive gulf in capacity, the iPhone SE (2022) could go for more than a day on a single charge most days, thanks to excellent software and hardware optimization. In our initial experiences with the Pixel 7a, breaking that 24-hour mark was a stark challenge. Switching off the 90Hz display and enabling Battery Saver mode helps plenty, but you shouldn’t have to nerf your experience to make the day.

Regarding charging, both phones offer 18W wired and 7.5W wireless speeds with Qi-enabled chargers. You need just over two hours to bump the Pixel 7a from 0% to 100% via its cable and a compatible charger, while the iPhone SE hits full in just under an hour.

Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022): Price

  • Google Pixel 7a (8GB/128GB): $499
  • Apple iPhone SE (64GB): $429
  • Apple iPhone SE (128GB): $479
  • Apple iPhone SE (256GB): $579

The Google Pixel 7a is more expensive than two of the three available iPhone SE (2022) configurations. Google’s only offering a cocktail of 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, which will set buyers back $499. This is a $70 premium over the cheapest iPhone SE (2022) configuration with 64GB of storage, and $20 pricier than the equivalent 128GB model. You can also have the iPhone SE (2022) with 256GB of internal storage for $579.

The Google Pixel 7a can be purchased in many countries, including the US, Europe, India, and more, from May 10, 2023. Colorways on offer include Charcoal, Coral, Sea, and Snow. There’s also a Google Store-exclusive Coral flavor, too.

The iPhone SE (2022), now more than a year old, went on sale on March 18, 2022. It’s still widely available from several retailers and directly from Apple itself. Colorways on offer include Starlight, Midnight, and (Product) Red.

Buy on Amazon

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

26%off

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Guaranteed long-term software updates
Improved battery life
Powerful A15 Bionic chipset

Buy on Amazon

Google Pixel 7a

9%off

Google Pixel 7a

The best sub-$500 camera phone
Solid performance and plenty of RAM
Improved 90Hz display

Google Pixel 7a vs iPhone SE (2022): Which should you buy?

google pixel 7a vs iphone se 2022 back in hand

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Google’s latest mid-ranger offers buyers a better camera setup, a gorgeous screen, more modern styling, a larger battery, and solid performance from its flagship-level chipset. Alternatively, the iPhone SE (2022) is the cheapest new entry for those craving an iOS device, the latest and super-swift Apple chipset, and a tiny phone that could easily get lost in a pocket. However, the Pixel 7a’s wins over the iPhone SE (2022)’s faults tip our decision in favor of Google.

Despite its issues, the Pixel 7a’s highlights make it one of the best mid-rangers around.

Yes, the Pixel 7a has its own set of issues, from battery endurance that doesn’t meet expectations to a chipset that heats up far too readily. But it still offers the better value of the two phones if you don’t yet subscribe to the Apple ecosystem. It may not boast the best value in the mid-range segment, and the Pixel 7 looms large over it for just $100 more, but we appreciate the improvements evident in Google’s latest bottom-wrung offering.

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