Google did something unexpected on Monday--that is, if it's possible to be both overdue and unexpected at the same time. The company released its new Pixel 4A low-cost smartphone. Actually, to be precise, it released three new phones--the Pixel 4A, the Pixel 5, and the Pixel 4A 5G. We'll ignore the last two for now, since they aren't actually available yet. Instead, it's worth looking at how the best low-price Android device compares with Apple's entry-level iPhone SE. Both are available for less than $400, 


It's not entirely unfair to say that Google mostly makes smartphones for the purpose of showing off its cameras. It's called a Pixel, after all. It sports a 12.2 megapixel camera, which is quaint in comparison with devices from OnePlus and Samsung. On the other hand, what it might lack in camera specs, it makes up for in computational photography. The best example of this is easily the Pixel 4A's "night mode." 

That's one area where the iPhone SE can't compete. It does sports the same camera as the iPhone XR, but with better processing power behind it. Still, that power doesn't extend to the same night mode found in the iPhone 11 series. The iPhone SE does have one advantage--video, an area the Pixel is noticeably lacking.


Looking at the two phones side-by-side, the difference is about as stark as could be. The Pixel 4A features an edge-to-edge design, while the iPhone SE has basically the same design (other than a glass back) as the iPhone 6, which is now six years old. That said, the iPhone feels better, made of aluminum and glass, than the Pixel, which is mostly plastic. 

The Pixel 4A has a 5.8-inch OLED display, compared with the 4.7-inch Retina LCD on the iPhone. Both include fingerprint sensors, with the iPhone's Touch ID doubling as the home button. The Pixel 4A's is the same as the 3A, located on the rear.


Whether you prefer iOS or Android is probably the biggest consideration between these two devices, and chances are good you've already made up your mind on that. That said, if you're looking for Android, Google's devices are the purest form you can get. The software is usually free of the bloat you find on other manufacturers, and new versions of Android come to the Pixel devices first.


Of course, when it comes to the device you use to stay connected, it's helpful to know whether it can handle your day-to-day routine. The Pixel 4A has a larger battery than the dismal Pixel 4, and it'll give you enough juice to get through the day with normal use. The iPhone SE can't compete with its flagship siblings, and its capacity is only about half the Pixel 4A's, but it also is more than capable for daily use largely because of its smaller screen size (which draws less power). 


There's really no competition here--the iPhone SE is the winner, and it isn't even close. Then again, the iPhone SE sports the same processor as the iPhone 11 Pro, which happens to be the most powerful mobile chip ever stuck in a smartphone. That hardly makes it fair to compare with a $349 budget Android device. 

Of course, the iPhone is a $399 budget iOS device, and is easily the winner here. Maybe the biggest difference is that while the Pixel 4A is adequate for now, the iPhone SE, on the other hand, will be more than capable for at least four or five years.