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Google Pixel 7a vs. iPhone SE (2022): Which mid-range phone should you buy?

It's the battle of budget-friendly phones: Here's how the Pixel 7a's standout features fare against Apple's most affordable iPhone.
Written by Christina Darby, Associate Editor
Google Pixel 7a  in Sea versus iPhone SE in Starlight (2022)
Christina Darby/ZDNET

After weeks of speculation, Google has officially announced the newest addition to its budget-friendly Pixel A-line, the Pixel 7a. Delivering on nearly all fronts, the phone comes with the latest Android features, wireless charging, and now a 90Hz display, all powered by Google's Tensor G2 chipset. 

Also: This is Google's $499 Pixel 7a, and fans have a lot to be excited about

While the Google Pixel 7a is the smartphone in today's spotlight, it's not the only mid-range offering that packs premium features. Apple has its own budget-friendly phone, the third-generation iPhone SE. When ZDNET tested the device back in 2022, we concluded that "you simply can't find a better phone at this price." 

With that statement in mind, let's see how the iPhone compares to the Pixel, whether the times have changed, and most importantly, which device is right for you. 


Google Pixel 7a 

iPhone SE (2022) 


Charcoal, Snow. Coral. Sea

Red, Starlight, Midnight 


6.1-inches, FHD gOLED at 60/90Hz

4.7-inches, LCD at 60Hz  


Google Tensor G2

Apple A15 Bionic 


64MP main, 13MP ultrawide, and 13MP front

12MP main and 7MP front

Battery and charging 

4,385mAh with 18W wired charging and 7.5W wireless charging

Up to 15 hours of video playback with 20W wired charging and 7.5W wireless charging

Memory and Storage 

8GB with 128GB

4GB with 64GB/128GB/256GB 


5G sub6/mmWave, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3 

5G sub6, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6 

Starting price 



You should buy the Google Pixel 7a if…

The home screen of the Google Pixel 7a.
June Wan/ZDNET

1. You want a more modern design 

Compared to the iPhone SE, which still features Apple's physical home button, the Google Pixel 7a employs an in-display fingerprint sensor and facial unlock. This integration not only makes for a more convenient way to unlock your phone but allows for an uninterrupted full-screen experience.

2. You want a bigger and brighter display

Many of us use our phones as an entertainment hub, whether we're scrolling through TikTok and Lemon8, playing games, or streaming the latest TV. With a 6.1-inch screen display and 90Hz refresh rate, the Pixel 7a doesn't sacrifice screen size and quality for a more digestible price. 

Review: Google Pixel 7a: Meet the new best sub-$500 Android phone

Plus, it's notably bigger than the iPhone SE's 4.7-inch display, which may not seem like a big discrepancy, but when you're trying to catch all the nuances of Succession's finale, it makes all the difference. 

3. The Pixel-exclusive camera features appeal to you

iPhones typically receive the most praise for being reliable pocket cameras, but Pixel-exclusive features like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur give the 7a photo benefits that shouldn't go unnoticed. Along with these AI features, the Pixel 7a also packs an ultra-wide camera and wide selfie camera, while the iPhone SE only has a single lens and a 7MP front camera. 

Also: Google debuts Magic Editor, an AI-powered photo editing tool 

You should buy the iPhone SE (2022) if… 

iPhone SE
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

1. You prefer Apple's ecosystem

If you're already living in Apple's walled garden, you know how hard it is to get, or even peek, out. Apple's seamless device integration across iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, is tried and true. And the iPhone SE being a budget phone makes it no exception, especially with the promise of familiar features like FaceTime, FindMy, iMessage, and a powerful A15 Bionic chip.

2. You want the lowest price available

While the Google Pixel 7a and iPhone SE are both budget smartphones, the now two-year-old iPhone SE is ultimately cheaper with a starting price of $429 versus the Pixel's $499. Keep in mind that while you might be saving money, the iPhone SE comes at the expense of an older form factor, including thicker bezels and a home button. To be fair, those are still great if you happen to be nostalgic for the days of the traditional iPhone form factor.

Alternatives to consider

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