Budget phones are an exciting category for smartphones every year. Most of the innovation and cutting edge technology comes to the flagships. However, here we see companies developing methods to cut costs. Every year there are different companies with different approaches to a budget phone that performs well.
While there are a lot of cheaper phones every year, only a few of them stand out. Previously it was the phones from Oneplus, but that company slowly evolved to a flagship maker. For a few years now, Google has caused a lot of buzz with its Pixel phones. The perfect phone made by Google that runs an OS made by Google with applications from Google as well.
Last year we got Pixel 3a, a budget version of its elder brother Pixel 3, and interestingly google decided to refresh the model. The Pixel 4a is coming this month, and the specs are on par with most modern phones. It packs a great set of features for an attractive price of around 350$.
Before Pixel 4a, Apple also announced a refresh to its only budget phone iPhone SE. At the time of release, this phone also looked pretty capable and has the potential to stand up with most newer flagship phones in performance. Apple gave this one a price tag of 400$ for the lowest variant. A phone priced this low from apple surely bought them some new customers.
Both of the phones have similar pricing and target almost the same customer segment. Consequently, If you’re looking for a new phone that does not empty your pockets but still performs and looks good, these two are surely on your list. For users looking to buy one these phones, we have an in-depth comparison talking about all the significant features and problems.
Having the two phones side by side, Pixel looks more modern with its minimal bezels and a bigger display with the hole-punch camera. The iPhone, on the other hand, uses a much older design with the huge bezels on the front and bottom-mounted Touch ID. The bezels are black in every color model of the iPhone.
Materials wise the Pixel does cheap out a little. We get a plastic back and a plastic frame on this device compared to the glass and metal combination on the original Pixel 4. On the iPhone, you will get a glass front and a glass back with an aluminum frame in between.
The iPhone also comes with an IP67 dust and water resistance of up to 1m for 30 minutes. The Google Pixel 4a, on the contrary, does not have any water or dust resistance certification. The iPhone comes in three colors Red, Black, and White whereas Pixel only comes in a single color, Just Black.
The display is one of the essential parts of the phone. It is the only component you stare ta all the time while using your phone, so it has to be good. Between the two phones, we have a clear winner in terms of display. The Google Pixel 4a, as we mentioned earlier, has a more modern design. In addition to better design, Pixel also has a bigger screen measuring 5.81 inches compared to 4.7 inches on the little iPhone.
There is also a difference in screen panels Apple has equipped the SE with its Retina IPS LCD panel compared to the OLED panel on the Pixel. The OLED panel will provide better viewing angles and color range, and it will also consume less battery in comparison to an LCD one.
In terms of display resolution, the iPhone again takes beat from Pixel the SE comes with a low 720p resolution and the old 16 by 9 aspect ratio. Meanwhile in the Pixel has a 1080p display and 19.5 by 9. The bigger aspect ratio will mean more vertical space for content on the screen.
Performance is the area where the iPhone finally gets a chance to flex its muscles. It comes with the six-core A13 Bionic chip from Apple paired with 3 Gigabytes of Ram and 64 GB storage for the cheapest model in comparison. The Pixel, on the contrary, comes equipped with Snapdragon 730, 6GB of RAM, and 128 GB internal storage. On paper, the Pixel looks in the lead here, but that changes practically.
The reason for this is the different Operating Systems. The iOS is highly optimized for Apple hardware, and we get exceptional performance for the SE. That does not mean that Pixel is noot good. It also performs well in benchmarks as well as daily tasks, but the iPhone takes the lead here.
One more important thing is the battery Pixel 4a has a 3140 mAh battery, and the iPhone has 1821 mAh one. Interestingly the iPhone beats the Pixel in battery life as well thanks to its better power management and smaller display. Both of the devices have 18W fast charging, so singe day battery life should not be much of an issue.
Since both of these devices are budget phones, we do not get to see a multi-camera array this time. The two devices have single camera modules, but they work great. This is something that other budget companies should take away from Google and Apple. Instead of including multiple bad sensors, add a single one that works better.
Both of these devices have exceptionally well cameras, and although SE has an older sensor, it makes up for it in post thanks to the newer A13 chip. Google, on the other hand, leads every other smartphone camera with its excellent image quality thanks to AI implementation. We get a 12-megapixel f1.7 camera on the Pixel and 12mp f1.8camera on the iPhone.
The pictures from iPhone look a little blown out and less saturated while Pixel produces more natural and vibrant shots. This is something characteristic to Apple, and they always have a subtle approach to colors. The portrait mode also works well on both phones, but once again, Pixel takes the lead with more details. Things also remain similar in night mode, where the Pixel manages to expose more of the scene. The selfie camera on both of the phones is also pretty good, and we managed to take some great looking photos.
In terms of video, both devices are capable of 4k video recording, but the iPhone produces better results thanks to improved stabilization and better post-processing from Apple.
Choosing one from the two of these devices is not an easy job. The decision may vary from one person to another, depending on the use. In our view, the iPhone offers excellent performance and a premium package, with looks that are a little bit dated. Still, if you need an all-rounder phone with the best value, the Pixel 4a is undoubtedly the one.