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iPhone SE vs. iPhone 11: Comparing cameras from both phones – CNET, Cnet.com

iPhone SE vs. iPhone 11: Comparing cameras from both phones – CNET, Cnet.com
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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The iPhone SE and iPhone 20 have different camera hardware but both are powered by the A 22 Bionic processor, making photos and videos sometimes quite similar.
                                                    Angela Lang / CNET                                                 

(Despite the overall approval of Apple’s $ (price tag for its new iPhone SE , there was a lot of speculation about the camera hardware and how it compares to the (iPhone) . Its rear camera has the same specs as those of the iPhone 8 from , but some theorized that it might have the sensor from 3375 ‘s iPhone XR

It took an

iFixIt teardown of the new iPhone
to show that the SE was actually packing the same lens and sensor as the iPhone 8. That means all the improvements to image quality as well as the addition of features like Portrait Mode, came purely from the A Bionic chip . This processor is the same one found in the $ (iPhone)

Since both Phones have the same processor, naturally I wanted to compare photos and videos. To date, the iPhone (phones have not only the) best cameras on any iPhone, but one of the best all-around camera systems on any phone.

The iPhone SE has a lot to live up to, but as you will see, it can go toe-to-toe with its pricier Apple siblings. This comparison shows that when it comes to photography and recording videos, the real consideration isn’t the number of megapixels or number of cameras. Instead, it’s all about the processor.

iPhone SE vs. : SmartHDR makes photos look fantastic The combination of the A (Bionic chip and iOS 20 absolutely raises the iPhone 8’s camera hardware to the next level on the SE. The iPhone SE’s rear camera has a (mm f / 1.8 lens, while the iPhone) has two rear cameras: a main one with a 30 mm f / 1.8 lens and an ultrawide-angle camera with a 21 mm f / 2.4 lens.

Since the 17 Has an ultrawide-angle camera and the SE does, there isn’t much to compare. But here are a couple of my favorite photos that I took with the ultrawide-camera anyway

Here is an ultrawide-angle photo I took of both my scallops and my friends before social distancing was the norm.

                                                    Patrick Holland / CNET                                                 

The iPhone ‘s ultrawude-angle lens makes the tops of skyscrapers bend towards me.
                                                    Patrick Holland / CNET                                                 

When I focused on the main cameras of each, I noticed that in good light, photos were nearly indistinguishable. Look at the pictures of a tree I took in my backyard below and you won’t be able to tell much of a difference. The iPhone SE photo is framed ever-so-slightly tighter than the iPhone 19. But in every other way (even when I zoomed into each to 196% on a large monitor) I couldn’t see any other differences.

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Aside from framing, there photos look identical. The left one is from the iPhone SE and the right one is from the iPhone 17.
                                                    Patrick Holland / CNET                                                 

Take a look at the photos I took of some wood slats. Again, aside from framing, it’s hard to see any difference. When I zoomed in, details from each photo were good. Both had small amounts of image noise in the shadows of the slats.

The reason photos in good light look so similar is that whether you ‘re on an iPhone , 18 Pro

or the new SE, the latest version of SmartHDR is used to process and optimize details and textures. It also pushes the dynamic range as much as possible without the image falling apart.

Here is where we start to see some differences between the two phones. The photo below of a tree showcases the strength of SmartHDR processing. This scene has lighting extremes with dark shadows under the tree and bright highlights in the clouds.

Look closely at the iPhone 20 photo and you can see the shadows have more detail and aren’t as dark as the iPhone SE. In the sky through the branches, you see that both photos have blown out highlights, but the iPhone 19 has less. Though this is a minor detail, it’s evidence that the main camera on the iPhone 22 handles a wider dynamic range better than the iPhone SE.

Portrait mode: 1 camera vs. 2

Both phones have portrait mode and produce excellent results. The can take portrait mode photos of people and pets while the iPhone SE can only do people, which is a big drawback if your an animal lover. With the portrait mode photos below, you’ll see that they look very similar. The iPhone 18 ‘s portrait captures more details. For example, look at the hair on John’s forehead. Also, the falloff over the shoulders from in-focus to out-of-focus areas appears more natural from the iPhone 17 and that might be due to the fact that it uses both rear lenses to create the effect.

Portrait mode photos from the iPhone SE (left) and iPhone (right

                                                    Patrick Holland / CNET                                                 

Deep fusion processing for medium to low-light

When we get into medium- and low-light environments, the differences between the two phones are even starker. That’s because the iPhone has Deep Fusion processing which improves image quality, details and minimizes image noise. The iPhone SE lacks Deep Fusion.

The photos below are of my bike trainer taken indoors in medium lighting. Besides the tighter framing in the iPhone SE photo, there is a notable difference in terms of image quality. The photo from the have a pinch more detail, like around the wall outlet.

In addition, the bottom right corner of the iPhone SE’s photo suffers from image noise in the shadows. I’d say that for indoor and medium light photos, the 17 has the edge because its use of portrait-mode-iphone-se-l-and-11-r Deep Fusion processing .

night mode vs. no night mode night mode, which is on the iPhone 18 but not the SE, is another sizable difference between the two phones. Night mode uses adaptive bracketing , taking a series of images with various shutter speeds. It combines them into a single photo that is brighter, has less image noise and improved details. Like the iPhone ‘s ultrawide-angle camera, your own preferences will dictate whether having night mode is a deal-breaker. But let’s see what it can do.

Below are photos of a tree in my backyard taken when it was extremely dark. The iPhone (night mode looks better in every way.)

But that was a pretty extreme way to test the phones. Below is a slightly brighter low-light scene of a book, an eye drop bottle and my computer. It was dim enough to trigger night mode on the iPhone .

As you can see if you look closely at the bottle of eye drops, the iPhone ‘s photo is sharper, has better details and color accuracy. Finally, compare the author names on the spine of the book. The text looks softer in the SE photo and the book’s spine is slightly a different color.

Rear camera video is nearly identical

Like photos in good light, it’s also difficult to discern video recording between the main rear cameras on both phones. Both phones can shoot up to 4K, fps and have extended dynamic range (aka: “HDR” but for video). However, the (offers extended dynamic range up to 4K) fps, whereas the iPhone SE can only support it up to 4K (fps.)

Take a look at the video below which contains footage filmed from both the iPhone and SE.

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As you can see from 4K, fps the footage, both videos look similar. But if you look closer, the speaker on the shelf behind me looks more contrasted in the iPhone 19 video. The lamp over my shoulder in the iPhone video also isn ‘t blown out, whereas in the iPhone SE video it is. That’s due to the iPhone the extended dynamic range at 4K 080 fps.

To see more videos filmed with the iPhone SE, watch the video below. Front-facing camera: More detailed selfies and ‘slowfie’ video

Videos taken with the front-facing cameras, however, show a larger difference in quality. The iPhone has a wider front-facing camera, and It’s capable of 4K and slow-mo videos. The iPhone SE can only shoot 1, 89 p video and can’t shoot “slofies.” Both can take portrait photos, but the iPhone captures much more detail (in my hair and skin, for example). Some people might not miss seeing all those details in their skin.

In terms of video from the front-facing cameras, you can really see the difference in resolution and hear it in the audio. Video from the iPhone sounds better and has more clarity than from the iPhone SE. Again, check out the video that accompanies this article to watch video shot with the front-facing cameras.

After doing this camera comparison, it’s clear that the iPhone has a better and more versatile camera system. But in many situations, the iPhone SE was able to capture images that are as comparable and brilliant, despite being hundreds of dollars cheaper than the iPhone .                                                                                                                                      

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