iPhone SE is a cheap iPhone but not a cheap phone - here are some alternatives

iPhone SE (2020)
iPhone SE (2020) (Image credit: Future)

The iPhone SE (2020) and, to a lesser extent, the iPhone 11, show that Apple is aware of one of the largest criticisms leveled against it: its products can often seem expensive.

This new iPhone launched at a much more affordable price tag than any of Apple's phones since the original iPhone SE, with its $399 / £419 / AU$749 cost being relatively tiny compared to the iPhone 11 Pro Max's top price of $1,449 / £1,499 / AU$2,499. It's little wonder, then, that the SE (2020) has been lauded for being 'cheap'.

However Android users - which is, statistically, the majority of you - might be a little confused about this adjective - generally an Android phone at this price tag would be considered decidedly mid-range, not 'cheap'.

There are plenty of great affordable Android phones around for less than half the iPhone SE's price, each of them packed with great features and specs. In fact, there are so many great cheap Android phones that we made of the list of the real best cheap phones.

So when you hear someone refer to the iPhone SE as 'cheap' just remember that although the price is low for an iPhone - and it's be remarkable if the iPhone 12 was a similar price - it's not for smartphones in general.

With that in mind, there might be certain aspects of the iPhone SE (2020) that you like, but you're not sure you want to pay mid-range prices. In which case, you're in luck, as we've listed some of the phone's best features below along with alternatives you might find tempting.

The Samsung Galaxy A51

The Samsung Galaxy A51 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Decent cameras - Samsung Galaxy A-series

Samsung is a company with plenty of decent camera phones at all price ranges, and this includes in its affordable Galaxy A range. While lots of the Samsung Galaxy A phones are mid-rangers, the range includes a few budget devices too. 

The iPhone SE (2020) has the iPhone 8's main camera, although the processing is improved slightly over that phone. However the iPhone SE's screen isn't great, so you might not be able to appreciate those pictures fully.

Whereas the Galaxy A phones, as well as bringing lots of Samsung's camera hardware and software smarts at a low price tag, also tend to have pretty great displays, and usually attractive designs too.

The catch is that Samsung Galaxy A-series availability differs hugely by region, but we've put a collection of a few below that you might want to consider.

Nokia 7.1

The Nokia 7.1 (Image credit: Future)

A compact size - Nokia's budget devices

Most smartphones, even affordable ones, are huge these days, but some people understandably prefer the smaller size of a 'compact' phone.

Although the iPhone SE (2020)'s 4.7-inch screen is far smaller than you'd get on most modern Android phones worth buying, people in the market for a phone with a screen below 6 inches in diameter can still find what they're looking for.

Nokia is one of the biggest names in affordable phones, and plenty of its devices have displays that are small enough to handle comfortably with one hand. For example, the Nokia 5.1, Nokia 6.1 and Nokia 7.1, all from 2018, are supremely affordable with decent features, and have sub-6-inch displays.

The Moto G Power

The Moto G Power (Image credit: Future)

A battery that will last you - Moto's G Power phones

One of the perks of a compact, fairly low resolution screen, as the iPhone SE has, is that it will often keep the battery lasting for longer, but we didn't find that to be the case at all for the iPhone SE.

There are phones that will keep you going for ages, though. In fact many budget smartphone manufacturers pride themselves on the long battery lives of their devices. No manufacturer is a better example of this than Motorola, which literally names some of its phones after their power packs.

The Moto G series has, for the last couple of years, included a Power device - in 2019 this was the Moto G7 Power, and in 2020 both the Moto G8 Power and Moto G8 Power Lite were launched (although in the US the number was dropped from the G8 Power, so it's just the Moto G Power).

These phones have fantastic specs for the money as well as, of course, great battery lives, and they're all very affordable devices too. The G8 Power lasts for up to three whole days between charges, according to Motorola, which is more than most handsets.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.