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iPhone SE 2 vs iPhone 8: Should you finally upgrade?

Apple’s first big smartphone release of 2020 is here. The iPhone SE 2 is an ‘affordable’ member of the iPhone family with many similarities to another iPhone.

The new iPhone SE 2 is basically an updated iPhone 8. You’ve got a very similar design, but with a faster processor and new camera.

Here’s a full look at the differences between the two phones.

It’s striking just how similar these two phones look, even though it has been three years since the iPhone 8. Phones have changed dramatically since the iPhone 8, with bezels being heavily reduced and fingerprint sensors no longer common. These two phones have the same glass back, rounded corners and flat-ish design.

The iPhone SE 2 feels like a throwback. It has a chunky bezel, TouchID sensor and fairly small over dimensions – all of which we don’t see that often.

Both the iPhone SE 2 and iPhone 8 have small 4.7-inch displays (there was a larger 8 Plus too, with a 5.5-inch display) with a ‘Retina’ resolution. They have LCD panels, rather than the OLED you’ll find on the iPhone 11 Pro, and as such lack modern features like proper HDR support.

The iPhone Se 2 comes in red, black and white. With the iPhone 8, it’s available in grey, silver and rose gold. Both phones have an IP67 rating, lack a headphone jack and can be charged wireless via a Qi pad.

Related: Best iPhones

The iPhone SE 2 might look like the iPhone 8, but inside it’s a lot more modern. If your iPhone 8 is feeling a little sluggish, the improvements here might make the upgrade worth it – if you’re happy to keep the same design that is.

Rather than the A11 Bionic chip that you’ll find in the 8, the SE 2 is powered by the same A13 chipset that powers the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. It’s the fastest chip we’ve benchmarked, and we would expect performance on the SE 2 to be excellent, especially in areas like gaming and AR.

RAM on the iPhone 8, however, we still don’t know whether this remains on the SE 2. According to Geekbench, the iPhone 11 had 4GB RAM, but the specifics for the SE 2 have yet to be revealed.

Both phones come in 64GB and 128GB, with the iPhone SE 2 also adding a 256GB option. Another similarity is the iOS 13 software you’ll find on both phones, with access to Apple Arcade and Apple TV Plus.

We don’t know how the iPhone SE 2 will perform in terms of endurance. However, the more efficient A13 chipset should help it last longer than the iPhone 8. When we originally reviewed the iPhone 8, we weren’t too impressed with the battery life.

On the back of the iPhone 8, you’ll find a single 12-megapixel camera, with an f/1.7 lens and OIS. The Plus model added a secondary telephoto 2x zoom capable 12-megapixel camera too.

While it was a good camera in 2017, optics in phones have improved seriously since then, and they are far better now with many more sensors and lots of features.

The iPhone SE 2 also has a single 12-megapixel sensor, with an f/1.8 lens and a portrait mode. There’s Smart HDR too and 5x ‘digital zoom’. We’ll have to get the iPhone SE 2 in our hands to know for sure how this camera compares to other iPhones currently available. There’s also a 7-megapixel camera on the front and support for 4K video up to 60fps.

The iPhone 8 has had many price cuts since its 2017 release. The latest prices on the Apple Store are as follows:

  • 64GB = £479
  • 128GB = £529

The larger iPhone 8 Plus was £100 more, so £579 for 64GB and £629 for 128GB.

For comparison, here are the prices of the iPhone SE 2:

  • 64GB = £419/$399
  • 128GB = £469/$449
  • 256GB = £569/$549

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