It’s been a big year for budget smartphones—and it’s no wonder, with many price-conscious buyers looking to save money in a difficult economic environment. Many top device makers have debuted new smartphones in 2020 with great features and specs as well as price tags below $800.
Two of the leading budget phone options to hit the market in 2020 come from the two biggest names in smartphones in the U.S.—Apple and Samsung. Those new budget smartphones would be Apple’s iPhone SE 2--the second-gen follow-up to the compact iPhone SE—and Samsung’s Galaxy A51.
Notably, both budget phones share some of the premium features of the higher-end iPhone and Galaxy S smartphone lineups--such as a top-level processor in the iPhone SE 2, a large high-quality display in the Galaxy A51 and strong battery life in both of the affordable smartphones in our comparison.
But which of the two phones is the better fit for you? In the following slides, the CRN Test Center compares Apple’s new iPhone SE vs Samsung’s Galaxy A51 on specs and price.
For budget-conscious buyers seeking a large, modern-looking smartphone display, Samsung’s Galaxy A51 may be an ideal choice. The phone not only offers a 6.5-inch screen, but it’s also got minimal bezels, vibrant Super AMOLED display technology and resolution of 405 pixels per inch.
The new iPhone SE, on the other hand, has a much smaller display at 4.7 inches. It also sports sizable bezels above and below the screen, and has lower resolution of 326 ppi—along with Apple’s Retina LCD display technology rather than OLED.
Processor And Connectivity
One area where the new iPhone SE has a clear advantage over the Galaxy A51 is on performance. Apple includes the same A12 Bionic processor that’s used in its iPhone 11 line in the second-gen iPhone SE, while Samsung opts for a lower-end chip in the Galaxy A51 (the Exynos 9611). Users can expect much better performance from the iPhone SE over the Galaxy A51, based on benchmark tests showing that the A13 Bionic has outperformed even higher-end chips than the Exynos 9611.
However, if you’re looking for 5G capabilities, only the Galaxy A51 has an option for you. A separate variant, the Galaxy A51 5G, offers support for the high-speed wireless connectivity. Like all other iPhones to date, the iPhone SE does not offer 5G.
RAM And Storage
Samsung does compensate somewhat for its slower processor with a higher amount of RAM in its Galaxy A51, however. The device includes 4 GB—or 6 GB in the 5G variant--compared to a reported 3 GB of RAM for the second-gen iPhone SE.
On storage, the Galaxy A51 includes 128 GB built-in (plus a a microSD slot enabling up to 512 GB of additional storage). The iPhone SE 2 is offered in 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB storage configurations.
Battery Life And Camera
On battery life, the Galaxy A51 offers up to 16 hours of WiFi usage. For the second-gen iPhone SE, Apple says battery life is “about the same” as on the iPhone 8, with up to 13 hours of video playback available.
The Galaxy A51 also stands out with a quad rear camera--including a 48-megapixel main camera and 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera. Apple, meanwhile, boasts that the rear camera on the iPhone SE 2 is the “best single-camera system ever in an iPhone,” with 12 megapixels on the wide-angle camera.
Authentication And Headphone Jack
Unlike other smartphones that have moved to facial recognition for authentication, both Apple’s new iPhone SE and Samsung’s Galaxy A51 include fingerprint recognition for log-in. The iPhone SE 2 brings back Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint recognition and home button (which had been eliminated from new iPhone models since 2018, replaced by Face ID facial recognition). The Galaxy A51 does have an advancement to offer for its authentication method, with the inclusion of an in-display fingerprint sensor—which appears on the unlock screen to show users where to place their finger, and then disappears afterward.
One other feature of the Galaxy A51 could be a draw for certain users: the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack. For the new iPhone SE, like with all other recent iPhones, the headphone jack is absent.
Though trade-in deals are plentiful for Samsung’s Galaxy A51, the unlocked Galaxy A51 price with no trade-in is $549.99 as of this writing. That puts Samsung’s Galaxy A51 right on par with Apple’s iPhone SE 2 price of $749. However, that’s just the starting iPhone SE price—for a model that comes with 64 GB of storage, just half the storage that you get with the Galaxy A51. To buy a second-gen iPhone SE with a comparable 128 GB of storage, you’ll need to pay $829.