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OnePlus 7T vs. iPhone SE (2020): Which should you buy?

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

OnePlus dominates the value segment, and while the manufacturer churns out new phones every six months, its devices continue to hold up fine after several years. For instance, the OnePlus 7T is still one of the fastest phones in the market today, and the fact that you can now buy it for $499 makes it a decent value. But with the iPhone SE (2020) launching at just $399 and offering exciting features like wireless charging, there's more than enough choice if you're looking to pick up a mid-range phone this year.

The OnePlus 7T is a stellar phone, and the iPhone SE (2020) isn't far behind

OnePlus 7T

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

OnePlus has steadily plugged away at the value segment over the last five years, offering sleeker phones with more powerful chipsets and exciting new features with every generation. The highlight on the OnePlus 7T is a 90Hz AMOLED panel that makes everyday interactions that much more smooth. When seen next to a regular 60Hz screen, a 90Hz panel feels incredibly responsive. Six months down the line, the OnePlus 7T feels just as fluid as day one.

The OnePlus 7T has a large display with a 90Hz refresh rate and the internals hold up just fine in 2020.

The 6.55-inch FHD+ display is one of the best you'll find in this category, and when you factor in the thin bezels and the fact that there's stereo sound on offer, the OnePlus 7T is a fantastic choice for gaming and consuming multimedia. The internal hardware is just as robust, with a Snapdragon 855+ chipset joined by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, Wi-Fi ac, AptX HD audio codec, and a 3,800mAh battery with 30W wired charging.

You also get an in-display fingerprint sensor that works reliably, Android 10 out of the box, and a clean UI in OxygenOS. That's not bad at all for a phone that now retails for $499, but there's a new contender in town if you're looking for value in 2020: the iPhone SE.

The iPhone SE retains the same design as the iPhone 8, but there are considerable hardware upgrades under the hood. The phone is powered by the A13 Bionic chipset, the same chipset that's used in the iPhone 11 series. It is the fastest mobile chipset in the world right now, beating out Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 and last year's 855+ with considerable ease. The fact that you can now get it on a $400 phone is truly mind-boggling.

The iPhone SE's design is design, but it has the fastest mobile chipset in the world and wireless charging.

The phone wins out in other areas as well. You get wireless charging and IP67 dust and water resistance, two features that are generally limited to flagship phones that cost over $1,000. Wireless charging is a big deal in particular because you just don't find many Android phones for under $600 that offer the feature. OnePlus introduced 30W wireless charging this year, but it is limited to the $899 OnePlus 8 Pro.

You get 64GB of storage on the base variant of the iPhone SE, with the 128GB model retailing for $450. Because the phone is using a design from four years ago, you get massive bezels around the screen, a physical home button, a Touch ID button for biometric authentication instead of the newer Face ID, and a 720p panel. Having said that, other than the bezels, the rest of the issues don't really matter on the phone. The fact that you get a 4.7-inch screen means a 720p resolution isn't too bad, and a physical home button actually ends up being a useful addition.

iPhone SE 2020

Source: iMore (Image credit: Source: iMore)

You get a single 12MP camera on the iPhone SE, with the OnePlus 7T offering three cameras at the back: a 48MP primary lens joined by a 12MP 2x zoom module, and a 16MP wide-angle lens. You miss out on the versatility of the wide-angle and zoom lenses, but the main camera on the iPhone SE takes photos that are just as good as the 48MP module on the 7T.

The iPhone SE also has 18W wired charging, with a 5W charger bundled in the box. Sure, the OnePlus 7T wins out in this area with its 30W wired charging, and you also get 128GB of storage as standard, but the chipset ends up being a huge differentiator for the iPhone SE. The fact that it is one of the very few compact phones with high-end hardware makes it an attractive option in 2020.

When it comes to extended software updates, no Android phone can come close to the iPhone SE 2020.

There is another standout feature on the iPhone SE. Because it is using the latest A13 chipset, it's eligible to receive software updates for several years. iPhones generally receive iOS updates for four or five years, and that will be the case on the iPhone SE as well. The first-gen iPhone SE got four iOS version updates, so it's entirely likely that the iPhone SE (2020) will do the same. That's a big deal because most Android phones won't get more than two platform updates (if that).

When you factor in the hardware on offer and the fact that you're guaranteed updates for a lot longer than most Android phones, the iPhone SE ends up being one of the best options you can find at $400.

CategoryOnePlus 7TiPhone SE (2020)
Operating systemAndroid 10
OxygenOS 10
iOS 13
Display6.55-inch 90Hz Fluid AMOLED
2400x1080 (20:9)
HDR10+
Gorilla Glass 6
4.7-inch Retina IPS LCD
1334 x 750 (16:9)
True Tone
ChipsetSnapdragon 855+
1 x 2.96GHz Kryo 485
3 x 2.42GHz Kryo 485
4 x 1.80GHz Kryo 485
Adreno 640
7nm
Apple A13 Bionic
2 x 2.66GHz Lightning
4 x 1.73GHz Thunder
4-core GPU
7nm
RAM8GB LPDDR4X3GB LPDDR4X
Storage128GB/256GB UFS 3.064GB/128GB/256GB
MicroSD slotNoNo
Rear camera 148MP, f/1.6
OIS, EIS
4K at 60fps
12MP, f/1.8
OIS, EIS
4K at 60fps
Rear camera 212MP, f/2.2
OIS, 2x zoom
No
Rear camera 316MP, f/2.2
Wide-angle lens
117-degree field-of-view
No
Front camera16MP, f/2.0
Sony IMX471
16MP, f/2.2
ConnectivityWi-Fi ac 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0
AptX HD, NFC, A-GPS
Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
NFC, A-GPS
AudioUSB-C
Stereo speakers
USB-C
Stereo speakers
Battery3800mAh
Non-removable
1821mAh
Non-removable
ChargingUSB-C 3.1
30W
Lightning
18W
Wireless charging
Water resistanceNoIP67
SecurityIn-display fingerprint (optical)Front fingerprint sensor
Dimensions160.9 x 74.4 x 8.1mm
190g
138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm
148g
ColorsGlacier Blue, Frost SilverBlack, White, (PRODUCT)RED

It's all down to the ecosystem

OnePlus 7T

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The OnePlus 7T comes with a gorgeous 90Hz AMOLED panel and high-end hardware, the software is a delight to use, and you get decent battery life. The iPhone SE may not look modern with its 16:9 panel and huge bezels, but it more than makes up for it with the A13 Bionic and wireless charging.

There's no bad choice here — it all comes down to whether you're willing to switch away from Android.

With just $100 between the two phones, it comes down to the software ecosystem. The OnePlus 7T will get platform updates to Android 12 security updates until the end of 2022, and in this regard, it fares better than most Android devices in the mid-range category. But the iPhone SE (2020) is going to receive four platform updates or more, and it has a clear edge in this area.

If you're already heavily invested in the Android ecosystem and want a reliable phone that will easily last two years or more, then the OnePlus 7T is a fantastic choice in 2020. But the iPhone SE (2020) has extra features that go a long way, costs less, and will get more software updates. If you're willing to make the switch, the iPhone SE is hands-down the best value you'll find this year.

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