Which iPhone should you get: iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, or iPhone SE?

Apple now has a full range of modern iPhones, from the entry level iPhone SE to the brand-new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. As you go up in size, what you lose in pocket-ability you start to make up for in things like camera quality, battery life, and interface expansion. But what's the best tradeoff for you?

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Water resistance

iPhone SE doesn't have any water resistance.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have IP67 ingress protection, which is proof against any dust getting in, and resistance to incidental splashes and brief immersions. It's nothing you can dive with, but it can be a real phone-saver.

  • If water resistance matters to you, go with iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 plus.

Display size

iPhone SE has a 4-inch 1136x640 display at 326ppi. iPhone 7 has a 4.7-inch 1334x750 screen at 326ppi. iPhone 7 Plus has a 5.5-inch 1920x1080 screen at 401ppi.

Here's how those compare in terms of physical size:

All of them are light-emmiting diode (LED) backlit, in-plane switching (IPS) liquid crystal displays (LCD). That's a lot of alphabet soup to say they're all using the same bright and beautiful screens. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, though, have DCI-P3 screens for wide gamut color, meaning colors a truer-to-life.

Obviously, iPhone SE has the fewest number of pixels — 727,040. That compares to 1,000,500 on iPhone 7 and 2,073,600 on iPhone 7 Plus. That means the bigger iPhones can show more stuff on screen at one time.

Here's how that looks in terms of pixel count:

  • If small size is more important than lots of stuff or bigger stuff, get an iPhone SE.
  • If you want a good balance between size and quantity, get an iPhone 7.
  • If you want the most pixels possible, get an iPhone 7 Plus.

Case size

Bigger displays make for bigger phones.

  • iPhone 7 Plus is 6.23 inches (158.2 mm) high, 3.07 inches (77.9 mm) wide, 0.29 inch (7.3 mm) deep, and weighs 6.77 ounces (192 grams)
  • iPhone 7 is 5.44 inches (138.3 mm) high, 2.64 inches (67.1 mm) wide, 0.28 inch (7.1 mm) deep, and weighs 4.87 ounces (138 grams).
  • iPhone SE is 4.87 inches (123.8 mm) high, 2.31 inches (58.6 mm) wide, 0.30 inch (7.6 mm) deep, and weighs 3.95 ounces (112 grams).

That means iPhone SE is easy to slip into smaller pockets and carrying bags, and easier to hold and hold up for longer periods of time. Conversely, iPhone 7 Plus needs bigger pockets, carrying bags, and takes more work to use one handed or to hold up for long periods of time.

  • If you want something to fit into your skinny jeans or tiny bag, or something you can easily use one handed, you want iPhone SE.


The 4-inch iPhone SE is small enough the most people can reach every corner of the display, even with a single hand and thumb. The 4.7-inch iPhone 7 and 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus, not so much.

To make up for the more expansive displays, Apple introduced Reachability mode. Simply tap — not press! — the Home button twice and the entire interface shifts halfway down so you can more easily access the controls at the top.

  • If you want constant one-handed ease of use, get an iPhone SE.
  • If you can manage the big or bigger sizes, Reachability mode can help with iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.


If you don't want more pixels but just want bigger pixels, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus can do that too. Thanks to Display Zoom, you can tell an iPhone 7 to use the iPhone SE interface and magnify it up, or tell an iPhone 7 Plus to use the iPhone 7 interface and magnify it up.

That way there's not more stuff on the screen, simply bigger stuff that's easier to see and interact with. For anyone with visual accessibility needs, it's incredibly important to consider.

  • If a bigger interface is necessary for you to see and interact with your iPhone, get an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus and use Display Zoom.


iPhone SE comes in silver, gold, rose gold, and space gray.

iPhone 7 comes in silver, gold, rose gold, (matte) black, jet black, and Product (RED).

  • If you want the new blacks or Product (RED), you have to go with iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus.


iPhone SE only comes in 32 and 128GB configurations. That means you won't be able to store maximum apps, games, videos, photos, and other media.

iPhone 7 comes in 32, 128, and 256GB configurations. That means, if you choose to, you can have the most storage space possible available for apps, games, videos, photos, and other media.

  • If you want the most storage possible, you'll want iPhone 7.


The iPhone 7 Plus has so many pixels that, in landscape mode, it acts like an iPad. Mail goes from one column to two columns. So does Messages, Notes, and a host of other apps. Safari gets tabs and the rest of the tablet treatment. It may not sound like much but it's a huge boon for productivity.

  • If you like the idea of having a big iPhone in portrait and a tiny iPad in landscape, get the iPhone 7 Plus.


iPhone SE has an Apple A9 system-on-a-chip, which combines Apple's third generation 64-bit, dual-core processor with a silly fast graphics processor for the best performance in the business. There's also an integrated M9 coprocessor for motion sensing and unplugged "Hey Siri" and an advance image signal processor (ISP) for the most true-to-life photography possible.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have the Apple A10 Fusion chip, which includes two sets of two cores, one set for maximum power and the other for maximum power efficiency. Combined an even sillier, faster graphics processor, and an M10 motion coprocessor, it redefines what best in the business means, including next-generation image signal processing (ISP) for wide-gamut photos.

  • If you want maximum power and power efficiency, get iPhone 7.


All modern iPhones have really good iSight cameras. iPhone SE offers an ƒ/2.2, 12 megapixel still camera and 4K video. iPhone 7 offers an even better ƒ/1.8, 12 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization (OIS) that can capture wide gamut images and a quad-LED flash for better light-matching.

iPhone 7 Plus, however, now has an all-new 12 megapixel dual lens camera. It combines a wide-angle, ƒ/1.8 aperture lens and a telephoto ƒ/2.8 lens to allow or up to 2x optical and 10x digital zoom, and — coming soon — a portrait mode with simulated depth-of-field effects.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus also have much, much better 7 megapixel FaceTime cameras now.

  • If you want the best camera phone Apple makes, get the iPhone 7 Plus.

3D Touch

Currently only iPhone 7 and last year's iPhone 6s support Apple's 3D Touch pressure sensitive technology. iPhone SE does not. iPhone 7, uniquely, supports Apple's new force touch Home button.

  • If 3D Touch matters to you, get iPhone 7.

Battery life

iPhone SE gets tremendously great battery life. Up to 14 hours of talk, 10 days standby, 13 hours of web browsing and video playback, and 50 hours of audio.

iPhone 7 gets just as tremendous battery life. Up to 14 hours of talk, 10 days standby, 13 hours of web browsing and wireless video playback, and 40 hours of wireless audio.

iPhone 7 Plus gets crazy good battery life. Up to 21 hours of talk, 16 days of standby, 15 hours of web browsing, 14 hours of wireless video, and 60 hours of wireless audio.

  • If battery life matter most to you, and you don't want to use an external battery case or power bank, get the iPhone 7 Plus.

Who should get iPhone SE?

If you want the smallest iPhone available, one that'll fit into the smallest pocket or pouch, but still has a fairly recent processor and camera, you want iPhone SE.

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Who should get iPhone 7?

If you want an iPhone that's still a phone, with all the power but not all of the bulk, and you're okay not having the dual-lens camera, then you want iPhone 7.

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Who should get the iPhone 7 Plus?

If you want the biggest screen possible, the longest battery life available, and the best camera Apple has ever offered, you want iPhone 7 Plus.

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Still undecided?

If you're still not sure about which iPhone to get, jump into our iPhone discussion forums and the best community in mobile will happily help you out.

Bottom line, your iPhone will be one of the most often-used, most important possessions in your life. Get the one that will fit your needs the best!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.