Compared: iPhone SE versus iPod touch

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2020
The new iPhone SE is currently Apple's cheapest iPhone, but it isn't the cheapest iOS device. Here's how Apple's latest entry-level iPhone stacks up against the least expensive way to get into iOS on a new device -- the seventh-generation iPod touch.

The iPhone SE and iPod touch are both iOS-based devices with similar price points. But that's about the extent of their similarities.
The iPhone SE and iPod touch are both iOS-based devices with similar price points. But that's about the extent of their similarities.


Side-by-side, the iPhone SE and the iPod touch may seem like two vastly different devices aimed at different segments of the market. But despite running on older hardware and having fewer features, the seventh-generation iPod touch, released in May 2019, is still an iOS device.

And with a lower $399 price point (roundup of iPhone SE deals), the iPhone SE has officially entered the iPod's territory, which costs between $199 and $399 depending on storage configuration.

With all of that in mind, here's how the iPhone SE stacks up against two variants of the iPod touch.
iPhone SE (2020)iPod touch (256GB)iPod touch (32GB)
Price$399$399$199
Dimensions (inches)5.45 x 2.65 x 0.295.86 x 2.31 x 0.24 5.86 x 2.31 x 0.24
Weight (ounces)5.223.103.10
ProcessorA13 Bionic
Third-generation Neural Engine
A10 FusionA10 Fusion
RAM3GB2GB2GB
Storage64GB, 128GB, 256GB256GB32GB
Display type4.7-inch Retina HD4-inch Retina4-inch Retina
Resolution1,334 x 750 at 326 ppi1,136 x 640 at 326 ppi1,136 x 640 at 326 ppi
Rear Cameras12-megapixel wide angle8-megapixel8-megapixel
Front Cameras7-megapixel1.2-megapixel1.2-megapixel
BiometricsHome button Touch IDNone (Passcode)None (Passcode)
PortsLightning
No headphone jack
Lightning
Headphone jack
Lightning
Headphone jack
Connectivity4G LTE
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.0
No cellular
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
No cellular
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
Battery SizeNot disclosed, up to 13 hours of video playbackNot disclosed, up to 8 hours of video playbackNot disclosed, up to 8 hours of video playback
ColorsBlack, White, RedSpace Gray, Gold, Silver, Pink, Blue, (PRODUCT)RED Space Gray, Gold, Silver, Pink, Blue, (PRODUCT)RED

Basic overview of iPhone SE versus iPod touch

The iPhone SE is Apple's latest entry-level iPhone, and it packs serious bang for the buck.
The iPhone SE is Apple's latest entry-level iPhone, and it packs serious bang for the buck.


At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive to compare a smartphone to a touchscreen MP3 player. In this post-carrier subsidy era, the 2020 iPhone SE has ushered in a new era of iPhone affordability.

With its $399 starting price, the new iPhone SE really is the best bang for the buck among Apple's iOS-based devices. Although the base model iPod touch may be cheaper still, there are some notable differences between the two.

The iPhone SE runs on the latest and greatest A13 Bionic chipset, which can run circles around the iPod touch's older A10 Fusion. That's not to mention the iPod touch's lower RAM specifications -- 2GB versus the 3GB in the iPhone.

Camera-wise, the iPhone SE has a 12-megapixel sensor, compared to the iPod touch's 8-megapixel shooter. The iPhone SE also packs some great computational photography abilities, thanks to its current-generation processor. It also packs a 7-megapixel front-facing camera, which is vastly improved over the 1.2-megapixel camera hanging around on the iPod touch.

Compared to Apple's entry-level iPhone, the iPod touch is missing some key features. It lacks cellular connectivity and any type of IP-rating. Similarly, there's no biometric authentication here. Although the iPod touch retains a Home button, it doesn't have a fingerprint scanner.

While the iPod touch is quite a bit smaller than the iPhone SE and has a lower resolution display, its battery life also pales compared to its cellular-connected counterpart.

Looking at specifications other than price, the iPhone SE is going to outpace the iPod touch in nearly every category. There are still a few unique use cases that could shift the scales in the iPod's direction.

Which one you should buy

While the iPod touch lacks most basic modern abilities, there are still a few cases in which it may be the better choice.
While the iPod touch lacks most basic modern abilities, there are still a few cases in which it may be the better choice.


Whether an iPod touch actually makes sense for you depends on why you're buying a smart device. As far as performance and capabilities are concerned, the iPhone SE is going to beat out its non-cellular cousin on just about every metric.

If you need a smartphone or even just a smart device that can keep up with today's software, then opt for the iPhone SE. It's going to be better in virtually all regards.

Users who are buying a secondary device for their kids and want an additional layer of protection may want to give the iPod touch another look, however. It's especially well-suited to being a low-cost media device for watching video content or playing games. Connected to a home Wi-Fi network, it's could make a great smart home controller or remote.

The iPod touch exists for enterprise, and it exists for the lowest possible price point -- albeit with compromises -- to get into the iOS ecosystem. Restaurants, and amusement parks use them en masse for order-taking and point of sale. Parents can dole one out to a kid for education or entertainment for $199, instead of a $400 and up phone.

And, since the iPod touch can't connect to cellular, it offers some privacy benefits over smartphones. There's no cell tower tracking or SIM issues to be had here. Many of its features (like Apple Arcade or other App Store games) can be used off of wireless networks, and can certainly be played on Wi-Fi.

There are uses for the iPod touch, and we're glad it exists, at the price it sits. This said, we feel that the iPhone SE is the best low-cost entry into iOS. Sure, it's $399, but the better screen and a four-year newer processor themselves are worth the price of admission not even considering the LTE connectivity on the device -- and it is far better future-proofed than the iPod touch is.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,734member
    The iPT makes sense in some situations. I carried a dumb feature-phone and an iPT for several years. I didn’t use the phone much and I had WiFi just about everywhere I went so it worked well, and saved me a chunk of cash. 
    cgWerks
  • Reply 2 of 18
    shaminoshamino Posts: 481member
    I have a 256G iPod Touch.  I use it because I can carry my entire music library with me, download podcasts over the Wi-Fi, and listen for hours without draining my phone's battery.

    I also use it for games because my phone (an iPhone 6+) has less RAM, so many of the games I like don't work there anymore.

    The are only two things I wish the iPod Touch would have:
    • An ambient light sensor.  The Touch's display doesn't automatically brigten/dim based on ambient light
    • Suffle-by-album in the music app.  But to be fair, I don't think iOS ever had this.  But it's a feature I love on my old iPod Classic.  Apple really should add this to iOS, but after all these years, I'm not expecting it.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 3 of 18
    MisterKitMisterKit Posts: 440member
    Cheap refers to quality. Inexpensive refers to price. The new SE is not cheap.
    Beats
  • Reply 4 of 18
    andy-ukandy-uk Posts: 26member
    I was always a fan of the iPod Touch, I think iPhone users can easily forget just how incredibly small and light it is, but I think you are right, the iPhone SE 2 and the base model iPad are the current iOS entry points. I baled out on the iPod Touch after the last upgrade when they boosted the processor to the A10 Fusion but left the battery at the same capacity. The disparity between processor power and battery capacity in my opinion limits its usefulness so that was when I bought a second hand iPhone 7 Plus which also has the A10 Fusion processor but with a much bigger battery and I must admit I really like it.
  • Reply 5 of 18
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,624member
    I haven’t seen an iPod Touch in half a decade.  Buy the iPhone SE and disable the wireless.

    If you can’t afford the iPhone SE, use a hand-me-down iPhone 6s (etc).

    When I was shopping around for wireless carriers, one of them offered the iPhone 7 for $50.  Who knows, maybe that will be the iPhone 8 soon.

    Point is, paying hundreds for an iPod is crazy.

  • Reply 6 of 18
    i wish they would make an ipod touch the size of the new SE.
  • Reply 7 of 18
    This is the beginning of the end for the iPod Touch.
    With the iPhone SE, the IPT can be phased out.
    The lower price SE with less storage will net more revenue than the IPT lower storage.
    End of an era.
  • Reply 8 of 18
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,532member
    iPhone SE should have been the new iPod(A12) and the new iPhone should have been a smaller size.

    Just yesterday my Korean friend who's a huge Samsung user held my iPhone 5s and couldn't stop talking about how he liked the size. He even offered to trade his new Samsung iWannabe for my 5s. No way in hell but he kept begging.

    He's in his early 20s and has good eyesight so yes, people still like the iPhone 5 size.
    cecil4444
  • Reply 9 of 18
    Walk around with that 4-inch screen for a week. I understand it's not a phone but that screen sucks too much and the rest of it is an anemic mess. It's old technology that's barely worth a hundred and it will wind up in millions of drawers, forgotten.
    edited April 2020
  • Reply 10 of 18
    Walk around with that 4-inch screen for a week. I understand it's not a phone but that screen sucks too much and the rest of it is an anemic mess. It's old technology that's barely worth a hundred and it will wind up in millions of drawers, forgotten.
    Totally understand if that is your experience, but I hope you can understand that not everyone shares the opinion that a bigger screen is always better. There are many users who do prefer the smaller screen and smaller form factor of the 2019 iPod Touch and iPhone SE 1st Gen. I for one did own the iPhone 6 (same size display as new iPhone SE 2nd Gen) but never felt comfortable with the relatively larger size of the screen or device. When the first SE was released 18 months later I jumped at the opportunity to have a smaller device again and never looked back. A smaller screen allows for one-handed use, and for many of us that is of higher personal value than a bigger screen. Full stop. I for one would gladly pay top dollar if Apple ever developed an iPhone with a smaller screen again.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 11 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,720member
    AI, you should also be comparing the iPod touch to the original SE, as that would be a likely the crowd considering the iPod touch (ie. dumb-phone + iPod touch). But, I guess the 2GB of RAM kind of ruins that one from the get-go, as support for it will probably drop when it does for the original SE. I wonder if Apple will make a newer iPod touch?

    DAalseth said:
    The iPT makes sense in some situations. I carried a dumb feature-phone and an iPT for several years. I didn’t use the phone much and I had WiFi just about everywhere I went so it worked well, and saved me a chunk of cash. 
    Yeah, I did that for years too before getting my SE. I hope I don't have to go back there, as having cellular and texting is handy.

    litoloop said:
    i wish they would make an ipod touch the size of the new SE.
    Heh, and I wish they'd make the new SE the size of the iPod touch!
  • Reply 12 of 18
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,265administrator
    cgWerks said:
    AI, you should also be comparing the iPod touch to the original SE, as that would be a likely the crowd considering the iPod touch (ie. dumb-phone + iPod touch). But, I guess the 2GB of RAM kind of ruins that one from the get-go, as support for it will probably drop when it does for the original SE. I wonder if Apple will make a newer iPod touch?
    This is forthcoming.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 13 of 18
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,034member
    DAalseth said:
    The iPT makes sense in some situations. I carried a dumb feature-phone and an iPT for several years. I didn’t use the phone much and I had WiFi just about everywhere I went so it worked well, and saved me a chunk of cash. 
    I paid zero $ On Xfinity mobile on unlimited talk and text for 4 lines with free Xfinity Wifi everywhere. Still, I find public Wifi sucks ball big time. So, I used carrier LTE.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 14 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,720member
    fallenjt said:
    DAalseth said:
    The iPT makes sense in some situations. I carried a dumb feature-phone and an iPT for several years. I didn’t use the phone much and I had WiFi just about everywhere I went so it worked well, and saved me a chunk of cash. 
    I paid zero $ On Xfinity mobile on unlimited talk and text for 4 lines with free Xfinity Wifi everywhere. Still, I find public Wifi sucks ball big time. So, I used carrier LTE.
    Adam Curry on No Agenda talks about this stuff (ie. semi-off grid) quite a bit, and recommends the GO FLIP 3:
    https://us.alcatelmobile.com/alcatel-go-flip-3/

    I guess with a few settings and not using the search, you're pretty set. And, it can act as a WiFi hotspot to your other device. It would be a pain to go back to 2 devices. But, as mentioned above, I also worry about the iPod touch's longevity with lower RAM.
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Wow! Could it be I get to be the first (only?)
    person to say this article is remiss in not comparing the iPod touch’s excellent ability to make phone calls via MagicJack app!!

    Talk about saving a ton of money 💰 via $99/5 yr. (originally $79) unlimited calls within US . I’ve been using my iPod (currently 6 gen) and my iPad Air (1st gen ) WiFi only devices as my main mobile and home phone since MagicJack’s humble beginnings as a VOIP phone company.  

    Admittedly in the early days when it was pretty much McDonalds and Starbucks that had free WiFi, THAT landscape has changed considerably!

    As a footnote, I also own a Android ZTE Cell for travel & emergency with AT&T that I bi-monthly put $25 for .10 per minute rate that I hardly ever use. Only drawback their minutes don’t rollover. 😠 Example use would be for a dessert drive to Vegas so not to be devoured by Vultures should my car break down!  Capisce? 😎
  • Reply 16 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,720member
    Wow! Could it be I get to be the first (only?)
    person to say this article is remiss in not comparing the iPod touch’s excellent ability to make phone calls via MagicJack app!!

    Talk about saving a ton of money 💰 via $99/5 yr. (originally $79) unlimited calls within US . I’ve been using my iPod (currently 6 gen) and my iPad Air (1st gen ) WiFi only devices as my main mobile and home phone since MagicJack’s humble beginnings as a VOIP phone company.  
    Heh, yeah, I've been using VoIP for most of our phone services since like 2005. (Back when it was tricky, because the telcos would mess with your packets to try and disrupt it!) It does work quite well these days, assuming you have Internet access. But, certainly direct cellular data on a device is quite convenient. I'd rather not go back to 2 devices, but I also don't know if I'm willing to go with a bigger device... AND all the additional tracking coming our way.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    shaminoshamino Posts: 481member
    I haven’t seen an iPod Touch in half a decade.  Buy the iPhone SE and disable the wireless.
    Assuming you can operate the phone without a SIM card installed.  At various times Apple has enabled or disabled the ability to operate this way.  Especially the first time you power-on a new phone.

    cgWerks said:
    But, I guess the 2GB of RAM kind of ruins that one from the get-go, as support for it will probably drop when it does for the original SE.
    Probably not at the same time.  The original SE was equivalent to an iPhone 5.  The current iPod Touch is equivalent to an iPhone 7 (at least with respect to CPU and RAM).

    cgWerks said:
    I wonder if Apple will make a newer iPod touch?
    This is forthcoming.
    I hope so.  As Apple has said on many occasions, the iPod Touch is a very popular device.  Parents are buying it so their children can have a gaming platform without having to give them cell phone service.

    I love mine as a gaming platform and a music/podcast player.  Yes, I could do that with a phone, but by keeping separate devices I can use it until the battery dies without losing my ability to call/text other people.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,265administrator
    shamino said:
    cgWerks said:
    I wonder if Apple will make a newer iPod touch?
    This is forthcoming.
    I hope so.  As Apple has said on many occasions, the iPod Touch is a very popular device.  Parents are buying it so their children can have a gaming platform without having to give them cell phone service.

    I love mine as a gaming platform and a music/podcast player.  Yes, I could do that with a phone, but by keeping separate devices I can use it until the battery dies without losing my ability to call/text other people.
    I responded to the section of the comment that I bolded, not the part you snipped out here. The "This is forthcoming" refers to the comparison piece that cgWerks was asking about.

    A new iPod touch was rumored for about a year before release. There is no similar rumor now.
    edited April 2020 cgWerks
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