Galaxy SE and Pixel SE: If Samsung and Google released $400 iPhone SE 2022 equivalents

Galaxy SE and Pixel SE: If Samsung and Google released $400 iPhone SE 2022 equivalents

Even though it sure looks like it, this story was never meant to be appear as a practical joke. Anyway… I’m genuinely amazed by how Apple is able to pull off something like the iPhone SE (2022).

For those who are too young or #blessed to know, the iPhone SE is mostly a 2014 iPhone 6, with pretty much just one 2022 hardware component inside it and this, of course, is the A15 Bionic processor that’s powering the phone. Oh, the SE also comes with the iPhone 8’s camera sensors – front and back.

Although several insiders have now reported that Apple is scaling down iPhone SE (2022) production due to lower than expected demand, rest assured that Cupertino’s cheapest iPhone will most likely outsell any Android flagship released in 2022 – that’s just the phone world we live in.

Most people in the US, UK, Europe or elsewhere aren’t willing to spend flagship phone money on Android flagships. The iPhone SE (2020) was the eight best-selling phone of 2021, surpassing any Android flagship, and behind just two low-budget Android devices – Samsung’s Galaxy A12 and Redmi 9A by Xiaomi (sixth and seventh spot).

So, Apple’s SE magic tricks led me to a fictional question that’s still quite fun to answer…

What if Samsung and Google, who currently make some of the best flagship and mid-range phones on the market, pulled an Apple and launched 2014-2015 phones with new processors and sold them for roughly $400?To make it easier, just imagine that instead of launching the very well-rounded Galaxy A53 (5G), Samsung launched what’s essentially a Galaxy S6 and called it the “Galaxy SE” at a price of $430. And then, of course, Google would have to replace its not-yet-announced Google Pixel 6A with a… wait for it…  Motorola Nexus 6.

What could go wrong?!

Spoiler: A ton. There are many reasons even the biggest Android phone makers can’t emulate Apple’s “courageous” iPhone SE move. But it’s not all bad…

Galaxy SE (2022): What Samsung’s iPhone SE equivalent phone would look like

Galaxy SE design

Starting off with design, it’s somewhat ironic, but also understandable that the Galaxy S6 will actually look a tad more modern than the iPhone SE, since Samsung’s 2015 flagship phone had thinner bezels than the iPhone.

It’d also match the glass sandwich and aluminium build of Apple’s phone, as well as the home button that doubles as a fingerprint reader. For the record, Samsung’s Galaxy SE might or might not have an IP rating for dust and water resistance – the Galaxy S6 didn’t offer that, but since it’s 2022, it’s pretty fair to go ahead and assume that Samsung will add this feature.

Galaxy SE display

When it comes to display, the imaginary Galaxy SE would come with a 5.1-inch 2K, AMOLED screen, which would look better than the LCD display on Apple’s affordable iPhone, thanks to having better contrast and higher resolution.The high-refresh-rate question will divide opinions here, since Samsung’s current mid-range phones offer 120Hz displays. However, since we’re assuming Samsung would like to cut costs like Apple actually does and since the idea of the story is such that we are looking for an Apples to Apples comparison, let’s say “no 120Hz screen”.

Galaxy SE battery and charging

The fictional Galaxy SE would either be powered by the same 2550 mAh battery that’s found in the original Galaxy S6, or by a slightly larger cell, if we take into account what Apple has done with the iPhone SE (2022).

The Galaxy SE would also come with wireless charging, which would make it quite contemporary. Of course, true fast charging will be nowhere to be found, just like on the iPhone SE. Not to mention, even Samsung and Apple’s 2022 flagship phones don’t offer real fast charging.

Galaxy SE performance

And here comes the kicker.

If we assume the “Galaxy SE” will follow Apple’s example, this dated-looking Galaxy SE would be powered by a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, perhaps with 8GB of RAM. Speaking of memory, storage would start at 64GB (like the iPhone) without a slot for a micro SD card, since the original Galaxy S6 also didn’t have one (for comparison, Samsung’s current mid-range phones still offer memory expansion).

Speaking of performance, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Although mid-range phones are getting faster, the lack of flagship chipsets in them can be felt. Especially on devices like the Galaxy A53, which is much more likely to stutter or show lag when pushed to its limits, compared to something like an iPhone SE. So, a proper flagship chip in a mid-range Galaxy actually doesn’t sound bad at all.

Then again, like the A15 Bionic does for the iPhone SE (2022), Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip wouldn’t just make the “Galaxy SE” run as well as a Galaxy S22 Ultra, but it’d also elevate a few other areas of the whole experience, most notably the camera performance, which leads us to…

Galaxy SE camera

Although 12MP photos are all the rage today (phones with 48, 50, 108MP cameras still take 12MP photos), that wasn’t exactly the case back in 2014-2015. For starters, the Galaxy S6 came with just one camera on the back, and this was a 16MP, f/1.9, 1/2.6-inch sensor with OIS, which is somewhat larger than the one found in the iPhone 8, and respectively iPhone SE (2022), which comes with 1/3-inch sensors.However, as seen in recent comparisons, photos taken with the iPhone SE (2022) are leaps and bounds ahead of the iPhone SE (2020) when it comes to sheer detail, especially in low light. Videos are also of greater quality, thanks to Apple’s incredible processing, aided by the A15 Bionic.

And if the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 would help the Galaxy S6’s tiny sensor take great photos during the day, the lack of Night Mode will be a real challenge. Yes, the “Galaxy SE” wouldn’t have Night Mode, because the iPhone SE still doesn’t. Come on, Apple?!

Moreover, since the iPhone SE comfortably competes with Android flagships when it comes to video quality, it’s very safe to assume that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 won’t help Samsung’s SE much in that regard, given the dated camera hardware.

Google Pixel SE (2022): What Google’s iPhone SE equivalent phone would look like

Google Pixel SE design

Moving on to Google’s hypothetical iPhone SE equivalent, we have the Motorola-made Nexus 6, which was one of the biggest phones of its time – noticeably bigger and heavier even than Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus.

Although it won’t follow in Apple’s footsteps for a compact SE device, this change would actually make the Nexus 6 quite contemporary, given that even mid-range phones today are bigger and much heavier than they used to be in 2015.Keeping the “Pixel SE” as authentic as possible means that this phone shouldn’t have a home button, which, of course, made way for a pair of true stereo speakers on the Nexus 6 – something which many fans miss to this day.

The other controversial omission on Google’s hypothetical “Pixel SE” would be the lack of a fingerprint reader, since the Nexus 6 didn’t come with one. So, you’d either need to think of a good passcode or a pattern (remember those?), or Google would have to add a fingerprint reader to the back, side, or display of the “Pixel SE”. I’ll be willing to make an exception, since biometric security on phones is pretty important nowadays. 

Interestingly, the lack of a fingerprint reader on the front also made the top and bottom bezels on the Nexus 6 quite thin in comparison to the iPhone 6 and even Galaxy S6. Of course, none of these phones hold a candle to the LG G3 in that regard, but since LG’s mobile phone business is now dead, that’s about as much attention this amazing phone would get for now.

Google Pixel SE display

Sure, the Nexus 6 was a huge device back in the day, but I dare to say it didn’t waste much space. Apart from the front-firing stereo speakers, Motorola and Google’s love child packed a whole 6-inches of screen real estate, which put phones like the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 to shame.

So, yes… more points to Google here, since the big display would definitely make the Nexus 6 feel fresh-er than the iPhone SE in 2022. This was a 2K, 60Hz, AMOLED screen too, which made it one of the best displays for enjoying media back in the day.

As a matter of fact, if this screen could get as bright as some of today’s OLEDs, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be considered great even in 2022.

Google Pixel SE battery and charging

Unfortunately, the battery situation on the Nexus 6 wasn’t as great as the display.Google’s phone packed what was a huge 3220 mAh cell back in the day, but similarly to Google’s latest Pixel 6 Pro, this didn’t help it gain any meaningful endurance advantage over phones with much smaller batteries. The irony, Google…

This means that battery life on the Nexus 6 today would be just about average or even below average – perhaps on an iPhone SE (2020) level, which is to say… barely usable for most people. On the bright side, the Nexus 6 featured wireless charging. Yey?!

Google Pixel SE performance

But here’s where it gets interesting…

If a year ago a Google phone would be expected to pack a mid-range Qualcomm chip, today these get Tensor. In fact, Google’s actual Tensor processor from the Pixel 6 is indeed expected to make an appearance on the actually real mid-range Pixel 6A (expected in May). 

Not only there’s no doubt that Tensor would elevate the performance of a 2014 Google phone like the Nexus 6, but it’d also make it so much smarter than any other device on the market. Live Translate, instant voice typing, HDRnet for videos, Magic Eraser, Face Unblur, and on-device Google Assistant processing are all things that you can’t find in any other mid-range Android phone today, let alone the iPhone SE.

On the other hand, Tensor isn’t nearly as capable when compared to Apple’s A15 Bionic or even the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 when it comes to raw power/benchmarks. We’re yet to see if this disparity in numbers will result in a slower Pixel 6 over time but, for now, it’s safe to say that performance won’t be an issue for the fictional Pixel SE, since it isn’t for the Pixel 6.

Google Pixel SE camera

And we come to Google’s favorite category, especially when old camera sensors are involved. To put the record straight, the 2015 Nexus 6 came with a single 13MP, f2.0, 1/3.1-inch rear camera with OIS.

Now, sure, back in 2014-2015 this hardware didn’t take the Nexus 6 very far. Both the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 took better videos than Google’s flagship, and while daylight photos were certainly comparable, Google’s super-small sensor struggled a lot in low light, where the Galaxy S6 had a massive lead.

But of course, luckily for Google, this isn’t 2014. Sure, Sundar Pichai & Co have made some exceptional progress when it comes to hardware thanks to Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, but where Google really shines is software image processing.

Hence, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that this dated and mediocre camera sensor paired with the Pixel 6’s post-processing would yield out some beautiful photos, which can rival those from a Galaxy S22 or iPhone 13, let alone the iPhone SE. I know that because Google’s pulled the same trick many times… many years… with many phones.

Looking at you, Pixel, Pixel 2, Pixel 3, Pixel 4, Pixel 5, and everything in between.

In the end: Samsung and Google aren’t Apple

Thank you for making it to the end of this bizarre story. Now that we know what Samsung and Google’s iPhone SE 2022 equivalents would look like, it’s very easy to conclude why they’ll absolutely… never come to life.

See, if you ignore the size, thickness and difference in materials, Apple has only had a few main iPhone designs – or at least that’s what things look like from the perspective of the average iPhone owner.

The first one, of course, was the original iPhone design that grew in size through the years, but kept virtually the same home button with similarly big bezels up until the iPhone 8. This is the home-button iPhone. Apple kept it going for ten years and has now revived it to make a total of 15 years of iPhones with a home button. Let that sink in…

Then came iPhone X, introducing the infamous notch design that’s present on iPhones to this day, and reportedly said to start making its way out this year, thanks to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

What I’m trying to say is that going back to a 2017, or even a 2014 design doesn’t really feel like going back in time for Apple – a company that’s counted on a couple of main designs for over 15 years – especially as far as the front of the iPhone is concerned.

Furthermore, Apple puts out just a handful of phones every year, making it much easier to differentiate between different iPhone models. The same can’t be said about Samsung, for example, which uses the opposite business model, releasing phones at each and every price point, all year long.

A Galaxy SE or a Pixel SE won’t “cut it” in today’s Android world

A Galaxy S6 or a Nexus 6 with a Snapdragon and Tensor chips refreshes in 2022 would be a genuine nod to the nostalgic Android fan – just like the very first iPhone 5-inspired iPhone SE was for Apple users in 2016.

But it’s not 2016 anymore and as we established Android isn’t Apple. Other than a wink at the OG Android user, releasing such a device would be a suicidal mission for companies like Samsung and Google, which aren’t just competing with Apple but also with the likes of Xiaomi, Motorola, and OnePlus, which release some properly aggressive mid-range devices with flagship chips, and sometimes even flagship cameras.

That aside, the Nexus 6 doesn’t even have a fingerprint reader – that’d be deemed unacceptable in 2022. And what about those tiny batteries, and 64GB of storage for $400? You can’t do that when OnePlus and Xiaomi will give you flagship-killers for the same price. Also, a 60Hz screen feels significantly slower on an Android phone than it does on an iPhone, so giving high-refresh-rate screens up would be bananas for Android.

Anyway, it is now reported that the iPhone SE (2022) is Apple’s absolute last nod to the legendary iPhone 6 design, which became the best-selling smartphone of all time. Of course, the wheel will keep on turning, and we expect Apple to release another SE model in 2023-2024, but this time with a brand new design. A brand new design which…

Wait a minute! The notch-ed iPhone that came out in 2017?! Apple, how dare you!?!?

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