Here are 6 great iPhone SE alternatives (but none are as compact)

Here are 6 great iPhone SE alternatives (but none are as compact)

Starting today, the Apple iPhone SE is now up for pre-order in the US and most Western markets.

And it's quite the unique phone: a 4" modern smartphone these days simply does not exist on Android. None.

However, there must be some alternatives? After all, the iPhone SE (where 'SE' stands for 'special edition') is not only small, it's also affordable: with a starting price of just around $400. Under the hood, it also packs top-notch hardware: the Apple A9 chip and Apple's best 12-megapixel iSight camera, all components in the high-end iPhone 6s.

So let us think: what are we looking for when we search for iPhone SE alternatives? We are looking for devices that are both affordable and relatively compact. With our criteria now all clear, it's time to check out the list of available options: Android phones at around $400 with a compact style and modern hardware.

#1: Samsung Galaxy S6



If you're not following the market closely, you'd be surprised how quickly one of last year's best phones, the Galaxy S6, has dropped in price. In fact, it's just a bit more expensive than the iPhone SE now: you can get it for $50 on a contract, while the iPhone SE requires zero dollar down payment. The Galaxy S6 at its base version also provides double the storage with 32GB of internal capacity, a neat wireless charging option, and Samsung Pay that works at many more places than Apple Pay. What's more, the Galaxy S6 has also been updated to the latest version of Android, 6.0 Marshmallow, it sports a very fast system chip and one of the best cameras out there.


#2: LG G4



The LG G4 has dropped in value even further: a year after its launch, you can now get it for free on contract. In fact, if you're shopping for an unlocked version of the phone, the LG G4 is around $50 more affordable than the iPhone SE. It might not be as small, but it's one of the most compact 5.5" phones out there, it comes with the benefit of a very nice, warm-feeling leather back cover, it features one of the best cameras on any smartphone ever, and it features the expandable storage and removable battery options that the Apple iPhone lacks.



#3: Nexus 5X



The Google Nexus 5X might not be super compact, but it checks the bill: it sells for a much more affordable price than the iPhone SE and comes with not only a pure version of Android, but also one that works impressively fast. Yes, while there were some notable issues with the interface and the speed of the camera in the beginning, Google has recently pushed an update that fixes a lot of those, and the Nexus 5X experience is now much faster. Unlike the iPhone SE with its slower, first-gen Touch ID sensor, the Nexus 5X features an impressively quick fingerprint reader on the back of the phone that works like a charm, it's got a very good camera (just make sure to use the HDR+ mode for most shots), and has a front-firing speaker that is a nice extra.



#4: Xiaomi Mi 5



At an official retail price of some $300 in China, the only bad thing about the Xiaomi Mi 5 is that it's not officially available in the United States and Europe. And yes, you can import it, but it's a tedious process, the price usually goes up to around $400, and you won't get many essential 4G LTE bands. Quite the list of disclaimers. Still, we feel the Xiaomi Mi 5 is worth mentioning. It is the cheapest phone with the latest Snapdragon 820 system chip, the only current piece of silicon that truly goes neck-to-neck with the Apple A9 and even beats it in many regards. The Mi 5 has also got an excellent camera with an optical stabilization system that beats most phones, and a very feature-rich MIUI custom interface. If you want to be different than all the rest, the Mi 5 is definitely a good option that is cheaper than the iPhone SE and will fit the bill in terms of performance.



#5: Sony Xperia Z5 Compact



All aforementioned options were not really compact enough to go on an equal footing with the Apple iPhone SE. There is one Android phone that gets closer than the rest, though: the 4.7" Xperia Z5 Compact. If it was a great phone, it would easily be our number one pick here, but problem is that it's not. It has a terribly thick profile that does not feel good in the hand, it is not among the fastest and its cameras is not on par with the best. Still, this is not to say that it is a bad phone. It is just not excellent. If you value compactness, though, you should definitely consider it.



#6: Samsung Galaxy Alpha



Oh, no, PhoneArena, you did not include a two-year old Android phone in this list! How could you do this, PhoneArena?! Well, we did. After all, the iPhone SE is a design that dates back to the iPhone 5 from 2013. The Galaxy Alpha was Samsung's experimental phone in its transition to beautiful designs. It was overpriced at launch, but now you can still get it for around half the price of the iPhone SE. Is it worth it? Hell yes. It's one of our subjectively favorite designs with a very sleek and elegant body, it's got a 20nm processor that is not slow by any means, it has a very good camera and a replaceable battery (the built-in 32GB of storage is also double that in the base iPhone SE, but there's no microSD card slot on the Galaxy Alpha). Sure, it's a bit dated, but it's expected to get the latest Android Marshmallow update in June 2016, so it's still game.


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110 Comments

1. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

Those alternatives all destroy iPhone SE. Hands down! Especially Galaxy S6 and Xperia Z5 Compact.

3. S-R-K

Posts: 304; Member since: Mar 15, 2016

As well as the Alpha.

4. TimePass

Posts: 43; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Truth is iphone SE is best compact smartphone ever.

13. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

@TimePass iPhone SE is best iOS compact smartphone ever. But that isn't a necessity with Android OEMs. If Samsung wanted a 4-inch beast, it can make one. But we Droiders, we love large screens - 5" to say the least!

17. TimePass

Posts: 43; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Droiders love large screens - 5" LOL

24. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

Yes, Droiders love big large screen phones. 12.7cm to say the very least! Heck, I personally love phablets. I rock a 5.9" LG G Pro 2!!!

23. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

"But we Droiders, we love large screens - 5" to say the least!" So why the hell are you here if you all, at least you say so, don't give a squat about this phone and any smaller phones

27. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

Wiencon I came here to see the 6 alternatives which I read on this article's title. Who says I do not give a squat about small phones? I use a 3.5" phone as a back-up, and I am currently typing this comment with the 3.5" stuff!

60. Rocket

Posts: 630; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Your are right after owning the opo (5.5") i upgraded to the s7 but felt so small in my hands and had to exchanged for the beast note 5 :) So yes most of ( us) android users love phones with big screens.

94. Frank_Underwood

Posts: 31; Member since: Mar 22, 2016

"we love large screens"- Seriously, dude? Don't generalize, please! You, in no way, represent the entire Android community, for the love of god!

99. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

33. submar

Posts: 713; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

iPhone isn't a compact phone but with a compact screen size.

39. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

Right! @submar iPhone SE features a 4-inch screen in a body that can fit in a 4.7-inch one!

57. TimePass

Posts: 43; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

@adreno, please so me a device with 4.7 inch Droid phone with similar body of iphone SE.

61. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

Galaxy Alpha is only slightly bigger than iPhone SE, but packs a significantly bigger display. LG G3 is even more compact that iPhone 6S Plus, despite both featuring the same 5.5" screen!

97. TimePass

Posts: 43; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Are you mad, here we spoke only about iPhone SE, but you compare G3 with 6S. Please show me device with smaller dimensions then iPhone SE.

100. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

I did not say smaller dimensions than iPhone SE. I said the iPhone SE's dimensions could pack a 4.7" screen, instead of just 4"! LG G2 Mini has a 4.7" screen in 129 x 66 dimension.http://m.gsmarena.com/lg_g2_mini-6077.php iPhone SE with 4" has a meh 123 x 58 dimension.http://m.gsmarena.com/apple_iphone_se-7969.php Can you see that G2 mini has similar dimensions to the iPhone SE, despite packing 2cm more screen? If G2 mini was a 4.3", then it would be way smaller than 4" iPhone SE! Lmao.

95. Frank_Underwood

Posts: 31; Member since: Mar 22, 2016

So, what's the device with iPhone SE's dimensions with a 4.7 inch screen? All your comments *SCREAMS* !

96. Frank_Underwood

Posts: 31; Member since: Mar 22, 2016

So, what's the device with iPhone SE's dimensions with a 4.7 inch screen? All your comments *SCREAMS* Fanboyism.

101. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

LG G2 Mini. And 4" Galaxy Ace 4 is more compact than 4" iPhone SE. Fanboyism? More bashing and like name-calling.

107. TimePass

Posts: 43; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Iphone SE is the only compact device with flagship spec and finger print sensor. You can't compare this with other basic device which don't have finger print sensor.

6. aesthetics

Posts: 128; Member since: Oct 02, 2014

These 5"+ phones arent even alternatives....except for z5 compact and Alpha... SE is better than both to be honest..but also more expensive

9. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

@aesthetics They are all alternatives as far as one-hand usability goes, because they feature a Mini View mode which shinks the display downwards to 3.7" But as far as portability goes, yeah they aren't alternatives.

25. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Do those phone shrink down in pocket when I enable this mini view?

29. nodes

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

it will once it gets the update to Android N.

37. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

Wiencon! I said they feature a Mini View mode which shrinks the DISPLAY... Not the phone. Ok, let me say: The UI is srinked down to 3.7" for one-hand operations. You get it, yet?

53. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

I can't even now

62. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

15. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

If you're going to judge solely on CPU and GPU performance then Mi5 is the only one that can stand up. The rest are simply a years old performance and I don't see a reason they can convinced the buyer over the iPhone se

19. Adreno

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 12, 2016

"I can't see a reason they can convice the bhyer over the iphone se" You mean the buyer who is a fan of Apple or who is already invested in the iOS ecosystem. I too can't see a reason why iPhone SE can convince an Android buyer over those 6 alternatives. Lel.

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