The iPhone SE is Apple’s budget-friendly iPhone, offering flagship performance at half the price of Apple’s top-end iPhones. The problem is that the third-gen iPhone SE sports the same core design and display as the iPhone 8, a phone first released back in 2017.
It certainly looks a little dated compared to mid-range Android competition, and while rumours suggested that could all change with the next iPhone SE, more recent whispers suggest Apple has canned the fourth-gen iPhone SE altogether.
Here’s all there is to know about the next iPhone SE right now, from release and pricing speculation to the latest leaks and rumours.
When will the iPhone SE 4 be released? Has it been cancelled?
Apple doesn’t update the iPhone SE on a yearly basis, taking almost four years between the release of the first- and second-gen SE, and another two years between 2020’s iPhone SE 2 and the iPhone SE 3 released in March 2022.
That could mean Apple is beginning to settle into a 2-year release schedule for the iPhone SE, which means we should expect the iPhone SE 4 to be released in early 2024 – and initial online whispers backed that up.
The original source of release date speculation came from display analyst Ross Young, who predicted in January 2022 that a release in 2023 or 2024 was on the cards, along with other key details on what to expect – but more on that in a bit.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed in January 2023 that the iPhone SE 3 could be delayed until late 2024 or cancelled altogether among lower-than-expected sales of the mid-range iPhone. Per the analyst, the company needed to re-evaluate its strategy and pricing because the rumoured upgrade to a full-body display would mean a higher cost of production and, as a result, a higher price tag.
Kuo then followed up just days later in a medium.com post claiming that Apple decided to cancel the iPhone SE 4 altogether. Since then it’s been a bit back-and-forth.
In February 2023 Kuo tweeted that Apple had “restarted” the SE 4, while in April another analyst, Jeff Pu, agreed that the phone is on the way, and due to launch in 2025. The day after Pu’s report surfaced Kuo backtracked again, claiming that in fact the SE he’d reported on in February was only an engineering prototype after all and that “there are no plans for mass production and sales.” The next day he doubled down again in the clearest statement yet:
With all the contradictory reports and confusion, we think it’s fair to say that right now we simply don’t know if the iPhone SE 4 is still on the way or not, or when it could possibly launch if it is. Only time will tell.
The iPhone SE is designed to be Apple’s budget-friendly, affordable iPhone, so while there could be a slight variation in price compared to the current iPhone SE (as is the case compared to the iPhone SE 2), we can’t imagine the price will increase too much – if it launches at all, that is.
With that being said, we fully expect the iPhone SE 4 to cost around the same as the iPhone SE 3, despite the rumoured improvements to display and design. For reference, here’s how much the current iPhone SE range costs:
What to expect from the iPhone SE 4
Despite the fact that the iPhone SE 4 might’ve been canned by Apple, online whispers have provided a good idea of what Apple was working on – and if true, it was set to be the most exciting iPhone SE update in years.
The loudest online whispers suggested that the next iPhone SE would finally make the jump to a full-screen display, with Apple deciding between 5.7in and 6.1in – that’s according to display analyst Ross Young in an October 2021 tweet anyway.
The analyst then followed up on his prediction in early 2022, suggesting that the 5.7in display option has been locked in.
However, he later backtracked on the 5.7in claim. Discussing the upcoming smartphone with MacRumors in October 2022, the analyst said that Apple has decided on a 6.1in display complete with a notch cut-out.
Given the fact that Apple tends to use old iPhone shells – the iPhone SE 3 is based on the 4.7in iPhone 8 design, for example – this suggests that the next iPhone SE could have the same chassis as the 6.1in iPhone Xr, complete with a full-body display and all the other perks on offer from Apple’s full-screen display.
Jon Prosser also threw his hat into the prediction ring, also claiming that the next iPhone SE will sport an iPhone Xr-like form factor, and worked with concept designer Ian Zelbo to create renders of what to expect. Fair warning: it’s just a vanilla iPhone Xr.
Even without any specific changes to the Xr design, the upgrade would be a significant step forward for Apple’s budget iPhone line, especially considering most complaints about the 2022 iPhone SE are related to its dated design.
We’ll keep our eyes peeled for other rumours proving or refuting this, and we’ll update this section once we know more.
If Apple does intend on using the iPhone 11 chassis for the next iPhone SE, there’s hope that Apple will finally ditch the Touch ID-enabled Home button for a full-screen display with Face ID.
Display analyst Ross Young has claimed that the next-gen iPhone SE will include a notch – though he didn’t go as far as to explicitly confirm Face ID inclusion. There’s always the possibility that the notch will simply house the front-facing camera tech, with Apple opting for a Power button-based Touch ID scanner much like the iPad Air and iPad Mini.
Tech aside, the question is, which notch will the iPhone SE get? While logic dictates it’ll have the large notch associated with the iPhone 11, as with the rest of the chassis, there is the smaller Face ID notch available on the iPhone 13 range and the snazzy Dynamic Island tech of the iPhone 14 Pro range to consider. Apple will likely have made Dynamic Island tech available on the entire flagship iPhone range by 2024, so the latter is technically possible, though we still think it’s unlikely.
Rather unsurprisingly, the next iPhone SE is expected to have an upgraded chipset – but what will it offer?
In recent years, the iPhone SE has matched the flagship iPhone range in terms of processing power. It’s one of the biggest selling points of Apple’s budget iPhone compared to the Android competition, and we can’t imagine that’ll change anytime soon.
So, if the iPhone SE is to be released in late 2023 or early 2024, it could feature the yet-unannounced A17 Bionic, expected to be the chipset in the 2023 iPhone 15 range, though likely with less RAM.
Ming-Chi Kuo suggests this will continue to be the case, though he does predict that it’ll increase to 4GB, a 25% increase compared to the 3GB of the current model.
Tech Advisor’s Deputy Editor, Dom covers everything that runs on electricity, from phones and laptops to wearables, audio, gaming, smart home, and streaming – plus he’s a regular fixture on the Tech Advisor YouTube channel.