Apple rumors can be way, way out there sometimes. But often, when there’s enough noise, there’s something going on — even if the rumors aren’t firm enough to figure out exactly what it’ll be. And over the past few months, more and more rumors (admittedly, sketchy ones) have pointed toward Apple updating the iPhone SE.
The iPhone SE was introduced in March 2016 and updated with more storage in March 2017. It’s now just over a year later, and we’re yet to hear anything from Apple about what comes next for its only remaining small phone.
But there are some signs an updated model could be in the works. Earlier this month, regulatory filings from Apple revealed model numbers that appear to belong to new iPhones. There’s no other iPhone that Apple’s likely to release soon; and the last time regulatory filings revealed an Apple product early (this year’s iPad), the device was revealed one month later. So it sure seems like something new is coming soon.
That’s bolstered by a number of reports that an iPhone SE 2 is coming, albeit from sources with mixed degrees of reliability. They’ve been exhaustively tracked by MacRumors, but the rundown includes reports from Economic Daily News, Digitimes, and Mac Otakara. All that said, there is one notable voice suggesting an SE 2 might not be coming: the typically reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who believes it’s “unlikely” Apple will have the development resources to make it happen this quarter.
So if the SE 2 is coming, what should we expect? Apple isn’t likely to change much — after all, the point of this phone is that it’s more affordable — it starts at $349 — relative to other iPhones. Really, there are just two main rumors so far: first, that Apple will upgrade its processor from the A9 to the A10, which is used in the iPhone 7. And second, that its back might be changed to glass, so that it can support wireless charging. But rumors don’t agree on whether that’s a sure thing.
A video began circulating today showing what this new phone could look like. There’s a very good chance this is a mockup though, so don’t take what you see here as proof the phone exists:
Otherwise, most parts of the phone are believed to stay the same, including the screen size and general design. Rumors have been mixed on whether the phone will add water resistance — something newer models include — or keep its headphone jack — something new models don’t.
If an iPhone SE 2 is happening this year, it seems likely that it’ll be released within the next month, and no later than early June, when Apple is holding its annual developer conference. Apple doesn’t usually launch new devices at that event, but it isn’t unheard of either. After that, we probably won’t see anything from Apple until September, when sequels to the iPhone 8 and X are due.
More than anything, there’s reason to believe Apple will update the iPhone SE simply because it’s an important phone. Even though it may seem like a device that Apple is putting minimal effort into — and that’s not necessarily wrong, either — it’s a phone that Apple is relying on to help it break into markets where people don’t typically purchase $700 phones. In particular, Apple sells and even manufactures the iPhone SE in India, where the average smartphone sells for $157 and rising.
After Apple began manufacturing the iPhone SE in India last year (allowing the phones to avoid tariffs and sell at lower prices), the company saw its revenue in the country double. But it’s a very competitive market. And while the iPhone may provide reliability, it’s going up against much flashier and more modern-looking phones, most notably those in Xiaomi’s Redmi line, which are also much cheaper. If Apple is serious about competing, it’ll likely want to keep updating the iPhone SE — or else make some other, newer phone available at a lower price.