The iPhone SE 2020 looks striking in red. At $399, it’s the most affordable iPhone you can buy.
It’s been two years since Apple launched its second-generation iPhone SE, and rumor has it that a third version of the tech giant’s budget iPhone is likely on tap for Apple’s March “Peek Performance” event set for this Tuesday. (Here’s how you can watch it live.)
The rumor mill is a persistent force, and it keeps dishing out details on what the iPhone SE 3 might look like. If you’ve been holding out for Apple’s budget bestseller, read on and keep checking back here for the latest buzz.
What to Expect With Apple’s Next Event
Apple’s next iPhone SE could arrive on March 8
Apple on Wednesday sent invites to the media for an event on March 8 at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET). A report from iMore says stock levels of the previous iPhone SE model have been dwindling in some Apple stores before the event. iMore also spotted a listing online for a new iPhone SE case with a release date of March 10, possibly supporting the rumor that the SE 3 could launch on or around the day of the Apple event.
In his PowerOn newsletter on Feb. 27, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman had said Apple is expected to introduce the 5G iPhone SE at such an event. This lines up with a research note from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who predicted that the third-gen version of the iPhone SE would likely appear in the first half of 2022.
Kuo’s rumored timeline was later echoed by a report from DigiTimes, which speculated the new 5G iPhone SE could be on its way with an updated A14 Bionic chip. Meanwhile, TrendForce had already narrowed the iPhone SE 3’s arrival to the first quarter of this year.
According to a February report from 91mobiles, Apple has imported three iPhone SE versions under the model numbers A2595, A2783 and A2784 to India for testing. This could indicate the phone’s approaching release. The report also suggests that the imported iPhone SE model has a price tag in India of 23,000 rupees — approximately $305 when converted.
Display analyst Ross Young, however, suggested in January that the new affordable iPhone could arrive in late April or early May. Although many rumors point to a spring release date for the third-gen iPhone SE, Young previously speculated that the iPhone SE Plus may debut in 2022 instead of the iPhone SE 3. Apple’s iPhone SE 3 may not make an appearance until 2024, according to Young.
Read more: Is the iPhone SE Still Worth Buying?
Face ID could be coming to the iPhone SE 3
There could be a new way to unlock your iPhone SE if this rumor comes true: Face ID. All of Apple’s current iPhones already feature Face ID except 2020’s iPhone SE reboot. Adding the ability to unlock your iPhone SE 3 with facial recognition would be a coup for fans of Apple’s midrange handset (especially since iOS 14.5 added an option for using Face ID while wearing a mask).
According to another PowerOn newsletter from Gurman, Apple plans to bring the face scanner to all relevant products — not only the iPhone SE 3, but all iPads and Macs, too.
Read more: iPhone SE 2020 Review
The iPhone SE 3 won’t get smaller or bigger
In a world of increasingly supersize smartphones, the iPhone SE has claimed bestseller status thanks in part to its diminutive size as well as its powerful combination of prices and features. The first-gen iPhone SE came in a petite 4-inch frame and was lauded by CNET’s Scott Stein for being “amazingly pocket-friendly” among other things. Apple’s second-gen iPhone SE wasn’t quite as small, but made up for it in might. (Apple equipped it with the flagship-level A13 Bionic chip, the same chip that powers each of the four iPhone 12 family members.)
With the upcoming iPhone SE 3, however, it looks like Apple won’t change the size, according to Kuo. Like the 2020 iPhone SE, the next-gen version will have a 4.7-inch screen. Apple may launch a plus-size iPhone SE along with it, however, for those who want a bigger-budget iPhone. More on that later. Remember, the iPhone SE has two main audiences: budget-conscious buyers who aren’t interested in paying $799 for an iPhone 13 (much less $999 for a Pro or $1,099 for a Pro Max) and those who prefer compact phones.
Read more: The Most Exciting Smartphones of 2022
A retro design for the iPhone SE 3
Although there’ve been rumors of Apple giving the iPhone SE 3 a major makeover, a report by Kuo has seemingly thrown cold water on them. In the report, seen by MacRumors, Kuo says the third-gen iPhone SE will be similar to existing SE models, which could indicate the retro design is here to stay. That means we’ll get the iPhone SE’s signature chunky bezels at the top and bottom, as well as a physical home button, possibly with Touch ID, for a more tactile user experience. (The latter detail could contradict the rumor of a FaceID addition, as Apple has never included both FaceID and a home button on the same phone.) Like the 2016 version, the upcoming iPhone SE is said to feature a single camera on the phone’s rear.
However, the iPhone SE 3 could still get a design makeover. According to a rumor from the Chinese site MyDrivers, reported on by Forbes, Apple’s next affordable iPhone will use the chassis of the iPhone XR rather than that of the iPhone 8.
The iPhone SE is small enough for a child or a woman’s front pants pockets.
The iPhone SE 3 tipped to get LCD display, 5G
Rumors point to Apple sticking with an LCD display for the third-gen SE, instead of upgrading to an OLED screen. OLEDs are typically more vibrant than their LCD counterparts, with richer contrast and inkier blacks. I’d love to see Apple go with an OLED for the SE 3 considering similarly priced phones like the OnePlus Nord and Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 10 Pro are rocking crisp OLED panels. But a report by Kuo said the iPhone SE 3 won’t bring many major changes, just incremental upgrades to things like 5G support and processor.
Read more: The Upcoming iPhone SE 3 Needs These 6 Upgrades
Will there be an iPhone SE Plus?
Short answer: Yes, there should be. Kuo has been talking about a larger iPhone SE for some time now, first predicting a late 2021 release before pegging the launch for the first half of 2022, which would potentially align with Apple’s usual spring launch of the iPhone SE. Tech YouTuber Jon Prosser posted on Twitter about the existence of a plus-size iPhone SE back in April 2020.
As mentioned above, Young speculates that the iPhone SE Plus could be coming in 2022. The rumored iPhone is said to feature 5G support and the same 4.7-inch LCD display as the current version of the iPhone SE.
For more, check out everything we know so far about the iPhone 14 and the Apple Watch 8 as well as new iPads and Macs. And here’s what we know about Apple’s next event.
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