The iPhone SE (2020) is easily one of the best-value products in Apple’s entire catalogue, matched only by the iPad 10.2in (2020). But does the tech giant intend to change its sporadic update of the SE line to one that is more regular? We take a look at the rumours surrounding a possible new iPhone SE model that could arrive in 2021.
Apple’s approach to the iPhone SE hasn’t exactly been predictable. The original iPhone SE appeared way back in March 2016 and, aside from a storage bump in March 2017, then went four years without an update. In fact, Apple actually retired the iPhone SE in 2018, leaving many suspecting that the cheaper iPhone had had its day.
But the arrival of the iPhone SE (2020) in April 2020 was a welcome addition to the range and signalled that maybe Apple recognised the need for a more affordable option.
With all that being said, there’s no clear indication of when a new iPhone SE might be released. The most likely time slot is in September 2021 when Apple is due to unveil the iPhone 13 models but, going on the past pattern, there’s no guarantee this will happen, as all the previous SE devices have arrived in the Spring.
Here’s when the previous iPhone SE models made their debuts:
iPhone SE (16 & 64GB versions): 31 March 2016
iPhone SE (32GB & 64GB versions): 24 March 2017
iPhone SE (2020): 24 April 2020
Many industry watchers have speculated that there will be another iPhone SE, with Mac Otakara suggesting it could make an appearance alongside the AirPods 3 at an event in March, but the quite reliable Ming-Chi Kuo expects an Autumn 2021 release. So, it looks like a 2021 release could a possibility, even if the timings are in question right now.
However, JP Morgan supply chain analyst William Yang suggests that we shouldn’t expect a new iPhone SE in 2021 at all, predicting instead a release in the first half of 2022.
How much will the iPhone SE (2021) cost?
We don’t think Apple will stray too far from current pricing, as the iPhone range now has a good structure that keeps the various models available in their own strata without cannibalising those around them.
Here’s how they stack up:
iPhone SE – £399/$399
iPhone XR – £499/$499
iPhone 11 – £599/$599
iPhone 12 mini – £699/$699
iPhone 12 – £799/$799
iPhone 12 Pro – £999/$999
iPhone 12 Pro Max – £1,099/$1,099
The current iPhone SE (2020) starts at £399/$399 and we fully expect any updated version to do so as well.
What new features will we see in the iPhone SE (2021)?
As Apple is yet to even confirm the existence of a new iPhone SE, there are no official details currently available on what it may contain. Of course, that hasn’t stopped plenty of rumour mongering in the tech world, so here’s what we think you might see in the new iPhone SE.
The most obvious addition to a new model would be 5G connectivity. All of the iPhone 12 models that arrived in 2020 had this feature, and it’s one that we’ve also seen on a number of Android phones, including those at similar price points to the iPhone SE (2020). Models like the OnePlus Nord, Motorola Edge and Realme 7 5G, boast the feature, all of which you’ll find in our roundup of the best cheap 5G phones.
5G isn’t definite though, as the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 remain in the current catalogue, both above the iPhone SE, and neither of them had 5G connectivity.
A14 Bionic processor
Easily one of the most surprising things about the iPhone SE (2020) is that it received the same A13 Bionic processor as the iPhone 11 range that were the flagships at the time. If Apple follows suit and releases an iPhone SE upgrade in 2021, we think it’s likely that the upgrade may also feature the A14 Bionic found in the iPhone 13 line-up.
It won’t be a disaster if this doesn’t happen, as the A13 is a very fast processor, but Apple didn’t skimp on the iPhone SE (2020) so there’s signs that the same might true of a 2021 edition. JP Morgan analyst William Yang believes so, suggesting in a recent note to investors that the next-gen iPhone SE will sport an upgraded chipset, likely in the form of the A14 Bionic.
While the iPhone SE (2020) may only have been given a makeover last year, taking on the frame of the iPhone 8 and its predecessors, some speculation has been doing the rounds that Apple may continue this practice with the new model. Moving into the roomier chassis of an iPhone XR or iPhone 11 would mean Apple could leave Touch ID behind and bring its full-screen iPhone experience to those who have previously baulked at the entry price.
Face ID is now well established, and as such the price of construction and parts should have dropped enough that it would be viable on a cheaper device. There’s also the advantage that moving to the iPhone XR or 11 frames would only require updating the innards of those models while delivering a true upgrade to the SE badge.
With so many rival cameras now featuring some kind of Night Mode, it would make sense that this low-light photography feature comes to the iPhone SE (2021). It’s off that the current SE doesn’t have one.
As you can see, there’s still much to be revealed about the new model of iPhone SE. We’ll be updating this article as more news appears, so be sure to check back. In the meantime, take a look at our guide to the best iPhones and best iPhone 12 deals to see which will suit your needs.
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