The iPhone SE, also known as the budget-friendly iPhone, is making a grand return with the latest, cutting-edge processors borrowed from Apple’s top-tier phones.
However, a veil of uncertainty surrounds the release of the much-anticipated iPhone SE 4. Speculations and reports have painted a perplexing picture, and even renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has been oscillating between predictions of existence and cancellation.
Apple, true to its discreet nature, hasn’t dropped any hints about the future of iPhone SE models.
Yet, the retirement of the iPhone Mini leaves a significant void, making the iPhone SE more crucial as Apple’s compact, affordable smartphone option.
The Potential for iPhone SE 4 Improvement
The 2022 iPhone SE, as commended by my colleague Patrick Holland, was applauded for its budget-friendly price tag and the comfort of a familiar home button.
However, it did receive criticism for its absence of night mode photography and a somewhat outdated design. Competitors in the Android realm, such as Samsung and Google, have made significant strides in enhancing their budget offerings.
Anticipation for Apple’s next budget iPhone is building, and though it’s impossible to predict with certainty, there are intriguing indicators.
Apple has remained tight-lipped, declining to provide any comments regarding the future of the iPhone SE.
iPhone SE 4 Release Date Remains a Mystery
The fundamental question hanging over the iPhone SE 4 is whether it will see the light of day at all.
Ming-Chi Kuo’s predictions have experienced a rollercoaster ride in recent years. In 2019, he suggested that Apple was crafting an iPhone SE with a bezel-less design reminiscent of the iPhone XR.
However, the two subsequent iPhone SE versions maintained the traditional iPhone 8-inspired design. This discrepancy raises questions about whether Kuo’s initial model was shelved or postponed.
Kuo’s predictions for 2023 are no less baffling. In January, he indicated that a planned iPhone SE for 2024 had been scrapped, only to reverse his stance in February, suggesting that the project had been resurrected.
In April, he again modified his prediction, proposing that the previously mentioned model might serve as an engineering prototype for an Apple in-house 5G baseband chip. Intriguingly, his earlier statements had implied that the iPhone SE 4 would incorporate this 5G chip.
Contradicting the uncertainty, a recent report from MacRumors adds a layer of intrigue, hinting at a substantial overhaul of the iPhone SE.
The release pattern of the iPhone SE has not been as consistent as Apple’s flagship iPhones. The first iPhone SE hit the market in March 2016, followed by the second generation in April 2020.
The third-generation iPhone SE made its debut in March 2022. A 2024 launch would align with the recent trend, though the four-year gap between the initial two models complicates any predictions.
A Glimpse into the Design
If the iPhone SE 4 is indeed in the works, there’s potential for it to feature a 6.1-inch screen akin to Apple’s contemporary flagship models. In contrast, the existing iPhone SE boasts a 4.7-inch screen with substantial top and chin bezels, reminiscent of the iPhone 8.
The exact model Apple will draw inspiration from remains uncertain. Beyond Kuo’s 2019 speculation, serial leaker Jon Prosser and Ross Young, the CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants, have floated the possibility of the next iPhone SE adopting a design akin to the iPhone XR.
However, a report from MacRumors in September 2023 suggests that the iPhone SE 4 will adopt a modified version of the iPhone 14’s chassis.
Kuo’s February 2023 insight hinted at the iPhone SE 4 featuring an OLED screen, a significant advancement for Apple’s budget offering. The MacRumors report aligns with this, indicating that the upcoming iPhone SE will embrace OLED display technology.
OLED screens are renowned for their deep blacks and superior contrast compared to LCD counterparts.
Traditionally, Apple has reserved this technology for its Pro series. Nevertheless, Kuo’s April revision cast a shadow of doubt, suggesting that the speculated device could simply be an engineering prototype.
Face ID or Touch ID: The Biometric Conundrum
Fans of Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor might be in for disappointment. MacRumors suggests that the next iPhone SE will adopt Face ID, mirroring the approach of modern iPhones.
This contradicts Kuo’s 2019 prediction, which hinted at a smaller notch area without Face ID and Touch ID, the latter being integrated into the power button.
This approach resembles the implementation in Apple’s 10th-generation iPad, the fifth-generation iPad Air, and the sixth-generation iPad Mini, where Touch ID resides in the top button.
Potential Features Borrowed from the iPhone 15
Apple’s forthcoming budget iPhone could share a few features with the iPhone 15, particularly in response to European regulations that prompted Apple to adopt USB-C in its latest flagship.
It’s plausible that the iPhone SE 4 will also transition to USB-C, a significant departure from the traditional Lightning connector.
The surprise revelation in MacRumors’ report is the inclusion of the Action button, a feature currently exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.
This choice raises questions, as the Action button is a prominent distinguishing factor between Apple’s premium and entry-level models.
MacRumors also hints at a 48-megapixel single camera for the upcoming iPhone SE, a potential alignment with the iPhone 15, which also boasts a 48-megapixel primary camera.
However, unlike Apple’s pricier offerings, the iPhone SE may feature only one rear camera.
In contrast, the standard iPhone 15 boasts wide and ultra-wide cameras, while the Pro versions elevate the game with wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto cameras.
The Power Under the Hood
Historically, the iPhone SE has inherited the same processor as Apple’s most recent flagship iPhone.
For instance, the 2022 iPhone SE sported the same chip as the iPhone 13, which graced the market in September 2021. Given that featuring Apple’s latest mobile chip is typically the iPhone SE’s forte, it’s challenging to envision a departure from this pattern.
Nevertheless, Kuo threw a curveball by suggesting that the next iPhone SE might feature an Apple-developed 5G chip.
The subsequent revision to his estimate leaves room for speculation about the role of this device as an engineering prototype to test the 5G chip.
MacRumors also adds to the intrigue by asserting that the iPhone SE 4 will come equipped with an Apple-manufactured 5G modem.
Apple’s acquisition of Intel’s modem business in 2019 fueled speculation about the company’s shift toward building its own 5G modems, potentially replacing Qualcomm as a supplier.
Developing in-house chips provides Apple with greater control over release schedules and product features, a strategy that has consistently defined the company’s approach across its product range.
Although Apple has not unveiled its long-term plans, Qualcomm’s CEO, Cristiano Amon, expressed expectations that Apple would introduce its homegrown modems by 2024.
In conclusion, the fourth-generation iPhone SE emerges as a captivating enigma.
As the leaks, rumors, and reports swirl, the budget iPhone from Apple may be poised for a substantial leap forward in design, functionality, and screen size, possibly in the near future.
It’s an exciting time for Apple enthusiasts eagerly awaiting this potentially game-changing addition to the iPhone family.