Last year, Apple rebooted its budget iPhone SE smartphone, packing premium features into a compact form factor for a snip of the price of the iPhone 12.
As we head into Spring, we're curious about whether Apple could release an updated version of its budget handset. But concept artist 4RMD (opens in new tab) has whet our appetite and come up with an iPhone SE 3 design that draws inspiration from the iPhone 5s.
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Despite the iPhone 12 mini being a flop — likely because of the price tag and people's appetite for larger phones — the iPhone SE was rather well-received and shows there's still interest for a smaller, keenly-priced iPhone.
The concept design uses the same body, dimensions, and overall design of the iPhone 5s, but spruces it up with rumored features like a punch-hole camera. It also updates aspects like the screen to make it more palatable in a world bristling with budget phones with high-end specs.
Apple has been tipped to scrap the iconic notch on its recent iPhones and replacing it with an under-display camera. The move may not be on the cards for the iPhone 13 but by the time the iPhone 14 rolls around, it could be a reality. The iPhone SE 3 concept bridges that gap with a 12MP punch-hole camera, paired with a 12MP camera on the rear.
The biggest aesthetic revamp is the 5-inch display. 4RMD calls it the Infinity-O display, though that's a name linked to Samsung Galaxy phones, but the South Korean company does make displays for Apple. If Samsung were to make the display of the iPhone SE 3, then we could be looking at an OLED panel such as the Super Retina XDR display used in the iPhone 12.
What's neat about this display is it stretches edge-to-edge and sports a barely-there bezel. Given how small the handset is, that's exactly the kind of upgrade we want to see in the real thing; fitting in a decent-sized screen into a compact handset is a winning move in our books.
Given there's no home button or Face ID sensor array on this concept design, it would appear that 4RMD envisions some form of Touch ID sensor either under the display, which is another feature rumored for the iPhone 13, or integrated into the power button as seen on the iPad Air.
In a world where mask-wearing is commonplace, Touch ID making a return on iPhones makes a lot of sense. What we'd not be so sure about is the return of the 3.5mm headphone jack, which this render puts on the bottom of the iPhone SE 3.
The iPhone SE doesn't have a headphone jack, and Apple is reportedly looking at going for a portless design with future iPhones. Add in the fact that Cupertino now offers a trio of wireless headphones, most recently the AirPods Max, and we suspect that it won't be making any concessions for wired headphones.
The design posits the iPhone SE 3 will be powered by Apple's A14 Bionic chip, a chipset found in the iPhone 12. Give the iPhone SE has the A13 Bionic found in the iPhone 11, the next-gen SE phone having the current-gen flagship iPhone silicon makes sense.
While the iPhone SE 3 concept is certainly eye-catching, we'd be rather skeptical that Apple would make such a phone exactly how 4RMD imagined it. But it gives us a taste of what the iPhone SE 3 could look like and the features it might have, based on the rumors so far and Apple's approach to design.
We'd love to see the iPhone SE 3 debut this spring, but industry analyst Ross Young suggests that we'll be waiting until 2022 for a follow-up. Meanwhile, reputed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says it'll launch later this year. Either way, if it looks anything like this, fans of affordable iPhone are sure to be happy.
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