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This iPhone SE design shows the future of compact Apple phones that we want

iPhone SE 3 concept
(Image credit: Apple Lab)

Looking at this iPhone SE 3 concept, I'd never have thought the cheaper iPhone could look as good as, or perhaps better, than Apple's flagship phones.

Designed by Apple Lab, these renders of a future iPhone SE not only look good but could be accurate to a future model. The design is based on a rumor from displays expert Ross Young of a redesign coming in 2023. That's a long wait to check how accurate Apple Lab's design is, but for now we can appreciate how this is a budget iPhone with the looks to fit in with its premium siblings.

Apple's current second-gen iPhone SE is based on the iPhone 8, the last flagship iPhone to use a Home button and Touch ID instead of a Face ID notch. This concept has neither however. 

What we see instead is a punch-hole selfie camera, like most current Android phones, and a flat-sided frame like the iPhone 12. These features are rumored coming to the iPhone 14 first in 2022, alongside other rumored upgrades like larger cameras and under-display Face ID, plus a 4nm chipset.

iPhone SE 3 concept

(Image credit: Apple Lab)

There's a single camera on the back of this SE concept, in a small oblong bump that also contains the flash. It sounds quite limited compared to the multiple cameras on rival phones, but it a single camera doesn't hold the current iPhone SE back from taking great images. 

iPhone SE 3 concept

(Image credit: Apple Lab)

Without a home button, you may be wondering how you would unlock this iPhone. Fortunately this is cleared up by a reply from Apple Lab to a commenter: he says security is handled by a Touch ID sensor in the power button, just like the iPad Air.

The renders prominently show the iPhone SE concept in a matte purple color, likely inspired by the recently launched purple iPhone 12. This version, the only one we see from the front, also has white bezels, reminiscent of the new iMac 2021. Apple has traditionally used black bezels for all its products, but perhaps the iMac is the start of a new trend.

iPhone SE 3 concept

(Image credit: Apple Lab)

Young's iPhone SE rumor also claims that before this big redesign, there will be a smaller upgrade to the existing iPhone SE that adds a new chip and 5G support in 2022. 

While the iPhone SE is still one of the best cheap phones around, this year it's got to go up against the much-rumored Google Pixel 5a and other newer Android phones that will push Apple's old-fashioned design to the limit. An interim upgrade like this could be just what it needs to keep competitive until the major redesign is finished.