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iPhone 9 (iPhone SE 2020): Price, release date, specs and leaks

iPhone 9
(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 9 (new iPhone SE) may make its long-awaited debut this month, and it looks like it has the potential to be the cheap iPhone everyone has been waiting for.

Also known as the iPhone SE, the iPhone 9 is said to combine iPhone 8-like looks with iPhone 11 power. Apple stopped selling the original iPhone SE back in 2018, but the iPhone 9 should give fans of smaller phones something to get excited about.

If the leaks prove true, the new iPhone 9/iPhone SE could make our list of the best phones. Here's what we know so far about the this new iPhone, including the possible release date and price, as well as the features to expect.

iPhone 9/iPhone SE latest news (updated April 6)

iPhone 9 release date

We now have a tentative date for the iPhone 9 launch — April 15. That comes from tech analyst Jon Prosser who tweeted that Apple has set a tentative date of April 15 to announce the phone, with the iPhone 9 shipping on April 22. 

Prosser says those dates are based on an internal meeting at Apple, and that the dates could shift, as Apple deals with the coronavirus pandemic, which has already affected iPhone 9 production.

Prosser's tweet comes as cases for a 4.7-inch iPhone 2020 arrived at Best Buy, fueling speculation of an April release for a new phone. And soon after that, Verizon posted some fine print on its website — again spotted by Prosser — that mentioned the iPhone 9 by name.

We've been hearing about an iPhone SE replacement for years, even before iPhone 9 talk picked up. But rumors about this specific phone can be traced back to last year, when investor notes from TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecast a new compact iPhone coming out in the first half of 2020. It looks like that's finally going to happen, at least if the new rumors are accurate.

iPhone 9 name

Originally, rumors of an iPhone SE successor surfaced with the phone being called the iPhone SE 2. But Apple might have a different name in mind.

Newer rumors point to Apple settling on the iPhone 9 as the name for its new compact phone, in large part because the upcoming handset reportedly adopts the shape and design of the iPhone 8. Then again, a few case makers like Totallee have started taken pre-orders on accessories for the new phone using the iPhone SE 2 name — so who knows?

iphone 9 render

An iPhone 9/iPhone SE 2 render (Image credit: @OnLeaks/iGeeksBlog)

Just to add to the confusion, there's another possible name, and it comes from Front Page Tech, which reports that a source claims the new phone would just be called the iPhone. No numbers, no letters — just iPhone. We think that's highly unlikely at this point.

iPhone 9 price

Trying to determine a price for Apple’s upcoming iPhone 9 could be difficult, but all signs so far are pointing to the fact that it’ll be the cheapest model on store shelves.

Apple’s current cheapest iPhone, the iPhone 8 first released in 2017, costs $449 after a series of price cuts. The iPhone SE had a starting price of $399 and dropped to $349 over time..

Another note from Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo puts the price of the iPhone 9 at $399, the same as the launch price for the original iPhone SE. That’s $300 cheaper than the basic iPhone 11, and would be a $50 discount on the iPhone 8, the phone that the iPhone 9 is allegedly based on.

$399 also happens to be the same price as the Google Pixel 3a, another cut-down version of a premium phone, and likely the device Apple is trying to target, although Google is at work on a new Pixel 4a expected for later this spring.

iPhone 9 design and display

Ming-Chi Kuo's October analyst note claimed that Apple's iPhone 9 will look nearly identical to the iPhone 8. Kuo also said that Apple will maintain a 4.7-inch display in the iPhone SE successor, with a 5.5- or 6.1-inch model potentially coming later in the year. In fact, newly discovered code in iOS 14 by 9to5Mac points to the existence of an iPhone 9 Plus, so we'd expect a second iPhone SE successor, likely with the iPhone 8 Plus' 5.5-inch display.

It's expected that Apple is going to keep the hefty bezels around the iPhone 9 screen, as well as the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the front. However, another prediction from Kuo says that the larger iPhone 9 Plus/iPhone SE 2 Plus will use a power button-mounted fingerprint scanner, meaning that the home button won't be needed.

What might that look like? Some iPhone 9 renders posted by leaker @OnLeaks on iGeeksBlog suggest a phone that looks pretty much like the iPhone 8, only with some minor design tweaks to distinguish the two models. 

However, other reports suggest a different look, like this video from Weibo that suggests the iPhone 9 will look more like the iPhone X, complete with a notch. BGR also obtained images of what the site said could be the iPhone 9’s design, which points to a device nearly identical to the iPhone X, but with squared-off metal rails like the iPhone 4/original iPhone SE. 

It's this design that the attractive unofficial render of the iPhone 9 below looks to be based on, which looks awesome but doesn't fit with the story told by the other leaks. This could also be the larger phone that Kuo claims is coming later in the year alongside Apple's other iPhone 12 releases.

iphone 9 render

A different take on the iPhone 9 (Image credit: Hubert Jarechowicz/ConceptsiPhone)

According to another report from The Elec, LG Display will be the likely supplier for the iPhone 9's screen. The report said that the panel was undergoing last-minute quality checks ahead of production.

More recently, a video has surfaced claiming to show the iPhone 9 in action. It's not entirely in line with rumors we've been hearing about the phone, so there's good reason to doubt whether the phone in this video is the real deal.

iPhone 9 specs

In a potentially interesting move, Apple may not want to cut the power in its iPhone 9. According to Kuo, the company will bring the same A13 processor that powers its iPhone 11 lineup to the iPhone 9. Add that to 3GB of RAM, and it might have solid performance.

Aside from that, Kuo didn’t have much to say about Apple’s spec plans for the iPhone 9. According to a rumor from Mac Otakara, there’s a possibility of Face ID making its way to the handset, but aside from that, the rumors are so far scant on Apple’s specs plan.

Unlike the iPhone 12 models expected to launch in fall of 2020, the iPhone 9 won't have 5G connectivity, Kuo says. That would allow Apple to offer the new phone for much less than this fall's iPhone releases.

iPhone 9 wishlist: What we want

An iPhone SE successor is certainly long overdue, even after the current coronavirus crisis has pushed the phone's rumored launch into April. Although Kuo has given us a good sense of what we can — and cannot — expect from an iPhone SE sequel, there are still some things we’d want to see.

Even with rumors pointing to Apple using an iPhone 8 design, it would make sense for Apple to bring Face ID to the iPhone 9. The company has been offering this feature for years, and it’s proven to be easy to use. Offering it in the iPhone 9 could boost the device’s appeal.

Apple should also be careful not to skimp on the iPhone 9’s camera. Sure, it won’t have the same sensors as the iPhone 11 Pro, but it should at least offer a good-enough experience that the pictures won’t look out of place against other iPhones. Perhaps it'll give the Pixel 3a and upcoming Pixel 4a a run for their money as the best camera phone under $400.

Ultimately, the iPhone 9 needs to take as many cues as reasonably possible from the higher-end iPhone 11 lineup and offer plenty of colors for those who care about style. And when it’s all said and done, it should be a device that can last and perform well for at least a few years without becoming obsolete.

Hopefully, that’s not a tall order.