Apple has for years been trying to attract budget-conscious shoppers to its iPhone lineup with a variety of devices. Most recently, the company introduced the iPhone 11 for $699, making it more affordable than the $749 iPhone XR the device replaced.
But according to recent rumors, Apple is now eyeing the possibility of bringing back the iPhone SE, a budget-friendly device Apple discontinued in September 2018.
The iPhone SE was a decidedly underpowered phone that came with a design reminiscent of old iPhone models. But what it lacked in design, it made up for in affordability, thanks to its $349 price tag. Apple ultimately discontinued the device to make room for higher-end options, but now there’s talk of an iPhone SE 2 making a comeback in early 2020.
As time has gone on, more and more rumors have surfaced about Apple's next smartphone. Here's everything we've heard so far about Apple’s budget-friendly iPhone SE 2.
iPhone SE 2 release date
Most of what we know about the iPhone SE 2 comes byway of a pair of recent investor notes from TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said that he anticipates Apple releasing the iPhone SE 2 in the first half of 2020.
Kuo didn’t provide any more insight into an exact date, but an early 2020 launch would give Apple enough time to sell its existing models before touting a new version. For what it's worth, MacRumors spied a report from a Barclays analyst based on interviews with companies in Apple's supply chain claims that the iPhone SE 2 will go into production in February, which would fit in with that first quarter release rumor.
Another report from Korean site The Elec says Apple's new budget phone will ship in early 2020, but it doesn't offer a more specific iPhone SE 2 release date.
iPhone SE 2 price
Trying to determine a price for Apple’s upcoming iPhone SE 2 could be difficult, but considering Apple has been using the SE branding to keep prices down, there’s a good chance it’ll be the cheapest model on store shelves.
Apple’s current cheapest model, the iPhone 8, costs $449. The iPhone SE had a starting price of $399 at launch, so it's possible Apple could keep the price at $349 or bridge the gap with a $399 price tag.
Another note from Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo puts the price of the iPhone SE 2 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 SE 2 is allegedly based on. It 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.
iPhone SE 2 design and display
Ming-Chi Kuo's October analyst note claimed that Apple's iPhone SE 2 will look nearly identical to the iPhone 8. Kuo also said that Apple will maintain a 4.7-inch display in the iPhone SE 2.
That would suggest that Apple is going to keep the hefty bezels around the screen, as well as the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the front.
According to Korean website The Elec, LG Display will be the likely supplier for the iPhone SE 2's screen. The report said that the panel was undergoing last-minute quality checks ahead of production.
However, there have been some other reports that have surfaced in recent months that call into question Apple’s design plans. Chief among them is this video from Weibo that suggests the iPhone SE 2 will look more like the iPhone X, complete with a notch.
BGR also recently obtained images of what the site said could be the iPhone SE 2’s design. It looks nearly identical to the iPhone X.
But alas, Apple hasn’t confirmed a design plan, so we don’t know which version is most likely to launch.
iPhone SE 2 specs
In a potentially interesting move, Apple may not want to cut the power in its iPhone SE 2. According to Kuo, the company will bring the same A13 processor that powers its iPhone 11 lineup to the iPhone SE 2. 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 SE 2. 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 four iPhone 12 models expected to launch in fall of 2020, the iPhone SE 2 won't have 5G connectivity, Kuo says.
iPhone SE 2 wishlist: What we want
Although Kuo has given us a good sense of what we can — and cannot — expect from the iPhone SE 2, Apple is apparently planning to launch next year, there are still some things we’d want to see.
Although rumors point to Apple using an iPhone 8 design, it would make sense for Apple to bring Face ID to the iPhone SE 2. The company has been offering this feature for years, and it’s proven to be easy to use. Offering it in the iPhone SE 2 could boost the device’s appeal.
Apple should also be careful not to skimp on the iPhone SE 2’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.
Ultimately, the iPhone SE 2 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.