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iPhone SE 2 set for March release date

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In yet another sign that the iPhone SE is about to make a comeback, Apple's production chain will reportedly swing into action next month to begin assembly on the iPhone SE 2.

That's the word from Bloomberg, which posted a report that assembly of the new iPhone SE will begin in February according to "people familiar with the matter." Bloomberg's Apple reporting is very well-sourced, so this is as good as a confirmation that the iPhone SE 2 is a go.

Rumors of an iPhone SE 2 have swirled for years now, but they really picked up steam late last year, as analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecast a new low-cost phone for Apple that would arrive sometime in early 2020.

This new Bloomberg report places the iPhone SE 2's launch well within that time frame. With assembly starting in February, a new phone could be ready for its debut as soon as March, the report claims. The original iPhone SE was unveiled in March 2016, not that Apple takes its cues from four-year-old product rollouts.

The report on iPhone SE 2 assembly work confirms a lot of the most popular rumors about this upcoming phone, namely that it will appropriate the design of the iPhone 8 and its 4.7-inch screen with Touch ID. Some rumors had suggested a 5.5-inch version of the SE, muddying the rumor mill waters, but that model — if it exists — will be part of Apple's fall iPhone 12 launch when the company could unveil as many as four new iPhones.

The original iPhone SE featured a 4-inch screen that mirrored the iPhone 5s's look. So fans of truly compact phones may be a little disappointed that the rumored SE 2 will be a little bit larger. Still, that's more compact than the 6.1- and 6.5-inch sizes featured on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max, respectively. (The iPhone 11 Pro has a 5.8-inch display, but its notched screen makes it only factionally taller and wider than the iPhone 8.)

With the screen size inching upward on the new iPhone SE, it sounds like the focus on this version of the phone could be more on its price. Slowing iPhone sales growth last year has spurred Apple to find ways to lower the price on some models — the iPhone 11 debuted for $50 less than the $749 iPhone XR that preceded it, and Apple said during its October earnings call that the iPhone 11 had quickly become the most popular model. (We'll find out how popular during the holiday shopping season when Apple announces earnings a week from now on Jan. 28.)

At $449, the iPhone 8 is currently the cheapest iPhone you can buy. There's no definitive rumor on how much an iPhone SE 2 would cost, with some reports suggesting it could replace the iPhone 8 at that same $449 price or that it could recreate the original SE's $399 debut cost.