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iPhone SE 3 leak just revealed release date — and it's bad news

iPhone SE 3 release date
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone SE is, by all accounts, a fabulous phone. Not only is it powerful and compact, it costs just $399, which is a steal compared to the $799 iPhone 12.

It’s safe to say that after seeing what’s inside the iPhone 12, some people might be getting excited about the prospect of an upgraded iPhone SE coming next year, or perhaps a bigger screen iPhone SE Plus. But you shouldn’t get your hopes up for an early 2021 launch.

The second generation iPhone SE launched at the end of April 2020, but according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac) we won’t be seeing a new version coming so soon. According to Kuo, the fact that the iPhone SE is selling well, and Apple’s focus on the iPhone 12 range, means we won’t be seeing an iPhone SE 3 until at least the second half of 2021.

It’s not a huge surprise that the iPhone SE has been selling so well. Aside from the low price tag, and the fact it’s small size appeals to people who dislike the current trend of large phones, it’s also a very capable device. It has the same A13 bionic chip and neural engine chip as the iPhone 11, it’s water resistant, offers TouchID, great camera performance, and comes in a premium-feeling glass and aluminum design.

Kuo’s prediction comes in an investor note about the prospects of Apple supplier Genius Electronic Optical -- a company that is hoping to boost its prospects with an early 2021 launch of a new iPhone SE. But it doesn’t look like this will be happening, because Kuo isn’t often wrong.

If the iPhone SE is selling well then a new iteration will be coming eventually; the only question is when. The first generation iPhone SE launched back in March 2016, but Apple didn’t release a second one until April 2020 -- over four years later. So there’s certainly no precedent for a 1-year release cycle.

Hopefully, Apple isn’t going to make people wait until 2024 for the iPhone SE 3, but the point is that there’s no telling when the company might decide to launch a new one. It could be in a year’s time alongside the iPhone 13, or it could be a few years down the line when current SE owners are getting really desperate for something new.

Whatever happens, it seems like there’s going to be at least a year’s gap between the SE and whatever successor Apple comes up with.

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.