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iPhone SE 3 renders tease familiar design but hide a big upgrade

A concept render of the iPhone SE 3, showing a zoomed-in shot of the bottom portion of the phone, including the home button
A concept render of the iPhone SE 3, showing a zoomed-in shot of the bottom portion of the phone, including the home button (Image credit: Concept Creator/LetsGoDigital)

Apple's iPhone SE 3 isn't quite a certainty yet, but the rumors are confident about the phone's design, and we can now get a good idea of what it could look like thanks to some new renders.

The latest rumors around the long-awaited phone have been brought to life in unofficial renders from Jermaine "Concept Creator (opens in new tab)" Smit and published by LetsGoDigital (opens in new tab). Just bear in mind that the rumors say not much is going to change — so these renders may look a little familiar.

A concept render of the iPhone SE 3, showing the front of the phone and the back of the phone in black

A concept render of the iPhone SE 3, showing the front of the phone and the back of the phone in black. (Image credit: Concept Creator/LetsGoDigital)

As with the iPhone SE (2020), the design teased in these renders is essentially the same as that of the iPhone 8. That includes single cameras front and back, large bezels with a Touch ID home button, curved sides and a 4.7-inch LCD display. The color options mooted here are the same, too, with white, black and Product Red models appearing in the images.

What you can't see in the renders, of course, is that there will almost certainly be some big changes beneath the surface. For a start, we expect Apple to once again use its latest chipset in the iPhone SE, which this time will be the iPhone 13 series' A15 Bionic. 

As well as offering a surprising amount of power for a mid-range phone, this chip is also 5G compatible. Adding this to the new SE would be a particularly important upgrade given that almost every rival Android phone offers 5G already, and that 5G networks are continuing to roll out in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere.

A concept render of the iPhone SE 3, showing the back of the phone in white

A concept render of the iPhone SE 3, showing the back of the phone in white. (Image credit: Concept Creator/LetsGoDigital)

Hopefully a new chipset will also mean more memory. We've heard a rumor of the iPhone SE 3 using 4GB RAM, more than the current iPhone SE, but iPhones don't rely on RAM as heavily as Android phones anyway. 

Storage capacity is more important, and here there's plenty of room for upgrades. The current iPhone SE starts at a measly 64GB, which is half of the 128GB standard we see on most phones today. An increase to 128GB would be very welcome, and would mean the SE matches the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini for performance and storage specs.

If these changes aren't enough for you, then the rumors are also claiming there will be another iPhone SE in 2023, possibly called the iPhone SE Plus. This is supposedly when Apple will update the SE to be more in line with its premium Face ID models, giving it a 6.1-inch body based on the iPhone XR.

In terms of pricing, we're expecting Apple might increase the cost a little. The current SE starts at $400, but with the new 5G chip, that could increase to $450. We'll find out for sure when Apple announces it, which is currently expected to be in March or April during the Apple Spring Event, its first major product launch of the year.

Launching then will in theory give Apple a head start of a month or two over the rumored Google Pixel 6a, likely another big contender for the best cheap phones crown.

Richard Priday
Staff Writer

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.