iPhone SE 4 — all the rumors and what we want to see

Unofficial renders of the iPhone SE 4
(Image credit: Jon Prosser/Ian Zelbo)

An iPhone SE 4 could be in the works, if rumors about Apple's phone plans are to be believed. So what can we expect from this updated iPhone? And when might it appear?

The iPhone SE 2022 that Apple released in March 2022 added 5G compatibility to the company's cheapest phone but retained the aging design of the iPhone SE 2020. That's expected to change with the new model — though rumors claim Apple will turn to the look of a newer "old" iPhone for its next SE model.

Here's what we know so far about the iPhone SE 4, and what we're hoping to see once the phone arrives and tries to join the ranks of the best iPhones.

iPhone SE 4 latest rumors: Updated March 4

iPhone SE 4: Rumored release date

It now appears that the iPhone SE 4 will get a 2025 launch date.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple “restarted the iPhone SE 4” after the analyst had claimed work on that phone was put on pause at the end of 2022, with Kuo more recently claiming we'll see this phone arrive in 2025 or later. This reset could bring an iPhone SE 4 with an OLED display and in-house 5G modem chip though, so a longer wait could be offset with more meaningful upgrades.

iPhone SE 4: Rumored price

So far, there's been no word on iPhone SE 4 pricing, and we wouldn't expect those rumors to start surfacing until we get closer to the rumored 2024 launch. At $429, the current iPhone SE is one of the best cheap phones available, and we wouldn't expect Apple to give up its pricing advantage so easily, when rival phones like the Google Pixel 6a and Galaxy A53 cost $449.

With that in mind, you don't need us to tell you that prices are rising all around us, and that goes for the cost of components used to make phones as well. External pressures may force Apple to adjust the cost of the iPhone SE 4 from the iPhone SE 2022's price tag. And a larger 6.1-inch display would possibly justify a price hike. 

iPhone SE 4: Possible name

We're calling this rumored model the iPhone SE 4, as that's the name being bandied about on the rumor mill. And since this would be the fourth iteration of Apple's low-cost smartphone, it's no mystery why people have settled on that particular moniker.

But Apple typically doesn't name its cheap phones that way. While flagship phones have sported a number in recent years — iPhone 12, iPhone 13 and so on — the iPhone SE has featured just that name and the year in which new model comes out. Therefore, it's entirely possible that a phone released next year would be called the iPhone SE 2024.

A third possibility would be using the iPhone SE Plus name floated by some analysts, especially if Apple ends up giving this version a larger screen, as is expected. But given the apparent lack of enthusiasm for the released iPhone 14 Plus, we're not convinced Apple would go in this direction.

iPhone SE 4: Design and display

Unofficial renders of the iPhone SE 4

iPhone SE 4 renders (Image credit: Jon Prosser/Ian Zelbo)

Here's where we're on the most solid ground in terms of iPhone SE 4 rumors. A report from The Elec says that the iPhone SE will feature a 6.1-inch OLED display, although as of February 2024, Apple's yet to pick a supplier. Samsung Securities seconds this size and tech upgrade too

Whoever ends up providing it, this display would be a welcome upgrade from the current 4.7-inch panel. Ross Young has tweeted about the likelihood of the device swapping out its current 4.7-inch screen for either a 5.7- or 6.1-inch panel, and possibly a move from LCD to the superior OLED. That would likely necessitate a change from the current iPhone SE's design, which adopts the look of 2017's iPhone 8, right down to the chunky bezels and Touch ID button.

Leaker Jon Prosser believes Apple will turn to a more recent — though still older — iPhone for design inspiration. He's tipped the iPhone SE 4 to adapt the look of 2018's iPhone XR, including that phone's 6.1-inch display. With a notch in the display — there's no word on whether it would be iPhone XR-sized or incorporate the smaller notch Apple introduced with the iPhone SE — the iPhone SE 4 would also add Face ID support, while shedding Touch ID.

You don't have to imagine what such a phone would look like. Artist Ian Zelbo has created iPhone SE 4 renders based on the design rumors Prosser has put forth so far. Looking at the device, you'll see a lot of similarities with the iPhone XR.

More recently, MacRumors tipped that the iPhone SE 4 would be based on the iPhone 14, a far more recent phone than expected. The basic iPhone 14 chassis would be further upgraded though, with a USB-C port and Action button, which would mean the SE would beat the current iPhone 15 in some aspects.

You can see how that might look in alleged CAD renders of the phone here.

Leaked images purportedly of the iPhone SE 4 from a Weibo user also shows dummy unit with what appears to be a notch that would contain the components for Face ID, which means that Touch ID will be dropped.

An alleged render of the iPhone SE 4's back

(Image credit: 91mobiles)

iPhone SE 4: Specs and features

Unofficial renders of the iPhone SE 4

(Image credit: Jon Prosser/Ian Zelbo)

Very few rumors about iPhone SE specs have emerged, though Apple has a pretty clear track record of what it does and doesn't include on this particular model. For instance, the phone generally uses the same processor as the flagships released the previous fall.

Assuming a spring 2024 launch for the iPhone SE 4, we could see Apple use the A16 Bionic chip from the iPhone 14 Pro models, which also powers the newer Phone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus

Apple's long-rumored in-house 5G chip may also finally make an appearance in the next iPhone SE. It may only offer sub6GHz 5G like the current model, but it could offer other benefits since Apple will have designed it specifically for its phones, rather than using an off-the-shelf model.

All iPhone SE models have featured a single rear camera, and we don't anticipate that changing with the iPhone SE 4. Apple has to find some way to distinguish its entry-level phone from the least expensive flagship iPhone and keeping an ultrawide lens off the SE seems like one way to do that.

We've heard that the alleged iPhone 14-based iPhone SE could use a single 48MP camera, a significant upgrade over the 12MP sensor used in the iPhone SE. Hopefully this means features like 24MP photos, Night Sight and 2x digital zoom will be on offer for the first time on an iPhone SE too.

A photo of showing the various angles of the iPhone XR.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has stuck with 64GB of storage for its iPhone SE and it could do the same for the iPhone SE 4, but we'd like to see an upgrade to 128GB. 

There's one other feature we wouldn't imagine Apple adding to the iPhone SE — wireless charging. Again, this seems to be how Apple is distinguishing its different phone models, while also keeping an eye how to keep iPhone SE costs down.

There are indications that the iPhone SE 4 will make use of the iPhone 14's battery. This addition would be a marked increase from the prior iPhone SE 3's battery but may mean a longer charge time to compensate for the greater capacity. 

iPhone SE 4: What we hope to see

Adopting a new design for the iPhone SE 4 would tackle one of our biggest complaints about the current model, and opting for a larger screen might expand the iPhone SE's appeal, as bigger phones have become more popular since the original iPhone SE's 2016 arrival. But there are some other changes Apple should make to any budget phone it has in the works for next year.

Night mode support: This one's a no-brainer and we're surprised we even to make it, but it's ridiculous that the current iPhone SE can't take a decent picture in the dark. Similarly priced phones offer this capability and plenty of phone makers — including Apple — have poured their efforts into improving low-light photography for mobile. The iPhone SE 4 needs to join the party or risk becoming totally irrelevant as a camera phone, no matter how good Apple's computational photography is.

More storage: We get that Apple wants a divide between its cheapest iPhone and its flagship models. But 64GB of storage is too little for a modern smartphone, especially one capable of running some of the elaborate apps that have hit Apple's App Store in recent years. Find other ways to keep costs low, but don't skimp on storage.

An iPhone 13 Pro Max with a home screen showing Spark, TickTick, Lastpass, Splitwise, Goodnotes 5 and Inoreader

iPhone 13's notch (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A smaller notch: Yes, Apple seems to be moving away from the notch if the iPhone 14 Pro design is anything to go by. But we'd still be happy to have an iPhone SE with a notch if it means shrinking the bezels on the top and bottom of the current phone's display. 

A fast refreshing display: We can say right now that this isn't going to happen, not when the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are stuck with 60Hz displays. But the fact of the matter is, plenty of phones in the iPhone SE's price range offer some sort of fast-refreshing screen, notably the Galaxy A53. By refusing to bring such a capability to its own phone, Apple is really short-changing its audience.

Better battery life: We should get longer battery life from the iPhone SE 4 if it features a larger display, as there will be more room for a bigger battery.  That, plus a more advanced chipset could help the iPhone SE 4 last longer on a charge — another move that will help it stand out from similarly priced phones.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

With contributions from
  • DrDweeb
    It is unclear to me why a reviewer would write

    "There's one other feature we wouldn't imagine Apple adding to the iPhone SE — wireless charging"

    when it appears quite clearly on https://support.apple.com/kb/SP867?locale=en_US that the SE3 specification includes;
    Wireless charging (works with Qi chargers12)I know "journalists" at tech sites write their reviews from spec sheets, in fact I think AI programs write them mostly, but this error is pretty basic
  • MistaRopa
    DrDweeb said:
    It is unclear to me why a reviewer would write

    "There's one other feature we wouldn't imagine Apple adding to the iPhone SE — wireless charging"

    when it appears quite clearly on https://support.apple.com/kb/SP867?locale=en_US that the SE3 specification includes;
    Wireless charging (works with Qi chargers12)I know "journalists" at tech sites write their reviews from spec sheets, in fact I think AI programs write them mostly, but this error is pretty basic
    Thank you for catching this. With the tone the author took regarding his blatantly wrong assumption you'd have thought the iphone SE 2022 was a bridge too far for actually using it to know it a little. Considering the iphone SE line has a small but loyal following maybe check the Carfax