Right now is the worst time to buy the iPhone SE 2020 [Update]

Best camera phone: iPhone SE 2020
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Update: The new iPhone SE has been announced, which offers an A15 Bionic chip, 5G and more durable design along with other upgrades. Here's the scoop on the iPhone SE 2022.  

The iPhone SE is one of the best cheap phones around, but right now is the worst time to buy one. And that's for three reasons.

First, the iPhone SE 3 is tipped to launch at the Apple event March 8, which has been dubbed Peek Performance by the company. In fact, just today we saw that one carrier had listed a placeholder page for the iPhone SE 3 and iPad Air 5, which are both expected to debut at the Apple event. 

In addition, a separate Belkin leak for a new iPhone SE screen protector listed a release date of March 10. So it would seem that a new iPhone SE launch is imminent.

Based on the rumors and leaks up until now, it doesn't sound like the iPhone SE 3 will be all that different on the outside. It could share the same design as the current model, which means a 4.7-inch display, Touch ID button and fairly chunky bezels and long with a single rear camera.

However, the iPhone SE 3 should offer robust upgrades on the inside. This reportedly includes the same powerful A15 Bionic chip in the iPhone 13, which would make the new iPhone SE more powerful than any Android phone in its price range. And the A15 chip isn't just about performance; it should enable significantly better image quality via computational photography.

Plus, because the A15 chip is more efficient than than the A13 Bionic in the current iPhone SE, the new iPhone SE 3 should last longer on a charger even if Apple isn't able to squeeze in a new battery. And the iPhone SE 2020 battery life was not great, so any improvement would be welcome. 

And don't forget that the iPhone SE 3 is pretty much a lock to add 5G connectivity, so you should be able to enjoy faster uploads and downloads on all the major wireless networks. And 5G also enables smoother streaming and less latency when playing online games. 

Another reason to hold off on buying the current iPhone SE is that there's a chance that the iPhone SE 3 will be even cheaper. One analyst has predicted that the iPhone SE 3 could cost as low as $299, which would be $100 less than iPhone SE 2020. We don't believe this rumor, but it won't take that long to find out.

Lastly, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has suggested that Apple could lower the price of the current iPhone SE to as low as $199, so both the iPhone SE 3 and iPhone SE 2020 would stick around in Apple's lineup. That would be a game changer for those on a budget, but again this is just speculation. 

With only a few days to go until Apple's March 8 event, there is absolutely no reason to buy an iPhone SE right now. We would absolutely wait to see the specs of the new iPhone SE and price, as well as wait for whether Apple discounts the current model. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.