iPhone SE 4 leak just revealed the biggest design changes

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

Call it a long overdue makeover, but the latest leak indicates that iPhone SE 4 is in store for big changes with its design. Leaked dummy units of the fourth generation iPhone SE from a Weibo user reveals that the cheapest phone in Apple's lineup could be adopting a more modern design that’s based on the iPhone 14.

It’s been more than two years since the iPhone SE (2022) was released, which gave Apple a more budget friendly option over pricier options like the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. But considering all the heated competition we’re seeing amongst the best cheap phones out there, it’s almost impossible for the two-year-old iPhone SE (2022) to remain a viable option over newer stuff like the Nothing Phone 2a, OnePlus 12R, and Samsung Galaxy A35.

The leaked dummy unit of the iPhone SE 4 injects much-needed interest for Apple, which comes after the purported renders we saw last month showing off a refresh design. Given how reports of the iPhone Flip indicate it’s being delayed much longer, having an iPhone SE 4 released first could give Apple more time to develop its foldable phone. Here’s what we can infer from this dummy unit.

Goodbye Touch ID, hello Face ID

iPhone Se 4 dummy unit showing front of phone.

(Image credit: Weibo)

The iPhone SE 4 dummy gives us a clearer indication that Apple will finally ditch Touch ID altogether with its iPhones because the images show off the clear cutouts of a notch at the top of the display. The notch contains cutouts for the IR illuminator and camera used to activate Face ID, which also means that the bezel along the bottom of the phone is going to be much skinnier. At the same time, this will force previous and current iPhone SE owners to adopt the newer gesture for accessing the Control Center.

This big design change could also pave the way for another new feature — the Dynamic Island. Even though previous rumors hint at the possibility, it’s tough to say for sure with this leaked dummy unit if it’ll actually come to fruition. Not only does the Dynamic Island deliver notifications in a more practical way, but it’s also helpful in the way it contains Live Activities.

Apple initially reserved the Dynamic Island for its more expensive models, the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, but then made it standard for all iPhone 15 models. It’s hard to say if Apple will bring it to the iPhone SE 4 because adding it could increase its price.

Yup, it's still a single rear camera

Single camera cutout on Apple iPhone SE 4 metal dummy leak.

(Image credit: Weibo)

We’re excited that Apple could be expanding Spatial Video recording by bringing it to more iPhone 16 models, but it doesn’t look like the iPhone SE 4 will be included on that list. That’s because the dummy unit still shows a single cutout on the back reserved for a single camera and LED flash. (Spatial video requires both a main lens and an ultrawide camera to capture video at the same time.)

This omission's tough because other budget phones have adopted dual camera setups and it’s becoming more common, but the iPhone SE 4 is allegedly getting a larger 48MP camera that could effectively give it a telephoto capability. We’ve seen it already in the iPhone 15’s main camera by leveraging pixel binning to deliver optical quality at 2x zoom — so Apple could be doing the same for the iPhone SE 4.

Mute switch is still intact

Mute switch and volume controls of Apple iPhone SE 4 metal dummy unit.

(Image credit: Weibo)

And finally, the dummy unit also gives us a look at the left edge of the phone that contains its volume controls and a cutout for what’s presumably the mute switch. Apple effectively removed it from the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, replaced by the Action button, but it’s unlikely for Apple to bring this new button to the iPhone SE 4.

At the same time, it doesn’t look like the iPhone SE 4 will get a Capture button either. So far, the rumors claim that feature will be available on all iPhone 16 models. It’s actually positioned on the same side as the power button, potentially acting as a launcher for the camera and on-screen shutter for capturing photos and video. The dummy unit doesn’t appear to have a cutout for that.

While we’ve already eclipsed the two year anniversary of the iPhone SE (2022), Apple still has time to announce and release its cheapest iPhone. WWDC 2024 would be a prime opportunity to officially announce the phone since it’s happening June 10 through June 14, giving ample time for a quick release before we get the iPhone 16 later in the fall.

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.