The iPhone SE Plus could be the budget big-screen phone you've been waiting for. But will it be more than just a jumbo sized iPhone SE 2020? And how long might you have to wait? From what we're hearing, an iPhone SE Plus could be on the way but it's not on the immediate horizon.
According to one reputable analyst, Apple will release an iPhone SE Plus during the second half of 2021 — so well after the iPhone 12's launch. Here's what we've heard so far about the iPhone SE Plus and what we'd like to see.
iPhone SE Plus release date
A Barclays analyst note says that Apple does not have plans to refresh the iPhone SE in the foreseeable future. And while they have heard about a larger screen iPhone SE Plus (with a 5.5 or 6.1-inch display), the device has not come up in Apple supplier discussions.
As reported by 9to5Mac, the iPhone SE Plus may not launch until the second half of 2021. This is according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with TF International Securities. Previously Kuo predicted that the iPhone SE Plus would have a release date in the first half of 2021, but it's reportedly been postponed.
Why the delay? It could be because of the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, Apple has four iPhone 12 phones launching, so it's doubtful that it would want to rush out a lower-price new iPhone that could canniablize the sales of multiple flagships.
Interestingly, a report in Nikkei Asian Review says that Apple currently does not have plans to introduce a new version of the iPhone SE in the spring of 2021. However, that leaves the door open for a different model.
Display analyst Ross Young says that an iPhone SE 3 is indeed launching in the spring of 2020, but at this stage it would be too early to say if that's an official name.
iPhone SE Plus price
There's not firm info on a possible iPhone SE Plus price yet, but according to leaker Apple RUMORs (LEAKs) on Twitter, Apple is working on three iPhone SE models for 2021 that will be priced under $500.
The iPhone SE 2021 phones would come in three sizes, including 5.5 inches, 6.1 inches and another 6.1-inch model with Touch ID integrated into the display. But we would take these rumors with a big grain of salt.
We would expect Apple to charge about a $100 premium over the iPhone SE. So the iPhone SE Plus may have a price of $499 for 64GB of storage. Jumping up to 128GB would could likely cost $50 more.
Also complicating matters is a rumor that Apple may lower the price of the regular iPhone 11 to $549 after the iPhone 12's launch. That doesn't leave much room between a $349 iPhone SE and a possible iPhone SE Plus.
iPhone SE Plus size and design
Here's where it gets tricky. While some reports point to the iPhone SE Plus having a screen size of 5.5 inches, others say it could have a 6.1-inch panel. A lot of this depends on whether Apple decides to recycle the iPhone 8 Plus' design or go in a new direction.
Analyst Ross Young of DisplaySearch believes that Apple will opt for a 6.1-inch LCD screen on what he's calling the iPhone SE 3.
According to MacRumors, the iPhone SE Plus won't have Face ID but will instead feature a Touch ID sensor that's integrated into the power button on the right side of the phone. That would make a 6.1-inch iPhone SE Plus a lot more likely and closer to a full-screen design.
Another plus: If Apple decided to forgo both the Touch ID home button underneath the screen as well as Face ID, the iPhone SE Plus would likely have a smaller notch up top for the front camera.
As for the screen itself, we expect an LCD panel as opposed to an OLED one, which would allow Apple to keep the price down. All four iPhone 12 models are reportedly getting OLED screens, so an LCD iPhone SE Plus would make sense.
The most interesting rumor is that the iPhone SE Plus could have no ports at all. Apple is said to be working on a an iPhone that is portless, and Front Page Tech's Jon Prosser says that it many not be a flagship device. That leaves the door open for the iPhone SE Plus. However, we also hear that the iPhone 13 could be a portless phone, or at least one model of it.
A portless iPhone would allow Apple to ditch the Lightning port and experiment with new features, such as a dock connector — without taking too big a risk with something like the iPhone 13. But for now it's hard to say whether Apple would make this bold of a move with the iPhone SE Plus.
iPhone SE Plus specs
Apple may very well decide to stick with its current A13 Bionic processor that's inside the iPhone SE for the larger iPhone SE Plus. But if the company is truly holding off until the second half of 2021, it's more likely that the iPhone SE Plus will get the same A14 Bionic chip that's expected to power the iPhone 12.
This would follow the same pattern that Apple established with the iPhone SE. Apple would likely include the same storage options, at 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities.
iPhone SE Plus cameras
The iPhone SE makes due with a single rear 12MP camera and a 7MP selfie camera up front, but it leverages the computational photography features of the A13 Bionic chip so well that it's one of the best camera phones for the money. You get Portrait Mode, Smart HDR and extended dynamic range in 4K video.
The iPhone SE Plus could be even more versatile. The iPhone 8 Plus included both a standard lens and a telephoto lens for optical zoom. And Apple may follow a similar path for an iPhone SE Plus.
However, Apple went in a different direction with the iPhone 11, giving the phone two lenses but using an ultrawide camera instead of a telephoto. And it's safe to assume Apple will stay the course for the iPhone 12. So an iPhone SE Plus will probably have two rear cameras, though it remains to be seen whether Apple will go the telephoto or ultrawide route.
What I would expect from an iPhone SE Plus is Night Mode. It's one of the biggest missing features from the regular iPhone SE, and there's nothing that leads me to believe that Apple couldn't add it to its existing budget phone, never mind its larger cousin. Night Mode has more to do with computational photography and machine learning than hardware.
iPhone SE Plus battery life and charging
The iPhone SE's battery life did not impress in our testing, as its small 1,821 mAh battery lasted only 9 hours and 18 minutes on our web surfing test. This is well behind the 11-hour mark, which is what you need to make our best phone battery life list.
The iPhone 8 Plus packed a 2,675 mAh battery, which lasted 11 hours and 16 minutes on a charge. So the iPhone SE Plus could easily be one of the longest lasting phones around, especially for the money. Plus, Apple may give the phone a slightly bigger battery, and presumably a 5-nanometer A14 Bionic processor would be even more efficient than today's 7nm A13 chip.
As for charging, I'm really hoping Apple ditches Lightning for USB-C by the time the iPhone SE Plus rolls around — but I wouldn't bet on it. You may get the same slow 5-watt charging out of the box, which is a bummer but not too bad of a trade-off for a midrange phone. Fast charging in this scenario would cost extra with a 18-watt USB-C charger and USB-C to Lightning cable.
Like the iPhone SE, the iPhone SE Plus would presumably support Qi wireless charging — so it should work with any of the best wireless chargers out there.
iPhone SE Plus outlook
With questionable demand for premium flagship phones due to economic uncertainty, an iPhone SE Plus would give shoppers a viable big-screen phone with all the features they need at a reasonable price. As good as the regular iPhone SE is, there are some users who simply don't want to deal with a small 4.7-inch display. If Apple is indeed developing an iPhone SE Plus, it could be a killer value, but we may have to patient before it materializes.