Should a new version of the iPhone SE arrive in May as rumors suggest, it may be without a popular hardware feature for smartphones.
The rumored iPhone SE 2 could follow the lead of recent iPhone releases and drop the 3.5mm headphone jack. That's according to Japanese blog Macotakara, citing case makers at a mobile industry trade show. The case makers claim to have seen the phone, which will be the same size as the original iPhone SE, and it's without a headphone jack.
If that's true, it wouldn't necessarily be a surprise. The original iPhone SE, which debuted in 2016, was the last phone Apple designed with a headphone jack. In September of that year, Apple unveiled the headphone jack-free iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, lauding itself for its "courage" at removing the port. Every iPhone since then has shipped without a headphone jack, with several major Android devices following suit.
The lack of a headphone jack on recent iPhones has caused some grumbling, but you'd be hard-pressed to prove it's had much of an impact on iPhone sales. With no 3.5mm headphone jack, you either need to use a dongle to connect your existing headphones to the iPhone's Lightning port or use the included headphones that plug into that port but prevent you from charging your phone at the same time. You can also opt for wireless headphones, such as Apple's own AirPods.
You might hope that the lack of a headphone jack means the iPhone SE could support wireless charging, though that would likely require new materials, such as a glass back. The case makers Macotakara spoke to don't think that's happening. They do, however, think the new phone will feature an A10 Fusion processor like the one that powers the iPhone 7.
The iPhone SE has gone more than two years without a significant update. Apple watchers had originally assumed that the company would continue to overlook its 4-inch phone, with rumors suggesting all development efforts were going toward a trio of new iPhones set to debut later this fall. However, last week, a Eurasian Economic Commission regulatory filing suggested new iPhones could debut as soon as next month, reviving hopes of an iPhone SE 2 update.
The case makers in the Macotakara report agree with that time frame, predicting a May release.
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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.