Apple’s approach to the iPhone SE was not predictable. The original iPhone SE arrived back in March 2016, and apart from a sharp increase in storage in March 2017, it hasn’t been updated for four years. In fact, Apple actually ditched the iPhone SE in 2018, leading many to suspect that the cheaper iPhone has gone through.
But the arrival of the iPhone SE (2020) in April 2020 was a welcome addition to the range and signaled that perhaps Apple has realized the need for a more affordable option.
Some speculate that it will arrive in September 2021, when Apple should unveil iPhone 13 models, but following the previous model, there is no guarantee that this will happen, as all previous SE devices arrived in the spring.
Here’s when the previous iPhone SE models debuted:
- iPhone SE (16GB and 64GB versions): March 31, 2016
- iPhone SE (32GB and 64GB versions): March 24, 2017
- iPhone SE (2020): April 24, 2020
Industry experts have speculated there will be another iPhone SE, and the rather robust Ming-Chi Kuo is expected to ship in fall 2021.
However, JP Morgan supply chain analyst William Young suggests that we shouldn’t expect the new iPhone SE to arrive in 2021 at all, instead predicting its release in the first half of 2022.
This is corroborated by a July 2021 DigiTimes report, which also states that Apple is gearing up to launch the next generation iPhone SE in the first half of 2022, which suggests we can wait a bit for the next budget iPhone.
How much will the iPhone SE (2021) cost?
We don’t think Apple will stray too far from current prices as the iPhone lineup is now well structured to keep different models available in their own layers without destroying those around them.
Here’s how they stack up:
- iPhone SE – £ 399 / $ 399
- iPhone XR – £ 499 / $ 499
- iPhone 11 – £ 599 / $ 599
- iPhone 12 mini – £ 699 / $ 699
- iPhone 12 – £ 799 / $ 799
- iPhone 12 Pro – £ 999 / $ 999
- iPhone 12 Pro Max – £ 1099 / $ 1099
The current iPhone SE (2020) starts at £ 399 / $ 399 and we fully expect any updated version to do the same.
What new features will we see in the iPhone SE (2021)?
Since Apple hasn’t even confirmed the existence of the new iPhone SE yet, there are currently no official details on what it might contain. Of course, that hasn’t stopped a lot of rumors in the tech world, so here’s what we think you can see in the new iPhone SE.
The most obvious addition to the new model will be 5G connectivity. All iPhone 12 models arriving in 2020 had this feature, and we’ve also seen it on a number of Android phones, including in the same price points as the iPhone SE (2020). Models like the OnePlus Nord, Motorola Edge, and Realme 7 5G all boast this feature, which you’ll find in our roundup of the best cheap 5G phones.
However, 5G is uncertain as the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 remain in the current catalog, both above the iPhone SE, and neither had 5G connectivity.
A14 Bionic processor
One of the most surprising things about the iPhone SE (2020) is that it received the same A13 Bionic processor as the iPhone 11 lineup, which were flagships at the time. If Apple follows suit and releases the iPhone SE update in 2021, we think this update could also include the A14 Bionic, which is part of the iPhone 13 lineup.
If it doesn’t, it won’t be a disaster as the A13 is a very fast processor, but Apple hasn’t skimped on the iPhone SE (2020), so there are indications that the same could happen with the 2021 version. JP Morgan analyst William Young believes this is the case, suggesting in a recent note to investors that the next-gen iPhone SE will feature an updated chipset, likely in the form of the A14 Bionic.
While the iPhone SE (2020) may have only been updated last year, taking the body of the iPhone 8 and its predecessors, there are rumors that Apple may continue this practice with a new model. Moving to the more spacious iPhone XR or iPhone 11 chassis would mean Apple could ditch Touch ID and offer a full-screen iPhone to those who previously dropped the starting price.
Face ID is now well established, and so the price of construction and parts had to drop enough for it to be viable on a cheaper device. There’s also the advantage that going to the iPhone XR or 11 frames would only require an update to the internals of those models, while providing a true update to the SE badge.
With so many competing cameras now having some sort of night mode, it would only make sense that this low-light photography feature would appear on the iPhone SE (2021). The fact is that in the current SE it is not.
As you can see, there is still a lot to be said about the new iPhone SE. We will update this article as more news becomes available, so be sure to check it out. Until then, check out our guide to the best iPhones and the best iPhone 12 deals to see which one suits your needs.