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Apple’s wallet-friendly iPhone SE lineup remains a bit of an enigma since the company has only ever released two iPhones with that particular designation. However, despite four years between the first- and second-generation iPhone SE, it looks like we’re on track to see a new one arrive next spring.
Rumours of what form the next-generation iPhone SE will take have been all over the place in recent years, ranging from reports of a notchless full-screen design with Touch ID power button, similar to the newest iPad Air and iPad mini models, to something that will look very similar to the 2020 iPhone SE.
It’s hard to predict exactly what Apple is going to do here, but a more modern design seemed like a pretty safe bet. After all, the original iPhone SE was a throwback to the iPhone 5, while the current iPhone SE is basically an iPhone 8 with a faster A13 CPU.
This led some to believe that Apple would, at the very least, adopt the iPhone 11’s design language for the next iPhone SE, but reports from earlier this year suggest that the company isn’t willing to do that — at least not yet.
It also could be fair to say that it’s perhaps a bit too soon to follow in the footsteps of an earlier model. The prior two iPhone SE releases may have followed older designs, but they also effectively replaced those older models.
At this point, however, Apple is still selling the iPhone 11 for only $100 more than the current iPhone SE. Adopting a similar design — or worse yet, moving beyond it into something more modern — would substantially confuse the lineup.
Instead, Apple is said to be focusing entirely on the insides of the third-generation iPhone SE, which may otherwise be indistinguishable from its 2020 predecessor.
Multiple reports have already suggested that the next iPhone SE will feature 5G technology, effectively making it the cheapest 5G iPhone ever, and pitting it against mid-range Android smartphones such as Google’s Pixel 5a.
Apple Isn’t Cutting Corners on 5G
This will actually mark the first time a new iPhone SE has gotten more than just a CPU upgrade over its progenitor, and it looks like Apple won’t be taking any shortcuts when it comes to delivering top-notch 5G capabilities on the new entry-level iPhone.
A new report from Mac Otakara confirms other recent reports, while also adding that the third-generation iPhone SE is expected to not only use Apple’s latest A15 processor, but also the same Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 5G modem that’s in the just-released iPhone 13 lineup.
Although the presence of the A15 chip seemed like a given, as previous iPhone SE models have always used the most current A-series chip available, Apple is breaking new ground by improving its cellular capabilities. There was a chance that it could have gone with the older Qualcomm X55 chip from the iPhone 12, or even the more basic X51 to keeps costs down, but clearly it’s decided that delivering leading-edge 5G capabilities is more important.
This means that not only will the next iPhone SE include a CPU that’s just as fast as the iPhone 13, but it will also be able to achieve the same standard 5G cellular speeds.
What we don’t know yet is whether Apple plans to release an mmWave-capable version of the iPhone SE, since this has as much to do with antenna design as it does with the chipset. The X60 chip can certainly handle mmWave, but it’s hard to say if Apple will consider that a “premium” feature to be reserved for its mainstream iPhone models, or something that should be universally available.
That said, this isn’t something that most users are going to need to worry about in the short term, as mmWave 5G hasn’t been widely deployed even in the U.S., and even the mmWave-capable iPhone 13 is still only being sold in the U.S. While 5G technology is still evolving, it’s too early in the game for an mmWave iPhone SE to be all that relevant, and if Apple does add these higher-speed 5G capabilities, it’s going to be more of a marketing bullet-point than anything else at this point.
When Is the Next iPhone SE Coming?
The new iPhone SE is expected to arrive sometime in early 2022, basically following in the footsteps of its predecessors. While it won’t feature any significant design changes, there are rumours that Apple is working on something bigger for 2023, although we remain a bit skeptical that Apple will be ready to release yet another iPhone SE quite that soon.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]