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Now that Apple has fully embraced 5G technology in its mainstream iPhone lineup, there’s little doubt that the wallet-friendly iPhone SE will be the next frontier for the faster wireless technology, and analysts are expecting that this could be the most important contribution to Apple’s bottom line in 2022.
It’s been obvious that the iPhone SE would eventually get the 5G treatment since before the iPhone 12 was even released, especially as new lower-cost 5G modem chipsets brought the cellular technology within the reach of more affordable smartphones.
While we were hoping to see a new 5G iPhone SE arrive this year, several analysts, including the generally reliable Ming-Chi Kuo, have made it clear that it’s on the roadmap for 2022 instead. However, the consensus is also that the most significant addition to the next-generation iPhone SE will be the addition of 5G technology.
Sadly, this means that anybody who is hoping for a new design for Apple’s entry-level iPhone is going to have to wait a bit longer. According to Kuo, the next iPhone SE will follow the same iPhone 8 design, including the Touch ID Home button, while packing in an A14 or A15 processor and 5G capabilities.
The good news, however, is that based on Apple’s track record with the iPhone SE, we’re likely to see it jump to the same A15 processor that’s expected to arrive with this year’s flagship “iPhone 13” lineup — and possibly even the rumoured “iPad mini 6”.
After all, both of the prior iPhone SE models, released in the spring of 2016 and 2020, respectively, gained the same A-series chips as the premium iPhone models that had immediately preceded them.
It’s Expected to Be a Big Hit
Apple’s 5G iPhone SE is expected to sell for the same $399 price tag as the current model, since the $499 and $599 price points are already occupied by the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 — and this year Apple will likely just shift the iPhone 11 down to the $499 level and keep selling the current iPhone 12 for $599 after it releases the new “iPhone 13” lineup.
This would also explain why Apple isn’t putting too much money into a new design or other features, since it clearly wants to keep the iPhone SE as affordable as possible. More importantly, it would be a huge marketing play, since Apple could position it as “the cheapest iPhone 5G ever.”
As a result, analysts have been predicting that Apple will have a massive hit on its hands, helping to drive another record year for Apple’s earnings, and push the company’s stock price north of $180.
In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, JP Morgan lead analyst Samik Chatterjee predicts that Apple will sell 246 million iPhones next year, setting a record for handset shipments, which will be driven largely by the low-cost iPhone SE.
With 5G now reaching maturity, consumers are much more likely to opt for a phone that supports the newer cellular technology, and at $399 a 5G iPhone SE would easily dominate that lower end of the market, with a price that’s extremely competitive even by the standards of comparable budget Android phones.
Consider that Google’s 5G-equipped Pixel 4a sold for $499, and it’s only managed to shave $50 off that with the just-announced Pixel 5a. While there are a few cheaper 5G Android phones available, they can’t even compare to the performance of the current iPhone SE, much less what an A15-equipped model will be able to do.
So, it’s not hard to see why getting a 5G chip into an iPhone at an affordable price is a more immediate priority for Apple, but we’re still expecting bigger and better things from future iPhone SE generations.
Reports have been swirling for at least a couple of years now that Apple is working on an iPhone SE Plus that would adopt a design language much more similar to the iPhone 12 and iPad Air 4, using a side-button Touch ID sensor for authentication rather than a TrueDepth camera for Face ID.
For now, however, those plans seem to be on hold, and the usual sources have been pretty quiet about what’s happening on that front. We’re unlikely to see yet another iPhone SE until at least 2023 or even 2024, but we can keep on hoping that it comes sooner rather than later.
[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.]