By all reports Apple is planning to release a lower-cost iPhone this spring in the form of an update to the iPhone 8, and now a new series of renders are giving us another peek at exactly what the new iPhone may actually look like.
While the new inexpensive iPhone model has been dubbed the “iPhone SE 2” because it’s believed to be a third-tier iPhone that would follow in the footsteps of the original iPhone SE, in reality it will likely be nothing like the iPhone SE in design, but merely in concept.
When the iPhone SE was released back in early 2016, it was essentially Apple’s 2013 iPhone 5s, repackaged with a current-generation CPU to match the iPhone 6s. Apple is expected to do the same thing in principle this time around by taking a 2.5-year old iPhone — in this case, the iPhone 8 — and updating it to the A13 CPU that’s currently found in Apple’s iPhone 11 lineup.
As a result, there have been suggestions that the new model will be called the “iPhone 9” and although that’s far from a certainty, it makes a lot of sense considering that Apple skipped over that number on the way to the radically different iPhone X, and of course it would reflect the more traditional design of the new model.
Now Steve Hemmerstoffer of OnLeaks, who shared fairly accurate renders of the iPhone 11 Pro nine months before the device was released, is offering up some new renders of the “iPhone 9.”
We already know from earlier reports by reliable analysts such as Ming-Chi Kuo that the new budget-friendly iPhone will follow in the footsteps of the iPhone 8. In fact, by all reports, it’s expected to be virtually identical in all of its specs with the exception of an increase to an A13 CPU and 3GB of RAM to bring its performance in line with Apple’s iPhone 11. It also seems likely that it will lose 3D Touch, since the iPhone 8 is now the only model Apple sells that still includes this feature. Eliminating it would also reduce manufacturing costs, allowing Apple to price the new handset more aggressively; right now Apple is still selling the iPhone 8 for $449, while the new “iPhone 9” is expected to hit $399.
What’s more notable about OnLeaks’ newest renders, however, is that they show a frosted glass back and a polished metal frame, much like the finish on the iPhone 11 Pro. However Hemmerstoffer told MacRumors that these were creative assumptions on his part, and while nothing is known for sure about the mateirals Apple will use for the new lower-cost iPhone, it does seem likely it will stick with more inexpensive finishes.
That said, it’s not inconceivable that Apple may want to change up the design in some way to set it apart from the iPhone 8, but it seems like a bit of a stretch for Apple to equip its lowest-tier iPhone with the same materials and finishes that distinguish its highest-end “Pro” iPhone models.
Better Battery Life?
While the height and width of the new device are expected to be identical to the iPhone 8, OnLeaks notes that the iPhone 9 will actually be about 0.5 mm thicker than it predecessor. Combined with the removal of the 3D Touch screen layer, this strongly suggests that Apple is making room to pack in a larger battery. This would be in line with Apple’s recent trend away from sacrificing battery life in the name of thinness, and with power efficiency improvements in Apple’s latest A-series chips, it’s unlikely that a larger battery would be required simply to support the new CPU.
While it’s all but certain that a 4.7-inch “iPhone 9” is coming this spring, we also heard a rumour last week that Apple might release two “iPhone 9” models. While this makes some sense in light of the fact that Apple still sells the iPhone 8 Plus right now, the rumour comes from a less reliable source and some have suggested that it could be conflated with other reports of a more advanced “iPhone SE 2 Plus” type device that some analysts are expecting to arrive in early 2021. This later model could be the iPhone XE that we heard some rumours about last year, incorporating an iPhone X style full-screen design but eliminating Face ID in favour of an in-display Touch ID sensor.