It looks like Apple’s “iPhone SE redux” that we’ve been hearing about over the past few months may now be just around the corner, with a new report revealing that it’s entered the final stages of production.
Despite early reports that the coronavirus outbreak in China could delay manufacturing for the new low-cost iPhone, suppliers insisted they would meet targets for the device. However, as factories began ramping up more slowly than expected, many still wondered if that was actually true.
Today, however, a new report from DigiTimes (via MacRumors) reveals that, according to industry sources, the new iPhone has entered the “final verification stage” at an assembly plant in Zhengzhou, China. As the name implies, this is the last step before the new units actually begin getting packaged and shipped out, suggesting that the new iPhone should be available as scheduled and would likely be announced at a rumoured March 31 event.
Reports of a new lost-cost iPhone have been swirling for almost a year now, and although there’s been no definitive word on what Apple could choose to name it, most recent reports have been leaning toward the ”iPhone 9” rather than the “iPhone SE 2” moniker that has long been used a placeholder. However, although the pattern of re-releasing an older iPhone model with a more current CPU was first established with the original iPhone SE back in 2016, this new model won’t really have anything else in common with the one that came before, and “iPhone SE 2” really just feels like a placeholder name to us.
Of course, it’s also possible that Apple could go with a completely different name than anything we’ve yet heard (after all, almost nobody saw the “iPhone X” coming back in 2017), but from everything we’ve heard, it’s going to be an upgraded iPhone 8 either way, making it effectively an “iPhone 8s” or “iPhone 9” in concept regardless of what Apple actually chooses to call it.
By all reports the new iPhone will look virtually identical to the iPhone 8, with the same screen size, casing, and home button design, and in fact will also sport the same camera specs too. What will differentiate it from the 2017 iPhone 8 (which Apple still sells right now) is an upgrade to the same A13 CPU used on Apple’s iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models, along with the absence of the 3D Touch feature that’s not found on any other current iPhone.
If predictions are true, there will be one other big difference from the iPhone 8 — the price tag. Apple still sells the 2.5-year-old iPhone 8 for $449, but the new “iPhone 9” is expected to sell for prices starting at $399. Considering that the older iPhone 8 still came in at seventh place in overall smartphone sales last year, it’s safe to say that a model with current CPU specs and a $50 cheaper price tag is almost sure to sell like hotcakes.
One thing that’s not clear from the DigiTimes report, which is behind a paywall right now, is what the supply of the new iPhone will be like. Presumably there will be enough models to let Apple get it into stores, but if there’s a lot of pent-up demand that’s been waiting for a new iPhone in the traditional Touch ID form factor, Apple may not be able to produce enough units to keep up as its Chinese supply chain continues to bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.