With the original iPhone SE discontinued in September, leaving the two-year-old iPhone 7 as the most affordable model in the iPhone line-up, a follow-up iPhone SE 2 was starting to look like no more than wishful thinking. However, with Apple warning that it expected to have sold fewer iPhones than it anticipated during it's quarter that included Christmas 2018, pointing the finger at China as being the biggest reason for the fall out, could the SE2 be just what Apple needs to claw its way back?
Apple's Tim Cook suggested that China was key to Apple's reduction in estimates for what will be Apple's first fiscal quarter of the 2019 financial year. Cook blaimed the trade wars with China (and the Trump administration), but it's more than that. Cook refers to the current economic downturn in China, where there is a huge pretty much untapped market of consumers that Apple wants to target. It seems like the iPhones on offer aren't meeting the demand for an affordable handset in a continent where there are so many cheaper handsets on offer from the Far East's own mobile phone manufacturers.
There are a few reasons for this lack of appeal, but from the perspective this article about hopes for an iPhone SE 2, what is lacking from Apple's iPhone line up is a new-but-also-low-priced handset that will appeal to fashion-conscious consumers who want a low-cost phone but don't want to have to settle for one that is more than two years old.
It's certainly possible that Apple sees the iPhone XR as fulfilling this criteria. With a more affordable price of £749/US$749 it's cheaper than the iPhone XS, but it's still almost double what the SE cost at launch.
In what could be seen as an attempt to disguise the high price of the XR Apple is actually advertising the handset as if it costs £499/$499 but that is only as a trade-in if you have a reasonably new handset to swap. It's telling that Apple's strategy for selling an already lower-priced handset is to try and make it look even cheaper.
What Apple needs is a phone that really costs £499/$499.
The other problem is that the iPhone XR has a 6.1in LCD screen, which might actually appeal to some consumers, but for others is not the smaller iPhone fans were hoping for.
Read on to find out more about the iPhone SE 2 as we collect and analyse the clues and evidence pointing to the release date of Apple's follow-up to the iPhone SE, as well as tech specs, design, new features, pricing and leaked photos.
This page will be updated whenever new information emerges, so check back regularly for the latest iPhone SE 2 rumours. For buying advice related to the current range, take a look at our roundup of the best iPhone SE deals as well as our iPhone buying guide.
Will there be a new cheap iPhone?
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's predictions in early 2018 rang true; he suggested that along with updates to the iPhone X and a bigger version with an OLED screen (now known to be the iPhone XS and XS Max), Apple would launch a cheaper iPhone in September 2018. Except the new phone would be a 6.1in model with an LCD screen that it would be priced much higher than the iPhone SE is currently.
This is essentially what happened. The iPhone XR arrived and the iPhone SE was discontinued in September 2018, leaving Apple's lower-priced and older iPhones to meet the budgetary demands of the low-end of the market.
This is a typical strategy for Apple, to focus on making more money from the phones it does sell, with a higher amount of profit per device sold. This has always worked well for the company - and pleased its shareholders. Speaking of shareholders, Apple announced in its Q4 2018 financial call that it would no longer report per device sales instead focusing on profit. This is key: Apple anticipated that it would see fewer sales of handsets, but intended to continue to make lots of money, and that's what it wanted attention to be on.
However, following Tim Cook's profit warning to investors in early January 2019 it seems that that strategy may not be paying off as well as Apple had hoped.
We're talking a lot about the market in China above, but all the above probably rings true in the rest of the world. Could a new cheaper handset be the solution to falling sales and the associated lower profit in these times of economic uncertainty?
Will there be a new smaller iPhone?
If the iPhone XR is indeed the replacement for the iPhone SE, does that mean Apple will no longer continue to sell a smaller handset? Perhaps. But before you rush off to look at smaller Android handsets, bear in mind that the iPhone XS squeezes a bigger screen into a smaller handset that's 143.6mm by 70.9mm, and is 7.7m thick, while the iPhone SE is still a small 123.8mm by 58.6mm and 7.6mm thick. That's just 2cm longer and slightly more than 1cm wider, so the iPhone XS may not be as massive as you were thinking...
Still, if you think small is perfect, don't give up hope - we've seen details of a leaked screen protector and "factory CAD shots", both of which point to an iPhone X-style notch design on a small SE-sized handset.
iPhone SE 2 release date
The iPhone XR confirms the original rumours of the "budget" version of the iPhone X poised for a launched in 2018, but as we explained above, the XR is no replacement for the iPhone SE. So, could an iPhone SE 2 launch?
It's possible that an iPhone SE 2 could arrive in Spring 2019, which would be three years after that handset first launched.
iPhone SE 2: Price
Until September 2018 the iPhone SE was available in 32GB and 128GB versions. In the UK the 32GB model cost £379; 128GB is £479. (For comparison, in the US the iPhone SE cost $399 for 32GB and $449 for 129GB.)
It would be reasonable to expect the iPhone SE 2 to be similarly priced when (and if) it launches.
iPhone SE 2: Availability
If the SE 2 is launched, it may not launch where you live. Some reports in 2018 suggested that a new SE handset might launch, but not be available everywhere.
According to the Economic Daily, a Chinese-language site, Apple is working on a low-end iPhone codenamed Hangzhou. This low-end, lower-priced model will apparently be launched in an attempt to "seize the low-end market" in China and India.
Another report claims that the SE 2 will launch in India prior to launching in other territories. This sounds dubious to us, although it might fit with Apple's plans to offer a cheaper handset to certain territories (normally Apple does this by offering an older version of the iPhone to certain countries).
iPhone SE 2: Design
Amide the rumours of the LCD iPhone, which turned out to be the iPhone XR, in 2018 there were still some reports suggesting that there might be an iPhone SE style new iPhone in the pipeline.
However, back in 2018 the idea that Apple would redesign the iPhone SE didn't get a lot of support from analysts, who, like Ming-Chi Kuo, believed that Apple was too busy with the successors to the iPhones X and 8 to dedicate time and resources to this entry-level handset. That certainly seems to have been the case.
A Chinese report from February 2018 said the new iPhone SE 2 will have a similar design to the current iPhone SE. However, it will have a larger 4.2in display, apparently. The bigger display won't be due to it having an all screen display like the iPhone X, though. The report states that it will still maintain the classic iPhone shape and the front Home button to support fingerprint recognition.
Another prediction comes from a Macotakara report, which says that the headphone port is going to disappear. This claim was based on assertions by a case maker - and ports are exactly the kind of thing that case makers need to know about.
A complete redesign aside, one thing that is likely to change is the colour options.
The iPhone SE was available in silver, gold, Space Grey and Rose Gold options. The iPhone SE 2 is likely to be available in silver, gold, and Space Grey - like the iPhone 8. The Rose Gold and gold version kind of merged in the iPhone 8 so it is likely that the new iPhone SE will also offer this new brassier gold colour option rather than two gold options.
Alternatively, we could see a new iPhone in iPhone 5C-style colours - as is the case with the iPhone XR handset.
The iPhone SE had a 4in screen (that's 4 inches measured diagonally). The handset itself measures 123.8mm by 58.6mm and it's 7.6mm thick. It weighs 113g.
The new iPhone SE dimensions may slim down further. For example, the phone might be as thin as the iPhone 8 at 7.3mm. If Apple was to ditch the iPhone 5s-esque design for the iPhone SE, in favour of mimicking the iPhone 8 design, this could be feasible.
iPhone SE 2: Leaked photos
Despite the lack of certainty about whether Apple will update the SE, we've seen a number of iPhone SE 2-related leaks. One posted on 31 May 2018, shows screen protectors for the SE 2 and the iPhone X, and appears to confirm that the former will have the same notch design as the latter. (According to OnLeaks, accessory makers including Alibaba are also preparing for a notch design.)
Images appearing on 26 April show a design featuring a new glass back for wireless charging - and a 3.5mm hole for a headphone jack. The latter news will come as a surprise to some, given that just days earlier another image appeared that appeared to show no headphone jack.
The images appeared on a Chinese social network site, and it's not clear how trustworthy they are.
Slashleaks has posted an image allegedly showing the chassis of the iPhone SE 2 in two colours - gold and Rose Gold. And they fairly clearly have glass backs, which suggests support for wireless charging.
Beyond that, we move into the realm of concept illustrations: images and videos created to explore design concepts rather than actual leaks.
Here's a factory CAD shot from OnLeaks, who warns that he is "still unable to confirm this":
The case maker Olixar has created a render of the iPhone SE 2018 for a screen protector product it plans to sell; the image was provided to us by Mobile Fun. The firm says this is based on information from the supply chain.
Here's a idea of what we could expect from Concept Creator, imagining what the iPhone SE 2 might look like if Apple was to give it an iPhone X-like redesign and some vivid new colour finishes:
Concept Creator previously made another iPhone SE 2 video with an iPhone X remake theme:
iPhone SE 2: Specs
As for the components inside the new iPhone SE 2, here's what the rumours are indicating:
According to a Tekz24 report back in August 2017, the new iPhone SE 2 will use the A10 Fusion chip (as seen in the iPhone 7). The SE currently offers an A9 chip, as used in the iPhone 6S.
This Chinese report from February also suggests that the new iPhone will use the A10 Fusion chip, rather than the A9 in the current model, but sport 2GB of RAM and 32GB or 128GB capacities, as currently.
Months later and code in Apple's XCode developer software seems to hint that a new iPhone that shares specs with the iPhone 7 may be in the pipeline. This phone - signified by the name iPhone XX (that's not what the phone will be called, rather a placeholder) - seems to have an A10 processor, like the iPhone 7. It could be a successor to the iPhone SE, but it's not clear if it is the LCD version of the iPhone X, or a SE-sized handset.
Guilherme Rambo of 9to5Mac referred to the code in a 22 August tweet, noting that the code refers to a device with an A10 processor and P3-gamut display, but no notch or Face ID - so it could be an SE replacement as the LCD iPhone X is thought to have a notch for Face ID.
T500 / iPhone 9,7 - iPhone 7 replacement ("iPhone SE2")— Guilherme Rambo (@_inside) August 22, 2018
N84 / iPhone 11,1 - 6.1" LCD (notch, Face ID, dual sim option)
D3x / iPhone 11,3 - 5.8" OLED (notch, Face ID)
D3x / iPhone 11,5 - 6.5" OLED (notch, Face ID)
Developer Steve Troughton Smith tweeted the suggestion that this could signify a "cheaper-to-manufacture" iPhone 7.
Exactly this; a cheaper-to-manufacture iPhone 7 perhaps with new component suppliers & factories. I wouldn't read any more into it given the information we have https://t.co/i8oUvJcMZg— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) August 22, 2018
It's been suggested that the iPhone SE could have a 4.2in screen rather than the current 4in. The extra .2in being made possible by reducing the size of the bezels. Although unlike the iPhone X, which has a screen that stretches to the base of the phone - and thus no Home Button - the Home button is expected to remain on the SE 2.
The naysayers suggest that Apple wouldn't extensively change the design of the iPhone SE for such a minimal change in the dimensions of the screen, however. It would involve a lot of research and development for little noticeable difference to the consumer.
We could see a 5Mp or 7Mp FaceTime camera with Retina Flash replace the 1.2Mp FaceTime camera in the current model.
Other than that, it is likely to keep many of the features of the current iPhone SE, such as:
- 12Mp camera: The current SE offers 12-megapixels with an f/2.2 aperture.The iPhone 8 has an f/1.8 aperture.
- No bump: One key difference between the iPhone SE and 8 is the lack of camera bump on the bigger model. Hopefully the new iPhone SE camera on the back of the iPhone will also be flat.
The battery will also have a slightly raised rating from 1,640mAh to 1,700mAh - this might be necessary to power the slightly larger display, if that happens.
iPhone SE 2: Features
The new iPhone SE won't be a flagship, so you shouldn't expect any totally new features - it's more a question of which features will trickle down from the top-end iPhone X and 8 Plus.
This is the biggie, and if we're looking at an iPhone SE with Face ID it would imply that we're also getting an edge-to-edge screen and no Home button.
The new iPhone SE 2 could offer wireless charging thanks to the rumoured glass back. Tekz24 cites a "very reliable source" who says the new iPhone SE 2 will have a glass back panel and "might support wireless charging".