Apple’s iPhones are superb smartphones, but they also cost a bomb. That’s hardly surprising – if you want the best, you have to pay for it, after all – but what about those who can’t afford to or choose not to meet the high price tag? Apple has an iPhone for them too, the iPhone SE, and rumours abound that a new model is about to launch.
The iPhone SE 3 could launch as soon as next month, with more power than ever before and 5G for the first time. But its price tag should still be pleasingly low. Excited? You should be. Here’s everything we know so far about the iPhone SE 3.
iPhone SE 3: release date rumours
Unlike most phones, the iPhone SE isn’t updated every year. Which makes a new model all the more exciting.
Indeed, fans had to wait an epic four years between the launch of the original iPhone SE in 2016 and its follow-up in 2020. But now it seems the third model could launch as soon as next month, a relatively quick two years after the 2020 model.
That’s according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who is usually pretty accurate with his leaks where Apple announcements are concerned. A source has told him Apple is eyeing a launch date of 8th March. Though there is a bit of wiggle room – Gurman says Apple is planning to launch “on or near” that date. So it could be some other time in early March.
Previously, the launch was said to be in March or April, so this more recent leak has narrowed it down somewhat.
Japanese Apple blog Mac Otakara has gone a step further and claimed the iPhone SE 3 has already started production. It claims this information comes from “reliable sources in China” – we’ll have to take its word for that. But if Apple’s launch event is taking place in early March, it makes sense that production would have already started.
The event in question would be Apple’s spring event, which it holds almost every year. As such, the iPhone SE 3 probably won’t be the only thing Apple launches at that time – it’s also said to have a new iPad Air up its sleeve. And then of course, there’s the next version of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, which runs on iPhones and should arrive sometime in early March. Plenty to look forward to...
iPhone SE 3: price leaks
There are no price leaks to go on as yet, but this being the iPhone SE, don’t expect it to break the bank. At least, not for an iPhone.
The current iPhone SE costs £389, down from its launch price two years ago of £419. If the new handset pans out as the leaks suggest, we would imagine it will carry price tag somewhere just over £400.
Not exactly cheap. But let’s see how it would fit into the current iPhone line-up.
The iPhone 11, which launched a few months after the current SE, currently costs £489. Admittedly this comes with a big 6.1-inch screen, ultra-slim bezels (thanks to the lack of home button) and dual camera system. Many would happily forego some of these more advanced features in order to save money. After all, the new SE would run the same software as even the latest high-end iPhone, so using it would be a broadly similar experience.
Of the current range, the iPhone 13 Mini is the cheapest option, and that still comes in at £679 (more if you want more than the basic 128GB storage). There’s a definite market for a cheaper iPhone, and if Apple can offer decent specs at a more affordable price, it could be onto a winner.
iPhone SE 3: specs news
The SE has never been the highest-specced handset in the iPhone range, and chances are that won’t change with the third-gen iteration. It is still a budget handset, after all. But the iPhone SE 3 is said to get one killer feature over its predecessors: 5G.
That’s according to the same Apple leaker Mark Gurman, mentioned earlier in this article. 5G allows for superfast web browsing over a data connection, so you can get wi-fi speeds without connecting to a hotspot. The downside? You could quickly eat through your data allowance. So unless you’re on an unlimited data package, be careful how much you download or stream.
There is another downside to 5G – coverage. Or lack of. 5G is already available across the UK, but it’s mostly limited to towns and cities. You can use this 5G coverage checker to see if you can get it where you live. Of course this should improve over time, and the SE 3 will still work on 4G where 5G isn’t available. But don’t go thinking if you buy it – or another 5G phone – you’ll get superfast speeds wherever you are.
A new camera is also thought to be on the cards. While there aren’t many details on this at present, it’s thought to still be only a single camera, rather than the dual or even triple lens arrangements found on Apple’s pricier iPhones.
We could be in for a bigger screen too – though not too much bigger (see why in the next section) – and a new processor. While this processor would be new to the iPhone SE, it will most probably be one featured in one of Apple’s older iPhones, so it wouldn’t be completely new, just new to the iPhone SE range. The current SE is powered by the A13 Bionic, the same chip seen in the iPhone 11, which launched the same year, remember. Word is the third-gen SE will have the A15 Bionic – the same processor used in the iPhone 13. Which would give it plenty of power.
If these specs are on the money, it’s all adding up to be quite a handset.
iPhone SE 3: design rumours
The iPhone SE 3 might have plenty of new elements, but the overall design isn’t said to change much. While the screen will get bigger, it can’t go too much bigger because the phone will still have a physical home button. This will need to be housed somewhere, so analysts say the SE 3 will, like the current model and the one before it, have a big ‘chin’ at the bottom of the phone.
It’s a shame, as it will mean the phone can’t have an all-screen design like the iPhone 13 family. But Apple has to save money somewhere, and using the old shell (similar to the iPhone 8) is a handy way to do so.
It also won’t want to cannibalise sales of its pricier handsets. And if punters see they could get the same experience on the SE at a fraction of the price of an iPhone 13, why would they opt for the latter?
The physical home button was a fixture of the iPhone since the original Apple handset debuted in 2007. Apple dropped it for the iPhone X in 2017, which fundamentally changed how you use the device – instead of pressing the home button to exit an app, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. It sounds confusing, but is a cinch to get to grips with.
It’s a handy way to tell if someone is using a high-end iPhone. If it has a home button, it’s either an older model, or the cheaper iPhone SE.
iPhone SE 3: early verdict
So, to recap: 5G, a bigger screen, new camera, same design, faster processor. A lot to digest.
But if the leaks are right – and they often are – we could be looking at an Apple handset to rival the best budget Android phones out there. And we could see it very soon indeed – early March is getting closer by the minute. Stay tuned for more as we get it.