The iPhone SE (2020) is easily one of the best-value products in Apple's entire catalogue, matched only by the iPad 10.2in (2021). But does the tech giant intend to change its sporadic update of the SE line to one that is more regular? We take a look at the rumours surrounding the next-gen iPhone SE.

When will the iPhone SE (2021) be released?

Apple’s approach to the iPhone SE hasn’t exactly been predictable. The original iPhone SE appeared way back in March 2016 and, aside from a storage bump in March 2017, then went four years without an update. In fact, Apple actually retired the iPhone SE in 2018, leaving many suspecting that the cheaper iPhone had had its day.

But the arrival of the iPhone SE (2020) in April 2020 was a welcome addition to the range and signalled that maybe Apple recognised the need for a more affordable option.

Here’s when the previous iPhone SE models made their debuts:

  • iPhone SE (16 & 64GB versions): 31 March 2016
  • iPhone SE (32GB & 64GB versions): 24 March 2017
  • iPhone SE (2020): 24 April 2020

Industry watchers have speculated that there will be another iPhone SE, with the quite reliable Ming-Chi Kuo expecting an Autumn 2021 release, although with no appearance at Apple's September event, that's looking increasingly unlikely.

However, JP Morgan supply chain analyst William Yang suggests that we shouldn't expect a new iPhone SE in 2021 at all, predicting instead a release in the first half of 2022.

That's backed up by a July 2021 DigiTimes report, which also suggests that Apple is preparing to launch the next-gen iPhone SE in the first half of 2022, suggesting we might be waiting a little longer for the next budget-friendly iPhone - possibly until April 2022, matching the release schedule of the 2020 variant. 

Interestingly, Apple has quietly stopped selling the top-end 256GB variant of iPhone SE (though it remains available at third-party retailers and carriers for now). The move could signal that the third-gen iPhone SE is indeed in development, and it's beginning to wind down production on the current model.

It's also the most expensive of Apple's budget iPhone range, so it was likely the least popular of the range. 

How much will the iPhone SE (2021) cost?

We don’t think Apple will stray too far from current pricing, as the iPhone range now has a good structure that keeps the various models available in their own strata without cannibalising those around them.  

Here’s how they stack up:

  • iPhone SE - £399/$399
  • iPhone XR - £499/$499
  • iPhone 11 - £599/$599
  • iPhone 12 mini - £699/$699
  • iPhone 12 - £799/$799
  • iPhone 12 Pro - £999/$999
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max - £1,099/$1,099
  • iPhone 13 mini - £699/$699
  • iPhone 13 - £799/$799
  • iPhone 13 Pro - £999/$999
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max - £1,099/$1,099

The current iPhone SE (2020) starts at £399/$399 and we fully expect any updated version to do so as well.

iPhone SE (2021) rumours

What new features will we see in the iPhone SE (2021)?

As Apple is yet to even confirm the existence of a new iPhone SE, there are no official details currently available on what it may contain. Of course, that hasn’t stopped plenty of rumour-mongering in the tech world, so here’s what we think you might see in the new iPhone SE.

5G 

The most obvious addition to a new model would be 5G connectivity. All of the iPhone 12 models that arrived in 2020 had this feature, and it’s one that we’ve also seen on a number of Android phones, including those at similar price points to the iPhone SE (2020). Models like the OnePlus Nord, Motorola Edge and Realme 7 5G, boast the feature, all of which you’ll find in our roundup of the best cheap 5G phones.

That's backed up by a report from Macotakara, a Japanese Apple-focused site with a decent track record when it comes to Apple predictions. 

5G isn’t definite though, as the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 remain in the current catalogue, both above the iPhone SE, and neither of them had 5G connectivity.

A15 Bionic processor

Easily one of the most surprising things about the iPhone SE (2020) is that it received the same A13 Bionic processor as the iPhone 11 range that were the flagships at the time. If Apple follows suit and releases an iPhone SE upgrade in 2021, we think it’s likely that the upgrade may also feature the A15 Bionic found in the iPhone 13 line-up.

It won’t be a disaster if this doesn’t happen, as the A13 is a very fast processor, but Apple didn’t skimp on the iPhone SE (2020) so there are signs that the same might be true of a 2021 edition. JP Morgan analyst William Yang believes so, suggesting in a note to investors that the next-gen iPhone SE will sport an upgraded chipset, and Macotakara goes a step further by suggesting it'll feature the A15 Bionic. 

New design

While the iPhone SE (2020) may only have been given a makeover last year, taking on the frame of the iPhone 8 and its predecessors, some speculation has been doing the rounds that Apple may continue this practice with the new model. Moving into the roomier chassis of an iPhone XR or iPhone 11 would mean Apple could leave Touch ID behind and bring its full-screen iPhone experience to those who have previously baulked at the entry price.

Face ID is now well established, and as such the price of construction and parts should have dropped enough that it would be viable on a cheaper device. There’s also the advantage that moving to the iPhone XR or 11 frames would only require updating the innards of those models while delivering a true upgrade to the SE badge.

However, Japanese Apple site Macotakara suggests that the upcoming iPhone SE will sport the same design as the current model, complete with a Home button and Touch ID, meaning we may have to wait a little longer to get an iPhone 11-esque design on Apple's entry-level smartphone. 

Night mode

iPhone SE (2021) rumours

With so many rival cameras now featuring some kind of Night Mode, it would make sense that this low-light photography feature comes to the iPhone SE (2021). It's off that the current SE doesn't have one.

As you can see, there’s still much to be revealed about the new model of iPhone SE. We’ll be updating this article as more news appears, so be sure to check back. In the meantime, take a look at our guide to the best iPhones and best iPhone 12 deals to see which will suit your needs.

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