The iPhone SE 3 is widely expected to be Apple’s next phone release, as Apple looks to revamp the cheapest iPhone you can buy with some new features that are noticeably missing from the current version.
With the current iPhone SE just a few months shy of its second birthday, that might seem like a relatively short gap between updates, especially since Apple spent four years between the release of the original iPhone SE and the 2020 version. But trust us: It makes sense that Apple release an update sooner rather than later if the low-cost iPhone wants to keep its appeal.
Apple watchers expect an Apple event in March or April where the iPhone SE 3 could make its debut. When it shows up, expect these features to be on the new iPhone’s spec sheet.
1. 5G connectivity
Frankly, this is the likely reason why we’re getting an iPhone SE update now. When the 2020 iPhone SE arrived, 5G networks had been around for barely a year, with speeds only slightly faster than LTE in most cases. In the following two years, 5G technology quickly spread across the country. T-Mobile’s nationwide network now reaches 308 million people, and 200 million of that total have access to the carrier’s fastest Ultra Capacity 5G speeds. By the time the iPhone SE 3 is rumored to launch, AT&T and Verizon will have activated their 5G expansion based on C-band spectrum, bringing faster speeds to more of their customers.
In Apple’s current lineup, the iPhone SE and iPhone 11 are the only phones that lack 5G support. Those also happen to be the two least expensive phones Apple offers. At the same time, Android phone makers have added 5G connectivity to devices that cost $500 or less. Our list of the best 5G phones includes several low-cost models.
Apple has come to accept having a low-cost option among its smartphones as it expands the company’s appeal beyond premium smartphones. (It also helps with Apple’s overseas business in countries where people aren’t willing to pay top dollar for an iPhone 13 Pro Max.) For the iPhone SE to remain an attractive option for bargain hunters, the phone will have to work with 5G.
2. A15 bionic chip
Apple follows a pretty recognizable playbook with its iPhone SE launches: take the chipset that powered last fall’s flagship iPhones and insert it into the low-cost model it’ll introduce the following spring. That’s why the original iPhone SE ran on the same A9 system-on-chip found in the iPhone 6s and why the 2020 iPhone SE used the A13 Bionic chipset from the iPhone 11.
If Apple follows that same pattern with the iPhone SE 3, we’re looking at the A15 Bionic chip that debuted with the iPhone 13 family last fall. That’s great news if you’re looking for a new iPhone but don’t want to pay $699 or more for one of the iPhone 13 versions. The A15 Bionic remains the best-performing mobile silicon we’ve tested. Any phone with an A15 should keep up with the competition for several years, even if the phone with that chip is a budget model like the iPhone SE.
3. Night shift support
It seems unlikely that Apple will increase the number of single camera lenses that have been a mainstay of the iPhone SE. After all, you have to differentiate between that phone and the iPhone 13 mini somehow. But there are photographic features that Apple could add without having to opt for a second lens.
The biggest thing missing from the current iPhone SE is support for Night Shift. Presumably, the iPhone SE will have enough power under the hood to support the computational photography needed to improve low-light shots. Google’s Pixel 5a has a night mode, which helps put this low-cost device among the best camera phones, so the iPhone SE 3 will need to keep up.
4. A better battery
As much as we appreciate the current iPhone SE, one area where Apple’s phone falls short has to do with battery life. When we tested the iPhone two years ago, the iPhone SE lasted just over 9 hours, which is below average for a smartphone.
Apple can’t do much about battery life, given rumors suggesting the iPhone SE’s design won’t change for the new version. (More on that in a bit.) However, the release of the iPhone 13 last fall gives us hope that Apple has figured out a way to increase the battery life of its phones. After all but the iPhone 12 Pro Max iPhone 12 models took a step back with battery life, Apple beefed up the longevity of each of the comparable iPhone 13 models, with a couple even making it to our list. list of the best phone battery life.
Admittedly, the main way Apple did this was by opting for larger batteries for the iPhone 13, which may not necessarily be an available option for the iPhone SE 3. Still, we hope Apple has learned something about battery management. of energy that will allow any new phone to work. last longer on a charge.
5. Face ID for iPhone SE
All phones sold by Apple except the current iPhone SE support Apple’s face unlock feature. This is rumored to change for the iPhone SE 3, even if Apple keeps the phone’s current design. (And from what we’ve heard, it will.) The idea is that the next phone will still find a way to add the necessary sensors to support the feature while still keeping the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that occupies the bottom bezel. That could make the iPhone SE 3 the only current iPhone that you’ll be able to unlock with your skin still on.
6. A new name for the iPhone SE
The 2020 iPhone SE is officially just the iPhone SE – that “2020” part is included there just so as not to be confused with the original model. However, now that a third iPhone SE is in the works, Apple may be motivated to come up with a more distinct name, and not just a “3” after the “iPhone SE” part.
At least one rumor suggests that the new device will debut as the iPhone SE Plus, a potentially confusing name given that Apple generally uses the Plus moniker to differentiate between devices with smaller screens. It’s also possible that Apple could call its new iPhone SE 5G phone as a way to highlight what’s most significant about this particular model.
What we don’t get: a new iPhone SE design
When rumors of an iPhone SE 3 first surfaced, many assumed that Apple would take the opportunity to update the look of the phone from the iPhone 8-inspired design it currently uses. But apparently that’s not happening: the latest rumors suggest that Apple will keep the 2017 look right down to the 4.7-inch display surrounded by sizable bezels at the top and bottom of the screen.
In a sense, you can understand where Apple is coming from. Adopting a notched design, even if it meant a larger screen, would make it difficult to differentiate the iPhone SE 3 from other phones in its lineup, primarily the iPhone 11 or iPhone 13 mini, depending on the size of the screen that the company closed. using. Keeping the design current keeps the iPhone SE separate from the rest of the lineup. The fact that it will also likely keep costs down is another reason to stick with the current form factor.
Still, that doesn’t make the likely look of the iPhone SE feel any less dated. And it would have been nice to usher in a new design with a new phone.