Apple has hosted two special events in the past couple of months, and neither the 12 September nor 30 October product launches brought with them an iPhone SE 2. With the original model discontinued in September, leaving the iPhone 7 as the most affordable model in the line-up, a follow-up is starting to look like no more than wishful thinking.
It's certainly possible that Apple sees the iPhone XR as the replacement for the iPhone SE. With a more affordable price of £749/US$749 it's closer to the SE in price, but its 6.1in LCD screen means it's 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 rang true; he suggested that along with updates to the iPhone X and a bigger version with an OLED screen, Apple would launch a cheaper iPhone this September - except it would be a 6.1in model with an LCD screen and that it would be priced much higher than the iPhone SE is currently. Perhaps the iPhone XR isn't the smaller handset many hoped for, but still a potential successor to the SE.
We analyse all the rumours below and also in this article: iPhone 2018 rumours.
Will there be a new smaller iPhone?
There was no mention of the SE 2 at the Apple Special Event on 12 September, nor in the 30 October event. However, the iPhone XR does features a similar LCD display.
If this LCD handset 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 X 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 X 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.
Making his predictions about such an iPhone, early in 2018, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo pointed to a possible September release date for a cheaper version of the iPhone X, alongside the successor to the iPhone X. The Apple Special Event has confirmed this with the unveiling of the iPhone XR and the more expensive iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. You can see a recording of the Special Event live stream here.
However, what isn't clear is whether this new phone will in fact replace the iPhone SE, or if an iPhone SE 2 will launch at a later date.
It's possible that an iPhone SE 2 could arrive in Spring 2019, which would be three years after that handset first launched.
It is possible that the iPhone SE will no longer be sold after Apple updates its range of iPhones in the autumn, although you may be able to pick up the 4in handset from one of the phone networks.
Will the iPhone SE be discontinued?
Several analysts have suggested that there won't be a new iPhone SE at all.
In January 2018 Ming-Chi Kuo wrote a research note arguing that Apple had "used up its development resources" and would not be able to produce a new SE for the spring 2018 launch window.
That comment was specifically relating the the likelihood of Apple updating the SE in the spring of 2018, rather than ruling an update out for later in the year, but Kuo went on to note that working on three new iPhones which would launch later in the year would keep Apple busy.
"We believe the delay of iPhone X, which had the most complicated design yet, shows that Apple doesn't have enough resources available for development. With three new models in the pipeline for the second half of 2018, we believe Apple may have used up its development resources."
In addition, back in July 2017 China's Huaquang Research analyst Pan Juitang predicted that Apple wouldn't update its 4in phone, arguing that there isn't enough demand for smaller devices as many consumers opt for larger displays for watching movies, playing games and browsing the web. The vast majority are accustomed to 5in or bigger displays, he added.
iPhone SE 2: Price
It would be reasonable to expect the iPhone SE 2 to be similarly priced when (and if) it launches.
However, if the true successor to the iPhone SE will be the 6.1in LCD-screen equipped, iPhone X-style phone, this is rumoured to start at $700/£700, which is certainly not in the same league as the iPhone SE, or even what anyone would consider a budget price.
Even if the SE is updated, it may not launch where you live. Some reports suggest that the new SE handset might 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
Despite all the rumours about the LCD X-style iPhone, there have been some reports suggesting that there might be an iPhone SE style phone in the pipeline.
The idea that Apple would redesign the iPhone SE doesn't get a lot of support from analysts, who, like Ming-Chi Kuo, believe that Apple is too busy with the successors to the iPhones X and 8 to dedicate time and resources to this entry-level handset.
A Chinese report from February 2018 says the 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 the Macotakara report cited earlier, 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 is currently 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 have kind of merged in the iPhone 8 and it is likely that the new iPhone SE will also offer this new brassier gold colour option rather than two gold options.
There's been a suggestion that we could see a new iPhone in iPhone 5C-style colours - although this rumour is more specifically about the LCD handset.
Rosenblatt analyst Jun Zhang predicted in May 2018 that the cheaper LCD iPhone model released in late 2018 would launch in multiple colours, including blue, yellow and pink.
Zhang argues that these colours have been chosen to appeal to younger users and to differentiate between the LCD iPhone and the more expensive OLED models that will launch at the same time.
"We believe the company needs to differentiate the designs of the LCD model from the two high end OLED models," said Zhang. "One reasonable choice would be to add different colours."
Then in July, analyst Ming Chi Kuo also started making colour predictions in relation to the LCD iPhone. He claimed that the new entry-level 6.1-inch LCD iPhone will debut in "grey, white, blue, red and orange".
Currently the iPhone SE has 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.
It's also possible that the new iPhone SE - or entry-level iPhone - won't be a smaller handset at all. According to Apple-focused analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is working on a low-cost version of the iPhone X that will feature an LCD-TFT screen, fewer pixels, and will cost between $649 and $749. This iPhone screen will measure 6.1in diagonally so the new handset could be even larger than the iPhone 8 is.
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.
As per KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's theory, Apple could introduce a 6.1in LCD-TFT screen on its new low-cost iPhone, while the other iPhones will feature OLED screens like the iPhone X does now. As shown below.
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.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo the 'iPhone X SE' (the LCD version of the bigger iPhone coming in the autumn) will indeed get Face ID, the same controversial but impressive biometric tech as on the iPhone X, which also means Animoji and, we presume, Portrait Mode on front-facing selfies. (Oddly enough, since the analyst predicts a single camera lens on the rear of the X SE to keep costs down, we could end up in the situation where Portrait Mode is available on front- but not rear-facing shots.)
However, if Apple is going to launch an update to the existing SE model then the Touch ID Home button is likely to remain.
Since 2014, iPhones have been equipped with NFC chips, but these have historically been less functional than those in rival devices, essentially limited to Apple Pay for security reasons. But it's believed that WWDC 2018 will see Apple 'unlock' the capacities of these chips and allow iPhones to perform commonplace NFC tasks such as interacting with badge readers (to identify a user, open security doors and so on).
According to The Information, citing sources familiar with the matter, the move is so far along that Apple's own staff are already using it internally.
"The change to the near-field communication, or NFC, chip, which is expected to be announced [in June 2018], could pave the way for people to use iPhones for other security-sensitive interactions, from paying transit fares and opening car doors to verifying their identity in other ways," the site writes.
The new iPhone SE 2 (or iPhone X SE) 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".
Apple's 3D Touch screen tech has been around for a while, and it feels logical to add it to the SE. But sources say this will not be the case: Ming-Chi Kuo has given it the thumbs down. As Tech Times observes, this runs the risk of the feature being seen "as nothing more than a gimmick that only customers who purchase the more expensive iPhones may enjoy.
Rumours are indicating 3D Touch's days are numbered anyway, with reports suggesting that the LED iPhone won't feature 3D Touch and that Apple will eventually remove it from all new handsets in 2019, the effect being slimmer iPhones.