iPhone SE 2 (2018) preview

Apple announced its small-screen iPhone SE back in March 2016, so it's overdue for an update. In this article we look ahead to the launch of the iPhone SE 2: rather less anticipated than the flagship models at the top end, but still an important event for the smaller-handed members of Apple's fan base.

Name

For clarity we're referring to the handset as the iPhone SE 2 throughout this article, but it's possible that Apple will call it something else entirely.

After the launch of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, our suspicion is that Apple is going to move away from version numbers for its smartphones (otherwise what does it call the next one: iPhone 9, or iPhone 11?). So it might just be the iPhone SE (2018) - or the iPhone X mini, if it follows a similar but shrunk-down design to that device.

iPhone SE 2 review: Design

Design

Talking of the iPhone X, the most intriguing possibility design-wise is that the SE 2 will get a bigger screen and lose its Home button, just like the X.

Some concept illustrations - which is to say, unofficial illustrations created speculatively by artists unconnected with Apple - have already appeared showing what the SE might look like with an iPhone X-like redesign.

Here's a idea of what we could expect by Concept Creator.

However, we think it's more likely that Apple will keep things simple, and offer a broadly similar design to the original SE - with the possible addition of a glass back and wireless charging, as on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus as well as the X. The SE may also lose its headphone jack, as has become iPhone-standard.

Having the luxury X-esque design on a smaller and cheaper handset would surely cannibalise sales of the 8 generation; we can only imagine that Apple will roll out this design to its smallest and cheapest handsets once the rest of the lineup has been upgraded, which we expect to happen in autumn 2018.

Specs

At this early stage we can only speculate about tech specs, although we're starting to get a decent idea of what to expect.

Reports suggest that we'll be looking at an A10 processor (a slightly older chip - this was first seen in the iPhone 7 - but still an improvement on the original SE's A9), 2GB of RAM, a 12Mp rear-facing camera, a 5Mp FaceTime camera and either 32GB or 128GB of storage.

The battery capacity is expected to increase slightly, from 1,640mAh to 1,700mAh, but this may be offset by the inclusion of a larger and therefore more power-hungry screen, measuring 4.2in rather than the current 4in.

This will apparently be made possible by reducing the size of the bezels, but this change isn't expected to be as radical as seen on the iPhone X. The Home Button is expected to remain on the iPhone SE 2.

iPhone SE 2 review: Specs

Price

The current iPhone SE costs the following in the UK:

  • iPhone SE (32GB): £349
  • iPhone SE (128GB): £449

(You can buy it here.)

We'd expect the SE 2 to be pitched at or close to the same price point (perhaps a touch higher, since the SE has dropped slightly in price since launch). The only way Apple could justify a significant price rise would be if it radically redesigns the handset - in other words, if the SE 2 turns out to be a sort of iPhone X mini, with a larger screen and a wide range of new features.

Release date

No official release date has been announced for the iPhone SE 2. We think, however, that it's likely to make an appearance at Apple's usual spring press event, probably in March 2018.

A FocusTaiwan report suggests that the new iPhone SE will launch in the first quarter of 2018. Sources claim this new iPhone will be manufactured in India.

Economic Daily, however, reports that Apple is working on two iPhone X successors for 2018, including a low-end model, and that this low-end model won't launch until the second half of 2018.

OUR VERDICT

The big-screen iPhones get all the attention, but there remains a solid core of Apple fans who prefer something a little smaller. The small-handed among us have been neglected for 20 months, so the launch of the iPhone SE 2 will be an important event - and the rumoured changes to the design, including a slightly larger screen and the inclusion of wireless charging, are appealing. We'll update this article when we have some official announcements to report, but we're already looking forward to the next version of the iPhone SE.

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