Wild rumor suggests iPhone 16 could merge with SE lineup — here's why that smells fishy

iPhone 16 Pro render
(Image credit: @Concept_Central)

An absolutely wild iPhone 16 rumor circulating on X claims that Apple might merge the iPhone 16 and iPhone SE lineups, releasing five devices later this year. 

Up until now, there was no indication that Apple would diverge from its normal iPhone release lineup, as usual featuring two low-end models and two high-end pro models. The iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus were expected to be muted upgrades with broadly the same shape and design as the current iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. Meanwhile, the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max were expected to be slightly larger devices, measuring 6.3 and 6.9 inches respectively. The only potential outlier previously was the mythical iPhone 16 UItra, which reports say could either be an even more potent fifth option, the new name for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, or just a passing fantasy. 

Now, however, leaker Majin Bu reports “I recently came into possession of a table that appears to illustrate that the iPhone 16 lineup will merge with the SE lineup,” shifting the lineup to now feature two budget SE models and three more powerful iPhones. The source of the information, however, should be taken with a pinch of salt, with the tipster confessing “ I have no information on the source.” So what does it indicate, and can we trust it?

iPhone 16 lineup carnage 

To begin with the latter part of the question, the simplest and most likely answer is no, we probably shouldn’t take this information as accurate. Bu themself notes that “it’s possible” that this might actually be the lineup for the next year’s iPhone 17. 

As to the leak itself, Bu says “it seems that Apple is working on an iPhone 16 SE, a 16 Plus SE which could be positioned in the lower end of the market,” and three other devices. The current 2022 iPhone SE is the best iPhone for users on a budget, but it’s seriously lagging behind the rest of the lineup — after all, the design is now over six years old and still features a Home Button with Touch ID. According to the post, “the devices seem to have the dynamic island and only one camera,” plus a 60Hz display and a “reduced battery.”

To compensate for this low-end introduction, the report claims the iPhone 16 will be “much more inviting”, featuring a 120Hz screen, two cameras, and an improved battery. Apple’s iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max would also retain the 120Hz display and likely its other “Pro” only features. 

Again, Bu is the first to admit they are “quite skeptical about what I have reported,” and this would indeed be a radical overhaul of the iPhone lineup. “Reference information” shared by Bu for which they do not have the source also indicates that the iPhone SE lineup might have the same starting price as the iPhone 16, $699. Given the SE moniker denotes a budget device, this price makes no sense whatsoever. Especially considering the rest of the information given suggests the iPhone 16 Pro line won’t go up in price. 

You might also note that the mockups featured in the piece are a bit suspect, but Bu says these aren’t serious and are “just for demonstration purposes.” 

Given the author’s own skepticism and the seemingly confused and suspicious nature of the leak, it’s probably safe to file this one in the “pipe dream” category. However, there is one nugget of information that we can actually glean from this leak that might be a more reasonable prospect. Bu says “I would like to underline that there is actually an iPhone model being tested with a dynamic island, a style similar to the iPhone XR, and colors similar to the iPhone 15.” 

Bu says they have previously thought this was the new iPhone SE, but now has some doubts about it. Certainly, this description matches some previous leaks about Apple working on an iPhone SE based on the iPhone XR. While Bu notes their own uncertainty, I can’t think of any alternative this device might represent, save an internal prototype that will never see the light of day. More recently we’ve heard the iPhone SE could come with an Action Button, USB-C port, and the OLED panel from the iPhone 14, complete with Face ID.

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9