Apple is rumored to be holding an event in March, which would be its spring event. This wouldn't be too far off, as Apple has several events each year, including the spring season. While this time of year isn't usually when Apple announces brand new iPhones, we may be seeing an updated iPhone SE 3 this time around.
The iPhone SE (2020) has been a popular budget iPhone. It was the first update for the SE line since 2016, and it brought an upgraded body from the original, as it was basically an iPhone 8 exterior. So instead of the tiny 4-inch screen, we were upgraded to a 4.7-inch display, with A13 Bionic and a 12MP wide-angle camera.
But the time has come yet again for the iPhone SE to get a refresh and it appears to be just around the corner at this point. Here's what I'm hoping to see in an iPhone SE 3.
An iPhone SE with 5G connectivity
I think this one is a given, but nothing has been confirmed yet, just rumors. However, it just makes sense. The rest of the current iPhone lineup has 5G capabilities, so it would only be right for this feature to arrive with an updated iPhone SE too.
With 5G, the iPhone SE would be able to download iOS updates over cellular, and users would be able to browse, work, and play at faster speeds than ever before. Plus, a lot of affordable Android devices also have 5G connectivity, so Apple would need the iPhone SE to be 5G capable as well in order to remain competitive.
A new design for the iPhone SE
This is less likely, but I honestly would prefer to see the new iPhone SE have a different body. Right now, the iPhone SE (2020) is just recycling the old iPhone 8 chassis and is still the only iPhone that Apple sells with a Home button. For some people out there, that is the primary reason to consider an iPhone SE — they would rather stick with Touch ID instead of Face ID.
But honestly, I would like to see the iPhone SE switch over to a design that is like the iPhone 13 mini. Even though the mini devices are physically smaller than the iPhone 8 body that the SE current has, they still have a larger display at 5.4-inches, rather than 4.7-inches. I believe everyone could benefit from a larger display and the mini-sized iPhones do just that while retaining one-handed use.
I know, I know — people still want to use Touch ID over Face ID. But I think if Apple changed the SE design to replicate the mini devices, they could do something like what they did with the iPad Air 4 and iPad mini 6 and move Touch ID into the side or power button. This way, iPhone SE users would get a larger display without losing Touch ID. Of course, they would have to learn all of the navigation gestures, but that's something that one can get accustomed to over time. After all, will Apple continue to have a Home button 10 years from now?
iPhone SE camera advancements
Though the iPhone SE got some decent camera upgrades in 2020, it would fall behind a lot if there were no improvements this year. I am not expecting a triple or even dual-lens camera system (otherwise there would be no major reason to get the current flagships), but there are some things I hope are coming.
For one, I would like to see Deep Fusion and Night mode become available with the new iPhone SE. After all, while the iPhone 8 did not originally have Portrait mode, the iPhone SE (2020) ended up getting the feature, so it's definitely more of a software thing instead of hardware.
Deep Fusion debuted with the iPhone 11 and is a computational photography process that required at least an A13 Bionic, which the second-generation SE had, but oddly enough, did not have the feature. Hopefully, it will be included with the third-generation iPhone SE, as it would give photos an even higher level of finer detail for things like skin, clothing, and foliage.
Night mode also launched with the iPhone 11 lineup and is another computational photography process. Again, this would be something I want to see in the iPhone SE 3 because it's been fantastic on the flagship devices and a feature that should just be on all iPhones at this point.
Upgraded internals in the iPhone SE
With the iPhone 13 lineup currently having A15 Bionic, it would only make sense for the iPhone SE to get bumped up to the A14 Bionic that came with the iPhone 12. This would mean a slight speed bump over the previous iteration of the iPhone SE, and the 16-core Neural Engine over the previous 8-core would mean better machine learning. The average consumer won't necessarily notice or even care, but it would be nice to see the improvement on the spec sheet.
Let's bring Apple's budget iPhone up to speed
The iPhone SE is a cult classic and it's due for an update to modernize it to be on par with today's standards. While I won't be downgrading from an iPhone 13 Pro to an iPhone SE 3, I'm still excited to see what Apple has in store for us next month and I'm sure iPhone SE fans would agree. It's time to get excited for a refresher on Apple's best budget iPhone.
Get the best of iMore in in your inbox, every day!
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.
Some good suggestions, Christine. If Apple adopted a power button fingerprint sensor then there would be no need for the notch. They may well be able to go with a corner punchhole front camera in this case but I have a feeling this may end up being what the 'normal' iPhone 14 will look like. Apple seem to have added FaceID as a luxury on their Pro iPads and there is no reason to think they won't do it on the iPhone as well. If they did redesign the SE they could potentially shrink the home button to increase the screen size without increasing the chassis dimensions. This would mean a new glass panel but the same aluminium keeping overheads down. What the SE really needs is a bigger battery so a slight change in the front might mean a 2000mah cell making its way in.
Those are some good ideas! Hope Apple does come out with something along those lines. But we won't find out until later. Thanks for reading!
Apple will Never go for any new design changes, because Apple continues to buy back (users trade in) their older iPhones. As we already know Apple pays peanuts for the older iPhones, but Apple still recycles or uses some of the older components/parts, like the 4.7" low resoltion LCD displays, cameras, cases, and any other internal components, or parts, then turn them into the next iPhone SE model. Sell it as new again. Apple loves their lipstick on a pig refurbishment program. Apple could have sold the current starting iPhone SE models for $200 and still made a profit. But don't forget that with Apple it is all about making money. Apple purposely goes out of their way to put software restrictions on older models, because every iPhone model today needs to have some planned obsolecence built into each device. Don't forget Apple is a company that went out of their way to limit batteries, and even restricted processor speeds. Apple has even gone out of their way to limit repairs, and who can repair iPhones. For crying out loud Apple has made it so that users can't even use any of the same components, or parts from a similar iPhone model. Apple always prefers its users to buy the newer, and the more pricy hardware. But at the same time doesn't want to lose any of its older customers. But over time Apple wants everyone to move away from older things, and Apple is the company that does push its customers into different directions. Apple pushes their software into certain directions as well. At the end of the day, Apple wants to maximize their profits, otherwise Apple would be releasing a new iPhone SE every year, but Apple doesn't want that because more iPhone users would be using more iPhone SE models, instead of the higher priced iPhone models.
Thank you for signing up to iMore. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.