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.
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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.