Anticipated iPhone SE 4: What to Expect from the Rumors

Updated on May 8, 2024

The upcoming iPhone SE 4 could be getting some modern upgrades like Face ID, hinting at a promising advancement for Apple’s more affordable handset.

September has become known as iPhone season, where new flagship models like the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro often steal the spotlight. However, let’s not overlook Apple’s budget-friendly option, the iPhone SE, which made a comeback in 2020 and 2022.

Looking ahead, the fate of the iPhone SE is uncertain. Speculation about the release of an iPhone SE 4 has been inconsistent, with some reports suggesting its cancellation, according to renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Apple typically remains tight-lipped about future product releases, leaving us to wonder about the fate of the iPhone SE line. With the discontinuation of the iPhone Mini, the iPhone SE takes on added significance as the more compact and affordable option in Apple’s lineup.

There’s still significant room for Apple to enhance its compact iPhone offering. While my colleague Patrick Holland lauded the 2022 iPhone SE for its affordability and familiar home button, he noted its shortcomings such as the absence of night mode photos and an outdated design. Meanwhile, competitors like Samsung and Google have been elevating their budget-friendly phones, with devices like the Google Pixel 7A and Samsung Galaxy A54 5G boasting features once exclusive to premium models, such as high refresh rates and multiple cameras.

Until Apple officially announces its plans, we can only speculate on what the next budget iPhone might offer. Drawing from insights from the reliable Ming-Chi Kuo, as well as other leaks and Apple’s past product launches, we can anticipate some improvements.

As of the original publication of this story, Apple had not provided any comment on the possibility of a future iPhone SE.

 The Enigmatic Fate of the iPhone SE 4: A Rollercoaster of Predictions

The release date of the iPhone SE 4 remains a puzzle, stirring up the question of its very existence. Ming-Chi Kuo’s predictions have been a whirlwind in recent years. Back in 2019, he hinted at Apple developing an iPhone SE with a full-screen design reminiscent of the iPhone XR, as noted by MacRumors. Despite this, Apple has since launched two iterations of the iPhone SE, both sticking with the traditional iPhone 8-inspired design. This has fueled speculation about whether the model Kuo referenced has been axed or postponed.

Kuo’s projections for the iPhone SE 4 in 2023 have been a mixed bag. Initially, in January, he announced the cancellation of an iPhone SE originally slated for 2024. However, in February, he reversed this, indicating a revival of the project. By April, he shifted gears once more, suggesting that the previously mentioned model might merely be an engineering prototype for an Apple-developed 5G baseband chip. His earlier remarks also hinted at the inclusion of this 5G chip in the iPhone SE 4.

According to a recent report from MacRumors, Apple is indeed in the process of developing a new iPhone SE that is rumored to feature significant upgrades. However, a newer report from the same source suggests that its release may be pushed back until 2025.

The release pattern of the iPhone SE hasn’t followed the same regularity as Apple’s flagship iPhones. The original iPhone SE debuted in March 2016, followed by the second-generation model in April 2020. The latest iteration, the third-generation iPhone SE, was introduced in March 2022. While a 2024 launch would align with Apple’s recent release trends, the uncertainty persists, especially considering the four-year gap between the first two models.

The Next iPhone SE: Potential Upgrades and Design Speculations

There’s speculation that the next iteration of the iPhone SE could sport a larger 6.1-inch screen, similar to Apple’s modern flagship models. Contrary to the current iPhone SE’s 4.7-inch display with prominent top and bottom borders resembling the iPhone 8, this rumored version might adopt a more contemporary design.

However, the exact iPhone model that the new SE will emulate remains uncertain. In addition to Ming-Chi Kuo’s 2019 report, other sources like serial leaker Jon Prosser and analyst Ross Young have suggested a larger screen and a design akin to the iPhone XR. Recent reports from MacRumors in September 2023 and November reinforce this notion, indicating that the iPhone SE 4 could borrow elements from the iPhone 14’s chassis, lending credibility to the idea that the next SE will resemble the iPhone 14 in appearance.

Further fueling anticipation are reportedly leaked case designs, which align with the aesthetics of Apple’s latest devices. These images, initially shared by serial leaker Majin Bu on X and later circulated on platforms like Weibo and tech blogs including MacRumors, TechRadar, and NotebookCheck, hint at a refreshed look for the iPhone SE.

Additionally, Ming-Chi Kuo’s February 2023 post hinted at the possibility of the iPhone SE 4 featuring an OLED screen, a significant upgrade from the traditional LCD. MacRumors also supports this claim, suggesting that the next iPhone SE will indeed boast an OLED display. OLED technology promises deeper blacks and enhanced contrast, previously reserved for Apple’s Pro series.

However, Kuo’s subsequent update in April tempered expectations, suggesting that the device he previously believed to be a future iPhone SE might only be an engineering prototype. Despite the uncertainties, anticipation continues to grow as enthusiasts eagerly await further details about the next iPhone SE and its potential advancements.

 Anticipating the Next iPhone SE: Potential Battery Upgrades

According to reports from MacRumors, the upcoming iPhone SE might inherit the battery of the iPhone 14. If previous speculations from the blog about the iPhone SE 4 following the footsteps of the iPhone 14 hold true, a larger battery would be necessary to support its anticipated larger screen.

While Apple typically doesn’t disclose battery capacities for its phones, it has stated that the iPhone 14 is expected to provide five additional hours of video playback compared to the third-generation iPhone SE. With the combination of a new chip and a potentially larger battery expected in the next iPhone SE, it suggests that Apple’s forthcoming budget-friendly offering could see significant improvements in battery life.

The Next iPhone SE: Shifting Away from Touch ID to Embrace Face ID

According to MacRumors, the upcoming iPhone SE is set to feature Face ID instead of Apple’s traditional Touch ID fingerprint sensor. This contradicts Ming-Chi Kuo’s 2019 report, which suggested that the next iPhone SE would adopt a smaller notch area without Face ID, incorporating Touch ID into the power button—a design reminiscent of Apple’s approach with its recent iPads.

It appears that Apple is moving towards uniformity across its product lineup by integrating Face ID into the new iPhone SE, aligning it with other modern iPhones. This decision marks a departure from the beloved Touch ID sensor, signaling a significant shift for fans accustomed to the fingerprint recognition technology.

Potential Features and Similarities in the Next iPhone SE: USB-C, Action Button, and Camera Upgrade

Apple’s upcoming budget-friendly iPhone might draw some inspiration from the iPhone 15. With Apple’s shift to USB-C for the iPhone 15 series to meet new European regulations, it’s plausible that the iPhone SE 4 could also adopt this connector, according to MacRumors.

Additionally, MacRumors suggests that the iPhone SE 4 might introduce the Action button, a feature currently exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, which allows for programming shortcuts. This inclusion would be notable, considering the Action button is a key differentiator between Apple’s premium and entry-level iPhone models, although Bloomberg indicates that this feature may extend to standard iPhones this year as well.

Another anticipated upgrade reported by MacRumors is a 48-megapixel single camera for the next iPhone SE, mirroring a feature found in the iPhone 15. If accurate, this would mark a significant enhancement for the iPhone SE’s photography capabilities. Unlike Apple’s pricier models, which boast multiple rear cameras, the iPhone SE would likely retain a single rear camera. While the regular iPhone 15 includes wide and ultra-wide cameras, the Pro versions offer wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses.

Anticipating the Next iPhone SE: Chip Innovations and Potential Surprises

Traditionally, the iPhone SE has boasted the same processor as Apple’s latest flagship iPhone, serving as its standout feature. For instance, the 2022 iPhone SE shares the same chip as the iPhone 13, released in September 2021. Given this historical pattern, it’s unlikely that Apple will deviate from this trend in future iterations.

Ming-Chi Kuo initially suggested that the next iPhone SE might feature an Apple-made 5G chip. However, he later revised his estimation, indicating that this device could be an engineering prototype to test the 5G chip. Nonetheless, MacRumors reports that the iPhone SE 4 will indeed incorporate an Apple-made 5G modem.

Following its acquisition of Intel’s modem business in 2019, speculation arose that Apple might transition to building its own 5G modems instead of relying on Qualcomm as a supplier. This move would grant Apple greater control over launch timelines and product features, aligning with its strategy across major product lines. Although Apple hasn’t confirmed its plans, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon stated in March that he anticipates Apple to start using in-house modems by 2024.

The potential introduction of an Apple-made 5G modem in the fourth-generation iPhone SE could make it one of the most intriguing iPhone updates in recent years. With leaks, rumors, and reports hinting at significant advancements in design, functionality, and screen size, the future of Apple’s budget-friendly iPhone remains ripe with anticipation, whether it arrives this year or in 2025.


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