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It has been over three years since the launch of the iPhone SE, an entry-level and low-cost alternative to the main flagship iPhone releases, and rumors have suggested for a very long time that Apple is planning to update the smartphone in various ways. 

The iPhone SE was built to be a budget phone with an older designThe iPhone SE was built to be a budget phone with an older design

There have been few leaks confirming the existence and production of the purported "iPhone SE 2," making it hard to determine whether it is going to be made and sold, and if so, what it could look like. 

A posting on the Apple Store has confirmed that the next budget iPhone will be called "iPhone SE" and have the same form factor as the iPhone 8.  The information below remains for consistency with the rumor timeline.

Will it be called "iPhone SE 2?"

As with other hardware produced by the company, it is difficult to pin down what Apple will call the second-generation release of a product line, leaving it wide open to speculation. 

For its flagship iPhones, Apple has mostly kept to the pattern of a “number” release for a major revision (iPhone 6, iPhone 7,) followed by an “S” refresh the following year. While this does not apply for the 2017 releases of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, instead of a possible “iPhone 7s,” this alternating pattern made the naming of the next iPhone generation relatively predictable, to a point. 

In the case of the iPhone SE, Apple has a wealth of options, such as by adding a number after it to make it the “iPhone SE 2,” or it could add a letter to it like the main iPhone lines, such as “iPhone SE S.” There is also the possibility of changing the SE element to something else entirely, though that will also change the “Special Edition” meaning for the name of the device. 

Lastly, Apple could consider keeping the name the same with no changes, especially if it is regarded as an updated model rather than an entirely new phone. This would make discussing the versions of the iPhone SE slightly more confusing, causing users to refer to them unofficially by the generation or year of their release. 

One supply chain report from December 2019 offered the claim it will be called the “iPhone 9,” under the argument it was a continuation of the naming convention used from the iPhone 6 to iPhone 8. Even so, since the iPhone SE's name defies the number-based naming and S versions of other iPhones released around that time, it still leaves the name wide open to interpretation. 

For the purposes of this article, until there is firm evidence of a name for it or Apple officially confirms a title, it will be referred to as the “iPhone SE 2.” 

It is unlikely the “iPhone SE 2 will use the iPhone 5S chassis againIt is unlikely the “iPhone SE 2 will use the iPhone 5S chassis again

When will "iPhone SE 2" launch?

Early rumors from summer 2017 claimed Apple intended for a second-generation iPhone SE launch in the first quarter of 2018, though that period passed. A later report the same year put it in the first half of 2018, while another from January 2018 pushed for a May or June 2018 release, later seemingly validated by supply chain reports and doubted by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, but again it failed to materialize. 

The original's launch in March, half a year away from the main fall launches, certainly offers the idea a second-generation model could appear in a similar period. This concept is still entertained in subsequent rumors. 

In March 2018, reports claimed the model would be made in India, but a launch of the model was held up "due to government policies and some other restrictions." Model numbers surfaced one month later in April, seemingly hinting at the possibility of a launch, but again for naught. 

May 2018 rumors speculated a September debut, which did not occur. Similar hopes of a September launch alongside the iPhone 11 range were also dashed. 

Following the Fall 2019 launches, rumors pointed towards a launch in early 2020 as the rumor mill starts itself up once more. Only time will tell if this prediction comes true. 

A case for an "2020 4.7-inch iPhone" with the same sizes as the iPhone 8 have shown up in stores, suggesting a release within the first weeks of April 2020. The case was embargoed for April 5, but may be a case maker trying to make bets on unannounced Apple products.

Information leaked from a supposed internal meeting held on March 30 indicates an April 15 announcement. If true, the budget iPhone could release before the end of April, with April 22 being the current expected date. It is unclear, however, if the coronavirus outbreak will prevent its launch.

According to a tipster, the 2020 iPhone SE will be sold in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB configurations with color options including white, black and PRODUCT(RED). Five cases — black silicone, white silicone, red leather, black leather and Midnight Blue leather — should launch with the device, the report said.

Core Specification Changes

Generally, it is accepted that Apple will make changes to the insides of the iPhone SE for the second edition. 

For reference, the original iPhone SE uses a 64-bit A9 CPU with M9 motion coprocessor, a 12-megapixel iSight camera with a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera, a 4-inch Retina display with a 1,136-by-640-pixel resolution, and a 14-hour battery life, among other features. 

Early rumors pointed to the use of the iPhone 7's A10 processor and 2GB of RAM, with an upgraded 5-megapixel front camera. The display would measure between 4 inches and 4.2 inches in size. 

Initial suggestions from Ming-Chi Kuo from January 2018 posited changes would be minor for the model, as it wouldn't require fancy features such as a 3D-sensing camera or wireless charging, technologies that weren't utilized at the time outside of the iPhone X. Such upgrades were deemed unlikely as they would undercut the features of Apple's premium models, but now the same additions would match the rest of the models in the range. 

In the latest rounds of speculation, Kuo has changed tune, musing in October 2019 the model will have the same 4.7-inch display as used in the iPhone 8, but paired with an A13 processor, the same as used in the iPhone 11 range. The model would also be given an application memory upgrade to 3 gigabytes. 

An unusual change internally is the use of an updated antenna design that uses Liquid Crystal Polymer, an alteration that could help improve the gain of the radios by up to 5.1 decibels, making its reception of cellular networks more robust. 

External Appearance

The iPhone SE uses the iPhone 5s as inspiration for the external design, including a metal backing, display, and Touch ID. Considering its usual pricing as a low-cost option, Apple is likely to continue reusing the design language of its other iPhones for the new model, albeit the exact way it does so is anyone's guess at this point. 

In January 2018 one report claimed the "iPhone SE 2" will revive the glass backing from the iPhone 4 series, enabling it to add wireless charging as a feature, something other reports agreed with. It was also proposed the model could borrow the design language of the iPhone X, rather than reusing the design of an earlier generation. 

Some rumors at the time even suggested the "iPhone SE 2" could use an edge-to-edge display that brings it in line with the design aesthetic of the latest models. 

For September 2019, rumors pointed to Apple sticking to the familiar design of older-generation iPhones, specifically that of the iPhone 8. 

In November 2019, Ming-Chi Kuo proclaimed the physical design of the "iPhone SE 2" could be the size of the iPhone 8, lending some weight to the claim. 

In March 2020, iOS 14 code leaks suggest that there will be two variants of the new budget device. The regular 4.7-inch and a "plus" version at around 5.5 inches.

This Target inventory system suggests there will be an “iPhone 9”This Target inventory system suggests there will be an “iPhone 9”

An inventory system at Target shows that third-party accessory manufacturer, Zagg, is going to sell a screen protector for an "iPhone 6/7/8/9" suggesting that they will all share the same design. This is once again in line with other rumors.

Face ID or Touch ID?

One key factor in the design of the "iPhone SE 2" is whether it will stick to the older Touch ID or will migrate over to Face ID. Using the former would make the front appear more like an older iPhone model, while the latter would make it appear like the modern version, as well as allowing the use of a larger display without sacrificing its physical footprint. 

In April 2018, it was claimed Apple will stick to using Touch ID, according to a report that used case producers as sources. 

For May 2018, Apple was reportedly evaluating "several" models, with one iteration being close to the SE's design with Touch ID.

At the same time, an accessory producer created a render based on schematics allegedly from the supply chain, one sporting the TrueDepth camera array and therefore Face ID. This prompted one screen protector maker to try and produce a prototype for the supposed device. 

For October 2019, Ming-Chi Kuo predicted it would have the same "form factor design and hardware spec" as the iPhone 8, which would point to Touch ID's usage. Kuo reasoned users on a budget would not be swayed by features like multiple cameras and Face ID, enabling the use of the older and potentially cheaper designs. 

In December of the same year, Kuo made proposals on the design of the "iPhone SE2 Plus" for the first half of 2021, which would feature a full-screen design, but would have a small notch due to not including Face ID support. Instead, Kuo suggested the device would incorporate Touch ID in the power button. 

Leaks of iOS 14 code in March show there may be a Touch ID button, which is the clearest confirmation we have yet of which biometric the device will use.

Further leaks show a Touch ID device with background NFC capabilities will support CarKey. As no such device exists, it can be assumed this is the yet unannounced budget iPhone.

The “iPhone SE 2“ may have CarKey supportThe “iPhone SE 2“ may have CarKey support

As the prediction pertains to the next device after the "iPhone SE 2," it is uncertain as to how much it would inform the design of the supposedly more-imminent release. 

 

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