Apple’s annual flagship iPhone launch keeps the rumor mill churning all year round, with the latest iPhone 13 lineup making waves due to a list of small but favorable tweaks. But what about Apple’s other iPhone? The low-budget iPhone SE may not get a yearly update, but that’s what makes the rumored 2022 model all the more exciting.
The iPhone SE excels at being the Cupertino tech giant’s powerful, yet affordable smartphone option, even more so than the last-of-its-kind iPhone 13 mini. With a low price, the same A13 Bionic that powers the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and a nostalgic form factor that features the sorely-missed Touch ID, the latest iPhone SE (2020) is Apple’s secret weapon.
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The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 have now set the stage for the iPhone SE 2022, hinting at a processor upgrade, 5G connectivity, and other modern features found on Apple’s latest flagship phones. However, rumors indicate we may see a new kind of iPhone SE next year, and there may be not one, but two SE models in development.
We’ve scoured the internet high and low to find out all the latest rumors and leaks about the upcoming iPhone SE 2022, including potential release dates, price, features and more. Read on for everything you need to know and find out why the iPhone SE (2020) is still one of the best iPhones.
iPhone SE 2022 release date
Multiple analysts and leakers agree the next iPhone SE will launch in the first half of 2022. However, it isn’t clear which iPhone SE model we can expect. Display analyst Ross Young claimed earlier in 2021 that the next SE model (a.k.a iPhone SE 3) will come in 2022, featuring the same 4.7-inch display found in the current model and iPhone 8.
Recently, market research intelligence provider TrendForce stated that Apple is planning to release its next iPhone SE model in the first quarter of 2022, which is in line with other analysts' predictions. TrendForce claims that the third-gen iPhone SE will be a "major instrument in helping Apple establish a presence in the market segment for mid-range 5G smartphones," with a production volume forecasted to reach up to 30 million units. With this in mind, MacRumors points out that the new iPhone SE is expected to be released by the end of March.
We now hear the next LCD iPhone will be introduced in 2022 and called the SE Plus with the same 4.7" LCD as the 8 along with 5G. We hear the iPhone SE3 with a 5.7" - 6.1" LCD is now pushed to 2024. https://t.co/9gxiAAk8YiOctober 25, 2021
However, Young recently stated the iPhone SE 3 has been pushed back to 2024, but fans can expect an iPhone SE Plus in 2022 instead. The SE Plus will feature the same 4.7-inch display, while the delayed SE 3 may feature up to a 6.1-inch display; akin to the iPhone XR.
Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo makes the same claims about the SE Plus’ design and release date, while insider sources speaking to news outlet DigiTimes also say Apple's next iPhone SE will arrive as early as the first half of 2022. The iPhone SE (2020) was released in April 2020, and Apple smartphone launches are usually predictable. Plus, we had an Apple April event in 2021 that saw the release of the M1 iPad Pro. That’s a good indication the iPhone SE 2022 will release in Spring 2022; possibly sometime in April.
iPhone SE 2022 price
With the number of high-end features Apple is expected to cram into the iPhone SE 2022, we may see a bump in price compared to the 2020 SE model. Currently, the iPhone SE is priced from $399/£389, making it the cheapest iPhone on Apple’s website. With the inclusion of 5G connectivity and a possible A15 Bionic, we could see this price rise past the $400 mark.
That said, the iPhone 11 is still available to purchase for $499/£489. It’s unlikely Apple would increase the price of the SE model to match a previous flagship smartphone with a better screen and cameras, but it could still reach somewhere below $450. Still, Apple has a habit of offering better specs on its flagship smartphones while retaining the same price tag, so we hope the $399 price doesn’t budge. According to a leak on Weibo, the iPhone SE is expected to be the same price as the previous model.
It’s interesting to note that Google’s Pixel 5a, a brilliant low-cost 5G smartphone option, is priced at $449. The previous Pixel 4a 5G is $499. If Apple finds a way to make a 5G-capable iPhone SE 2022 below $400, it will be a no-brainer for anyone looking for a 5G smartphone.
iPhone SE 2022 design
Design rumors for the iPhone SE 2022 are scattered, but more recent rumors suggest fans of the iPhone 8 form factor will be happy with the upcoming SE model.
Young claims the iPhone 8's chassis will continue to live on through the iPhone SE Plus, corroborating Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's reports that the next iPhone SE device will maintain the same body and 4.7-inch display as its predecessor. This means we can expect the same thick bezels, display, Touch ID home button and small form factor. Both analysts believe the biggest changes will take place internally.
Apple has gone big in color options in recent years, from the purple iPhone 12 to the array of colorful iMac options. The current iPhone SE only comes in black, white and signature (PRODUCT) Red. There haven’t been any rumors or leaks to suggest which color options we’ll see next time around, but we expect there to be a green, blue or purple thrown in, too.
While the iPhone SE Plus isn’t expected to change, the other iPhone SE model rumored to be in the works may offer a different yet familiar design. Young claims the iPhone SE 3 will have 6.1-inch design, with other leaks suggesting it will be equivalent to an “iPhone XR 5G.” Chinese platform MyDrivers and a post on Weibo also claim the iPhone SE will be similar to the iPhone XR, which means the home button with Touch ID is getting the chop. However, these two sources believe this is the design we’ll see in the iPhone SE 2022, not the iPhone SE 3 rumored to be delayed to 2024.
Whatever the case, we expect the iPhone SE 2022 to feature a design we’ve seen in previous iPhone models, with the iPhone 8 chassis looking more likely.
iPhone SE 2022 features
While there are only two new features we expect to see in the iPhone SE 2022, they could be a game-changer in the budget smartphone market. Over the past few months of SE model rumors and leaks, two recurring themes include an upgraded processor and 5G.
According to insider sources speaking to DigiTimes, the iPhone SE 2022 will feature 5G connectivity and an A14 Bionic, which can be found on the still impressive iPhone 12. Reliable Kuo made the same claims earlier this year (via MacRumors).
Apparently, however, Apple may not settle with a now-outdated chip, as other reports claim the new SE model will come with the recent A15 Bionic chip found in the iPhone 13. As you’ll find in our iPhone 13 review: if the A14 is “godlike,” the A15 inside the iPhone 13 is a goshdarn demon with its six-core CPU, four-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine (excellent for machine-learning, AI and computational photography).
Currently, these are the biggest upgrades to expect, along with the next iOS update. While the iPhone SE 2022 will presumably come with iOS 15 installed, it will also get the added benefits of all the new features iOS 16 will bring, along with even more updates down the line.
iPhone SE 2022 cameras
The current iPhone SE isn't known for its cameras, and it's unlikely the next-gen model will see much of an upgrade. In fact, it may no see a lens upgrade at all.
The iPhone SE (2020) sports a 12MP f/1.8 wide-angle rear camera and 7MP f/2.2 front-facing camera, which isn't exactly the best at taking beautiful ultra-wide shots of amazing landscapes like the iPhone 13. Taking low-light pictures isn't its forte, either. Currently, iPhone SE 2022 camera rumours are scarce, but thanks to the hint of an upgraded processor, we may get improved visual processing instead.
As Macworld points out, the updated Apple iPad 2021 received an improved 12MP front-facing camera, and we may see the same lens fitted onto the upcoming iPhone SE. Selfie fiends will be happy with that.
iPhone SE 2022 is still gearing up to be one of the best budget smartphones on the market. With all signs pointing to 5G connectivity, it may even be one of the most affordable 5G smartphones around.
The 2022 model is looking to be more of an iPhone SE Plus with a 5G update and the same form factor as the iPhone SE (2020), as analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Ross Young generally hit the nail on the head when it comes to Apple rumors. Still, if an iPhone SE design overhaul is in the works, Apple may surprise us with the “iPhone XR 5G” design instead.
As always, have a helpful serving of salt when taking this all in, as Apple has yet to officially announce any iPhone SE 2022. In the meantime, check out the best smartphones you can buy right now (spoiler: it includes the iPhone SE 2020).