iPhone SE 4 leak reveals a desperately needed design update

iPhone SE 4 leaks reveal case design on X (formerly Twitter)
Images of an iPhone SE 4 case leaked on X (formerly Twitter) (Image credit: @MajinBuOfficial via X/Twitter)

This weekend, images leaked on X (formerly Twitter) showing a case for the upcoming iPhone SE 4 and revealing some major hints about the phone's design. Apple's budget iPhone has been getting an update every couple of years since its return in 2020, so it's due for a refresh. If these iPhone SE 4 leaks turn out to be accurate, it looks like Apple might be finally giving the iPhone SE the design update it desperately needs. 

Here's what we know so far. 

iPhone SE 4 leak reveals case design 

iPhone SE 4 in Blue renders by LaptopMag.com

These iPhone SE 4 renders by LaptopMag.com match the design seen in leaked case images (Image credit: Laptop Mag / Rael Hornby)

On March 30, user @MajinBuOfficial leaked images on X (formerly Twitter) showing a case for the iPhone SE 4 and, as a result, revealing the phone's design. The case has a gap for a single lens camera on the back and appears to have space for wide, squared off sides like modern iPhones have. The screen size also appears to be larger than previous iPhone SE models. 

While Apple has yet to officially announce the latest version of their budget iPhone, there are a few reasons this leak could turn out to be accurate. For one thing, the iPhone SE is due for a refresh soon. Apple released the iPhone SE 2 on April 24, 2020 and the iPhone SE 3 on March 11, 2022. 

So, this time of year is historically when Apple announces a new iPhone SE. That means it's certainly possible they are currently gearing up for a release. If that is true, it makes sense that third party companies could be manufacturing cases for the iPhone SE 4 already. However, it's worth noting that an Apple roadmap leaked in March has the iPhone SE 4 release window slated for 2025, so Apple might be shifting its release pattern for the SE. 

Aside from timing, the design seen in this leak is also plausible. The iPhone SE's design was already old when the 2020 model launched. It's practically retro now. It's high time for Apple to ditch the home button and chunky bezels on the iPhone SE, especially considering similarly priced phones now have far more modern designs, such as the Pixel 7a. It's getting hard for even Apple to justify keeping such an outdated design on the SE. 

So, it makes sense that the iPhone SE 4 will look noticeably different from previous models. Apple tends to borrow designs from former flagships for their budget tech, which is why the SE 4 will probably get a hand-me-down design from the iPhone 12, 13, or even 14. The design in these iPhone SE 4 leaks matches up with that, at least in terms of shape. 

Is this design refresh too little, too late for the iPhone SE? 

iPhone SE 4

It's time for this outdated iPhone SE design to go (Image credit: Jon Prosser/Ian Zelbo)

I would love to see the iPhone SE get a major design overhaul, but would that really be enough to convince budget phone shoppers to give Apple a try? Even if the iPhone SE 4 leaks do turn out to be true and it gets a fresh look and updated specs, it might be too little, too late. 

The 2022 iPhone SE did not sell as well as the 2020 model, according to carrier store surveys. This isn't surprising considering the 3rd gen iPhone SE wasn't significantly different from the 2020 model. Plus, people shopping for a phone in the $400 to $500 range also have the option of buying a used or refurbished flagship iPhone that would offer better specs despite being a bit older. If you're a budget Android user, there are even fewer reasons to switch from a modern Pixel or Samsung to the iPhone SE. 

So, Apple would need to make some major changes to the iPhone SE 4 if they want any hope of winning over users in this price range. This leaked design is a step in the right direction, although the single lens camera does concern me. Even the Pixel 7a has a dual camera setup on the back. 

Why would Apple go to the trouble of updating the iPhone SE 4's design but stick with a single lens rear camera? This leak isn't the first one to include the single lens camera, either. A CAD design leaked last month also shows a single lens rear camera. Hopefully this particular feature seen in the leaks does not turn out to be true, but that does appear to be the direction Apple is taking. 

One feature I'd love to see added to the iPhone SE 4 is USB-C charging. Unfortunately, we can't really tell what kind of charging port the SE 4 might have from these leaked case images. 

However, the screen does look noticeably larger than the current iPhone SE, hinting that previous rumors about a display update could turn out to be true. If the iPhone SE 4 ends up having a 6-inch OLED display, I'll definitely be paying attention to it, but the price will be a crucial factor. 

For this design refresh to be a meaningful update to Apple's only budget phone, they need to keep the price reasonable. Bumping it up above $500 would make it a tough sell for many budget phone users. It's still too soon to say for sure what the iPhone SE 4 will look like or how much it will cost, so we'll have to sit tight for an official announcement from Apple. Until then, we'll be following all of the latest rumors and leaks surrounding the iPhone SE 4, so stay tuned for more details.