The Next iPhone SE Will Get 5G, but Not a Redesign

The Next iPhone SE Will Get 5G, but Not a Redesign
Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo

If you were hoping that the next iPhone SE would get a revamp, some good and bad news. A report from Macotakara, a Japanese Apple blog, claims that the next-gen iPhone SE will get a significant spec bump and 5G. It also says that you shouldn’t expect any sort of redesign — and that’s a bit of a bummer.

More specifically, the third-gen iPhone SE is expected to keep the very same 4.7-inch Retina HD display and Touch ID. This is counter to rumours from last year, in which reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the company was working on a larger version of the phone — a 5.5-inch iPhone SE Plus, if you will. As for what actually will get upgraded, it seems that’ll all be internal. The third-gen iPhone SE will get the A15 processor currently inside the iPhone 13 lineup, as well as 5G. As for when we’ll see it? Macotakara claims that the phone will go into production sometime in December, in time for a Spring 2022 launch.

This isn’t unexpected. A Nikkei Asia report back in July echoed much of the same thing. It is somewhat disappointing, however, as it’s a pretty convincing sign that the iPhone Mini’s failure to catch on means Apple’s not keen on spending more resources on innovating the small phone factor. Instead, it’s thought that Apple will be opting for two 6.1-inch phones and two 6.7-inch phones, one of which will be a “cheaper” version of the Pro Max.

This makes sense and is baffling at the same time. We all have a tiny-handed friend who complains that phones these days are too big to use one-handed. The iPhone Mini was supposed to be a compromise. Technologically more advanced than the SE, but at a size that was more accommodating to smaller hands. Instead, sales for the iPhone 12 Mini were dismal at best. You could blame that on the Mini’s not-so-great battery life, or the fact that pandemic Netflix binges incentivized larger screens. Perhaps it was the classic problem of having two smaller phones that weren’t different enough to warrant the Mini’s higher price tag. But at the same time, what exactly is holding Apple back from mashing together the best of the iPhone SE and the iPhone Mini into one excellent small phone that costs less than its bigger brothers? Maybe something with a larger screen, the iPhone 13 Mini’s improved battery life, and the current SE’s cameras? (In our review of the 2nd-gen iPhone SE, the phone’s updated specs helped its not-so-advanced cameras take some impressive photos.)

There’s a temptation to give into schadenfreude. You tiny-handed numskulls begged for a tiny phone and then didn’t show up — you deserve to have to choose between a smaller phone using older tech, or a larger phone that’s irksome to hold. But I’d argue that we’re at the point where a 4.7-inch screen is hard on the eyes and not all that helpful for modern tasks, given how we use phones in 2021 versus 2017. The iPhone SE may be a budget phone, but is it really beyond Apple’s capability to make an affordable phone with a screen that fits how we use phones today?