Apple’s cheapest smartphone, the iPhone SE, might receive a huge upgrade with its next generational update, according to some recent rumours. The iPhone SE first launched in 2015, sharing the same design as the iPhone 5S – it was then revived in 2020 with Apple using the iPhone 8’s chassis, which was maintained for the current, third-generation model. Now, though, it looks as if the SE could be getting a screen-focused overhaul for its upcoming 4th generation.
According to industry analyst Ross Young (opens in new tab), Apple is currently debating whether to outfit the new iPhone SE with a 6.1-inch OLED panel, or a 5.7 to 6.1-inch LCD panel. With the current iPhone SE using a 4.7-inch LCD display, all of these options present worthwhile upgrades, however, there are concerns that Apple might be missing the whole point of the SE here.
The iPhone SE slots into the line-up as a cheaper and smaller iPhone for those who want an alternative to the flagship devices. Apple has since killed its compact flagship Mini devices with the iPhone 14 line, meaning the SE is the only iPhone you can purchase with a screen size of under 6-inches. The 13 Mini remains on sale for now, but it's likely to be the last small iPhone for the foreseeable future if these rumours about the new SE are true.
There’s also the issue of costs, as an OLED screen could push the price of the new SE far beyond the current model's £449 / $429 / AU$719. A 6.1-inch OLED display would also put the SE practically on par with the current iPhone 14, which is a five-star screen, but certainly brings into question whether the SE will remain the budget champion iPhone that is been up to this point.
The LCD option seems like the most economical and “SE-like” option. Apple is said to be considering panels ranging from 5.7-inches to 6.1-inches, which would bring the big screen experience to the SE. It could also keep costs down, maintaining the budget spirit of the SE and avoiding pricing out those who want a cheaper iPhone.
Expectations are that the iPhone SE 4th Generation will use an iPhone XR-like design, with a notch and slimmed bezels. The home button may be replaced with a side-mounted lock button equipped with a fingerprint sensor, akin to the current iPad Air and Mini – although this is certainly speculation. The next generation iPhone SE is not expected to launch until 2024, so there is still plenty of time for Apple to amend its design.
Read our full review of the Apple iPhone 14
Or the bigger, better iPhone 14 Pro Max review
Check out our list of the best iPhones