I still think the iPhone SE2 needs to happen, and so should Apple

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

In the absence of a "one more thing" announcement, arguably the most surprising part about Apple's big product launch event earlier this week was the starting price of the non-Pro iPhone 11 variant. The 6.1-inch handset is 50 bucks cheaper today than the iPhone XR was a year ago, despite providing a modest battery life upgrade, a substantial overall performance enhancement, and a significant improvement in the versatility of its predecessor's camera system.

Another interesting thing that Apple did is keep the iPhone XR around at a decent discount, while moving the iPhone 8 down at the very bottom of the totem pole by killing off the iPhone 7. This is officially the company's largest and most diverse handset portfolio, strongly contrasting with the days of the single model launch, when Apple typically sold only two or three devices at once.


The Cupertino-based tech giant is all of a sudden betting on a type of diversity Android fans will be quick to point out was their thing first, but while Apple is covering a wider range of price points than ever before, the same cannot be said about sizes. Yes, the iPhone 8 comes with a 4.7-inch display that might be considered small by 2019 standards, but due to those extra-thick bezels, the 2017 device is only slightly shorter and narrower than Samsung's 5.8-inch Galaxy S10e.

That's not what we used to call compact just a couple of years ago, and although I certainly understand the mass appeal of phones with endless screen real estate, it's absurd to have to choose between larger and... even larger mobile devices in this diversity-focused day and age.

People still like the original iPhone SE


Released all the way back in March 2016, the truly compact iPhone SE disappeared from Apple's main e-store in September 2018. But the outdated 4-incher made a surprising return in January 2019 as part of a "clearance" deal that was brought back again and again and again in subsequent months. Ultimately, the manufacturer must have completely run out of inventory, although the handset continued to attract a great deal of attention at Walmart, AT&T, and various smaller carriers in addition to a bunch of top-rated eBay sellers and e-tailers like Rakuten and Woot.


Obviously, I don't have the numbers to prove these iPhone SE deals were indeed popular and that people actually flocked to buy the discounted device, but what I can tell you is our articles tackling all those killer bargains got excellent views. More views, in fact, than your typical iPhone X, XR, or XS special offer. And let's not forget that poll from around five months ago, where 91 percent of votes went in favor of a hypothetical "iPhone XE" with all the power in a tiny body.

The iPhone SE2 doesn't even necessarily need a major facelift


For a die-hard fan of diminutive gadgets like myself, a modern iPhone SE sequel with 3D facial recognition, razor-thin bezels, and a dual camera setup would be the dream. An iPhone X-inspired notch could also help squeeze a significantly larger screen into a similar chassis as the first-gen iPhone SE, which measures a measly 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm, compared to the 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm dimensions of the iPhone 8.


But after three and a half years of waiting and several different rumor cycles that didn't go anywhere, I'd be happy with a rehashed iPhone SE powered by a modern processor... provided the price is low enough. After all, that strategy seems to have worked just fine for the "modern" iPad mini, released earlier this year with an archaic design but a vastly improved A12 Bionic chipset under the hood.

Interestingly, the newest speculation calls for a "low-cost" 2020 iPhone model based on the iPhone 8 design rather than the SE, with a 4.7-inch LCD panel, conventional Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and the blazing fast Apple A13 Bionic SoC. That's not exactly what I had in mind, but it's definitely a step in the right direction from both a size and budget standpoint. Besides, it's not etched in stone yet, so I'll continue to keep my fingers crossed for an even smaller body than that of the iPhone 8.

A great pretext for Apple to tackle the mid-range segment


Let's stop talking for a second about why the iPhone SE2 needs to happen from the consumer point of view and discuss its prospective contribution to Apple's business. It's no secret that iPhone shipments are on the decline, a trend unlikely to be reversed until 5G breaks into the mainstream. While device profit margins remain hefty and the company's increasingly competitive "services" should guarantee steady revenue streams for years to come, it can't hurt to try to strengthen the iPhone mix as well.


For Samsung, a redesigned mid-end portfolio was the solution to the recent stagnation that impacted pretty much the entire mobile industry. Suggesting Apple do something similar would have been inconceivable not long ago, but after the iPhone XR and iPhone 11, replacing the iPhone 8 with a truly affordable new model feels sort of natural and almost like a no-brainer.

The beauty of an iPhone SE2 is that Apple wouldn't even have to admit it's interested in the mid-range segment all of a sudden. Instead, the company could make it seem like it's answering our pleas for a modern handset with an easy to maneuver body and decent processing power (even the A12 Bionic SoC will do). Besides, if this doesn't join the Face ID club and ends up retaining the current $450 price tag of the iPhone 8, the profits generated by it should be quite solid. Talk about a win-win scenario. 

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18 Comments

1. baller23

Posts: 27; Member since: Apr 18, 2013

Next year iPhone 8 will be out. People will want an update to iPhone 8.

4. Mike88

Posts: 415; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

It shouldn’t exist but Tcook is stupid and should resign

8. Vokilam

Posts: 1219; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

I hate what Tim is doing to Apple.

9. sgodsell

Posts: 7383; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

"The Cupertino-based tech giant is all of a sudden betting on a type of diversity Android fans will be quick to point out was their thing first, but while Apple is covering a wider range of price points than ever before" Was someone from Apple holding a gun to your family when you posted that? If so continue to sneak messages out, we might be able to save them. If not then diversity from older iPhones has to be a joke, because all OEMs have older smartphones. Plus it's so obvious that Apple is trying to push its customers in a direction, where Apple wants them to go, especially for the type of pricing that is offered. Btw Apple's pricing is high and higher. That's it for the choices. Apple likes that better, that is why you won't see an iPhone SE 2.

2. Knownhost

Posts: 107; Member since: Nov 13, 2017

I would respect that move. Apple has followed Android into ever larger screen sizes, which I personally prefer. Having said that, a small iPhone, even if it attracts fewer users than larger screens, would be a legitimate way to differentiate the iPhone from the rest of the market.

22. civicsr2cool

Posts: 271; Member since: Oct 19, 2016

This. The SE was my first iPhone, I stood in line to wait for it even. I hated Apple and iPhones but it was my only choice for a regular size phone. It is sad that it is STILL the only option for a regular size phone.

5. saif2711

Posts: 85; Member since: Feb 22, 2016

Despite being a success I don't understand why apple never launched an iphone se next gen.Apple seems afraid of going into the mid range category.

6. clinical_insomnia

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 13, 2019

I bought an iphone SE 128gb early this year. My head literally sank with disappointment at the confirmation of the 11 screen size. I may have considered something even just slightly smaller for the camera upgrade alone, but it's just not worth the expense for me with the tradeoff of losing total one handed functionality. At the end of the day I like not being constantly aware of the massive rectangle in my pocket.

16. libra89

Posts: 2282; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

I can relate. Hearing that the 11 is the same size as the XR was very disappointing.

7. User123456789

Posts: 926; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Iphone SE is so cute, unlike the current fugly one.

10. Klinton

Posts: 1409; Member since: Oct 24, 2016

I think same about Note 4, to have a new Fan Edition. It will be a killer. With same bells and whistles. The Note4 FE, doesn't even necessarily need a major upgrade. Same design, same body. Samsung just need to make it 64 or 128 gb , put newer FP Scanner with Samsung Pay, and improve a little the battery life. And if put smaller bezels aka a bit larger screen in the same body, will be great.

11. LEEDAQ

Posts: 185; Member since: Aug 07, 2018

this is a true failure in 2019. Just buy a chinese phone

12. Vogue1985

Posts: 465; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Apple has been very lazy past couple of years,so dont see them making a new one. Plus in my markets this is their most popular model as it's the cheapest,still has classic design and features (Headphones plug).

13. Cat97

Posts: 1897; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Ming Chi Kuo said that an iPhone with 5.4" screen will be launched next year. I suppose this will be the new SE. It will probably be a bit larger than the SE and a bit smaller than the iPhone 6/6s/7/8 (or maybe same size).

15. Alcyone

Posts: 410; Member since: May 10, 2018

We'll see in that. Better chance of getting spaghetti to stick to a wall. Apple wants profit, and best margin comes from the pro line (now).

14. gadgetpower

Posts: 208; Member since: Aug 23, 2019

iPhone SE 2 with face ID and updated spec. There are still people want a small phone.

19. sebstin

Posts: 189; Member since: Dec 03, 2015

Def need a smaller form factor phone with specs similar to major flagships (or slightly less).. tired of seeing 6"+ phones daily.. 5-5.5" bezel less phones needed soon (140mm X 70mm)..

21. Solarius

Posts: 11; Member since: May 24, 2019

I have lots of Android smartphone Xiaomi mi mix 2 , oneplus 5 or Samsung Galaxy note 10 plus but in m'y pocket i use iPhone SE is my phone when i go out

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