iPhone SE 4: Samsung and Google will hate the $500 flagship-killer that Android users will love

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
iPhone SE 4: Samsung and Google will hate the $500 flagship-killer that Android users will love
It’s not exactly clear why Apple created the iPhone SE lineup.

When the first iPhone SE came out in 2016 (modelled after the older iPhone 5S), some thought this was Apple “listening to the fans” who (at the time) were still asking for a super-compact iPhone.

Personally, I thought (Apple being Apple) this was Cupertino's way of recycling older hardware parts for a profit - not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, since none of the aforementioned theories are verifiable, I suppose we should stick to the third and safest one, which is that the iPhone SE is simply Apple’s answer to the best budget and affordable Android phones - a $400 iPhone for those who don’t want to pay $800-1,200 to become part of team iOS.

Fast forward to today, the iPhone SE 3 looks exactly like the iPhone SE 2 from 2020, which itself was an iPhone 8 with the latest at the time Apple chip. In other words, the tradition of recycling (really) old iPhone parts continues, making the SE lineup feel rather stagnant - especially compared to some $400-500 Android phones available on the market today.

But it seems now the alleged iPhone SE 4 is finally about to do something to change that! And depending on how you look at it, this phone might be one of the most exciting upgrades we’ve seen in a while. I even think it could be one of the best selling phones of 2024. That's if... it comes out in 2024.

Here's what to expect from Apple's first true flagship-killer iPhone according to the latest leaks and rumors.

iPhone SE 4 - possibly the best value iPhone ever could make some Galaxy, Pixel and OnePlus phones look less impressive

According to leaskter Unknownz21, the new iPhone SE should look almost the same as the iPhone 14. This means Face ID should finally replace the ancient (but beloved by some) Touch ID home button, while the leakster also says we should expect USB-C, a single rear camera, and even the same Action button expected to debut on iPhone 15 Pro in September. Apart from that, a different leak suggests the iPhone SE 4 will use an OLED display, just like iPhone 14.

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With tall his early information on hand, and some educated guessing based on Apple's general strategy for differentiating iPhone models, here’s a quick specs breakdown of the iPhone SE 4. Take this with a pinch of salt…

  • iPhone SE 4 display: 6.1-inch, 60Hz OLED display with a notch cutout (identical to iPhone 14)
  • iPhone SE 4 camera: Single 12MP rear camera and a 12MP front camera with 4K video recording
  • iPhone SE 4 battery and charging: ≥ 3,000 mAh battery, USB-C charging port, wireless charging support
  • iPhone SE 4 performance and storage: Apple A16 Bionic chip (6GB RAM); 128GB, 256GB storage options
  • iPhone SE 4 extra features to expect: IP67 dust and water protection, Action button
  • iPhone SE 4 price: $529 starting price (explained further into the article)

The “boring” but reliable iPhone SE 4 could outsell every Android phone on the market and get millions of Android users to switch to iPhone

Now, if the above mentioned specs make the iPhone SE seem like a “killer deal”, that’s because it really could be. Apple is coming for Android, and the more modern looking iPhone SE 4 could finally persuade even the most loyal Android users to switch teams.

If you ever considered buying an iPhone, or upgrading from an old model but couldn’t because of how expensive current iPhones are, the alleged iPhone SE 4 will undoubtedly attract your attention, while putting Android alternatives like the vanilla Pixel flagship, Nothing Phone, and Galaxy FE in a tricky position.

Don’t get me wrong, Android’s $400-600 flagship-killers will have enough extra features to attract certain users who care enough about a 120Hz refresh rate display and an ultra-wide-angle camera. But frankly… Apart from those two features, I don’t see how Android phones in this price range will be able to compete with the alleged iPhone SE 4.

iPhone SE 4: Why $529 is the perfect price for the first flagship-killer iPhone in history

Now let’s get back to the price of the iPhone SE 4, because this will (undoubtedly) be what makes or breaks Apple’s alleged flagship-killer.

Although some tipsters expect the iPhone SE 4 to cost $599, I’d argue this is an overestimate, since it would bring the iPhone SE too close to the $799 iPhone 15 (of course if the iPhone 15’s price doesn’t go up this year).

This leaves us with two alternatives. The first one is that the iPhone SE 4 will cost as much as the current iPhone SE, which starts at $429. I can immediately tell you that this is virtually impossible, considering the upgrades, the inflation, and Apple’s unconditional love for... profit.

The second, and most likely possibility (in my opinion) is that the iPhone SE 4 should cost exactly $100 more than the current iPhone SE, or $529. Considering all the hardware upgrades and most notably the completely new design, this price seems fair while it'd also set the iPhone SE far apart from the iPhone 15, which I expect to start at $799.

Apple’s iPhone SE 4 might seem “too good to be true” but Apple knows exactly how to keep the price low

Finally, here’s the $500 question I know many of you might be asking… How is Apple going to make an iPhone SE that essentially looks like an iPhone 14 (only with one less camera on the back) for nearly $300 less?

The truth is that while the iPhone SE 4 is indeed expected to look like an iPhone 14, in reality, there are so many different areas where Apple could cut costs when making the iPhone SE 4. In fact, the only real upgrades to the iPhone SE 4 compared to the iPhone SE 3 could very well be the new chassis, the new display, and the Face ID sensors.

  • The camera sensors in the iPhone SE 4 will likely be older than the ones used in the iPhone 14. Remember, the iPhone SE 3 uses iPhone 8’s rear camera sensor, which means Apple might choose to use the iPhone 13, iPhone 12, iPhone 11, or even the iPhone XS primary camera in the iPhone SE 4, and rely on the advanced image signal processor of the A16 Bionic chip for better photos and videos.

  • The iPhone SE 4’s display is expected to be an area where Apple will save as much money as possible. Rumor has it that Cupertino is currently running a bidding to choose the most cost-effective display supplier; as of now, BEO and a company called Tianma are expected to supply the 60Hz OLED panels for the iPhone SE 4 (Apple’s latest iPhone 14 series use Samsung and LG panels).

  • If the iPhone SE 4 launches in the Spring of 2024 (as per Apple tradition), the A16 Bionic chip expected to power the SE 4 will essentially be two years old. Given that Apple’s new vanilla flagships (iPhone 14, iPhone 15) no longer get the latest and greatest chip (which is saved for the Pro models), it’s extremely unlikely the iPhone SE will get it either.

In the end, although it would look far more modern compared to the latest iPhone SE (2022), I view the iPhone SE 4 as a classic Apple “mind trick” possible thanks to the company’s strategy of “slow innovation”. Basically, Apple has so far set the expectations for the iPhone SE model so low, that the alleged iPhone SE 4 could end up seeming like a huge upgrade, when in reality... it's shaping up to be a perfectly normal $500 phone without any extraordinary features.

But does that change the fact that the iPhone SE 4 could end up being one of the best value phones of 2024? I doubt that.

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