Like us, you probably thought the iPhone SE was dead. But rumours continue to swirl that Apple will indeed launch a lower-cost iPhone in 2020. 

Apple is having a hard time selling the iPhone XR in countries such as China and India, with the US-China trade war further harming Apple's bottom line. In the Summer, India sales were reported to have fallen by over 40 percent in the previous quarter. The advent of iPhone 11 has seen a slight shift in Apple's strategy, with the 11 and XR occupying upper mid-range rather than flagship price brackets. 

With hugely increased competition from budget and cheaper mid-range smartphones, it's becoming a case of when not if, Apple will do something in the low-to-mid area of the market. According to Nikkei, Apple will soon debut a lower-cost device based on the iPhone 8. 

The original iPhone SE has now been discontinued, even though Apple did put a few units back on sale from its US refurbished store early in 2019. 

As far as we knew, Apple was still selling plenty of iPhone SE units even in 2018 - there was clearly still an appetite for a smaller-screen iPhone. And this was despite the age of the components - the hardware was similar to the iPhone 6S from late-2015.

So will we get a cheap iPhone to replace the SE - and slot in beneath the iPhone XR? 

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Design and Touch ID

  • Design based on iPhone 8?
  • Touch ID still on the cards

Although Apple is keen on moving completely towards Face ID, it's still the case that many users are very happy with Touch ID and it's this that a new entry-level handset would use. All the suggestions point towards the based on the iPhone 8 screen size of 4.7-inches.

The iPhone 8 has stuck around as part of Apple's 2019 iPhone range - it's three years old - but convention dictates that it would be discontinued in 2020. A repackage of the existing iPhone 8 - perhaps with the updated hardware we've discussed below - might make sense as a different offering...although Apple could simply keep offering the iPhone 8 instead, of course. 

However, we have also heard rumours that Apple may be planning to include a fingerprint sensor under the display. And this tech could potentially also come to a cheaper iPhone, too, and enable the cheap iPhone to have a display across the entirety of the front of the phone. It would mean that Touch ID would work more like the fingerprint readers in many Android phones now. 

Display

  • 4.7-inch display
  • Unlikely to have True Tone

Some rumours suggest that the cheaper iPhone would retain the current, enormously popular, smaller screen size of 4-inches from the iPhone SE. The 326ppi retina display we first saw in the iPhone 5 remains enormously clear and crisp even if its 1,136 × 640 resolution is now dated.

We think it's unlikely, and that a cheaper iPhone will use the iPhone 8's 4.7-inch display instead with a 1,334 x 750 pixel resolution. 

3D Touch probably won't arrive now it seems to have been sidelined, while it's unlikely that True Tone would be supported in such an entry-level device (it is in the iPhone 8, though). 

Specs and camera

  • Based on relatively recent Apple hardware
  • Probably will use the camera from the iPhone 8

We'd have thought the iPhone SE 2 would be based on a fairly recent Apple A-Series chipset - probably the A11 Bionic from the iPhone 8. The internal storage probably wouldn't be that huge - perhaps 64GB - to keep costs down.

A new report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests the cheaper iPhone will land soon with a new antenna design and other upgraded internals, even suggesting a new A13 Bionic chip. We think that unlikely as it would increase cost too much. 

Interestingly, the iPhone SE was on sale around the $399/£399 mark originally while the iPhone 8 remains on sale from Apple for $459/£479 as you can see from our latest deals - that's a saving of over $100/£100 from last year: 

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If the new cheap iPhone used hardware from the iPhone 8 we'd also surely see the 12MP ƒ/1.8 aperture camera we’ve seen in other iPhones – maybe with up to 4K 60fps if the camera comes over from the iPhone 8. 

We don't think the cheap iPhone would support Qi wireless charging (like the current iPhone 8) due to cost. 

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