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 and iPhone XS 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 last quarter. 

With that and hugely increased competition from budget and 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 is actively considering a lower-cost device, which would be 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 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

  • 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 be used, potentially based on the iPhone 8 screen size of 4.7-inches.

After all, we're expecting the iPhone 8 to stick 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. 

However, we have also heard rumours that Apple may be planning to include a fingerprint sensor under the display which could be in addition to Face ID on more expensive iPhones such as next year's iPhone 12. 

However, 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

Some rumours suggest that the iPhone SE will retain its current, enormously popular, smaller screen size of 4-inches. 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.

Instead, we think a cheaper iPhone will simply be based on the iPhone 8 and use that handset's 4.7-inch display 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.

Interestingly, the iPhone SE was on sale around the $399/£399 mark while the iPhone 8 remains on sale from Apple for $599/£599 as you can see from our latest deals: 

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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 rest of the latest generation of iPhones, primarily due to cost. 

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