We're going to get a cheaper, mid-range iPhone soon. Apple surprised the industry a little in 2016 when it launched a revamped version of an old design. The iPhone SE was what so many had been crying out for - a small phone with powerful capabilities and affordable price point. 

With that phone long discontinued, rumours and speculation about a follow up have ebbed and flowed in and out of discussion for the past couple of years. 

Now it seems we're finally going to get a replacement. And it won't be called iPhone SE 2 (or iPhone 9) - instead, it'll just be iPhone SE again, which everybody (OK, us here at Pocket-lint) will most likely add a year to - iPhone SE (2020) if you will. 

Those expecting another powerful tiny iPhone 5S lookalike might be disappointed - it'll most likely resemble and replace the iPhone 8 but with iPhone XR or iPhone 11-related insides. 

iPhone SE release date and price

  • Around $400/£400
  • April/May 2020 release timeframe

Pricing and release time are pretty crucial for the iPhone SE (2020). Given its naming - and the ethos behind that - it's probably going to be the cheapest iPhone available when it is released.

Bloomberg stated that Apple was ramping up mass production in February. Apple was rumoured to be hold an event on 31 March but given the current state of affairs globally that didn't happen - and we got press releases about the MacBook Air and new iPad Pro instead. 

Even though Apple has suggested the production of iPhones has been hit by global events, it looks as though this launch is on track. 

Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated his belief that the iPhone SE 2 will come in under $400. Specifically, that it will cost $399. If it's accurate, that's probably around £399 in the UK. We think it will replace the iPhone 8 which was likely due to be removed from the range this September anyway. 

What will the cheap iPhone be called? 

The new iPhone SE is to 2020 what the iPhone SE was to 2016: the body of an old phone, but with the internals and hardware of a modern flagship.

After an April 2020 leak it appears that Apple will indeed use the iPhone SE name once more. 

@OnLeaks/iGeeksBlog

The second school of thought is that because it looks like a revamp of the iPhone 8, that it may be called the iPhone 9. There's a little problem with this suggestion: Apple has already skipped through X (10 in Roman numerals), XS and is now up to 11 in its naming sequence, and so skipping back to 9 might just be a little too confusing. 

iPhone SE design

  • Looks like the iPhone 8
  • Aluminium perhaps replaced with polished steel
  • Frosted glass back like iPhone 11 Pro
  • Could be a 'Plus' model too

The first published renders - from a source who is usually bang on the money - suggests the iPhone SE will be very similar to the iPhone 8, which is likely to be discontinued this year. 

That means the display has some fairly hefty bezel at the top and the bottom, with this lower 'chin' playing home to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. With this older design, it looks very unlikely we'll see Face ID facial recognition - Touch ID will remain for now. Last year's iPad Air and iPad mini revealed that Apple isn't afraid to stick with Touch ID on lower-priced models. 

Apple might also be ditching the anodised aluminium, instead opting for the heavier polished steel that it's used on the iPhone X, XS and 11 Pro series phones. That's just speculation based on the shiny finish of the metal in the pictures though. 

If Apple's primary aim is to create an affordable, powerful, compact device, steel might not be realistic due to cost compared to aluminium. 

One more interesting point is that it appears the glass on the back could be frosted just like the finish of the glass on the iPhone 11 Pro. Again, this is just detail added by the person creating the renders, it's not necessarily an accurate representation of the phone. 

We think it's unlikely that Apple will launch a 'Plus' model alongside the regular iPhone SE, instead, leaving that role to the iPhone XR. 

iPhone SE display

  • 4.7-inch LCD panel
  • 750 x 1,334 resolution
  • 326 ppi

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

If the design does take after the iPhone 8, it seems more likely we're talking about a similar 4.7-inch display from that device too. That means it should still be sharp and detailed. We're unsure if it's going to feature the True Tone capability. 

@OnLeaks/iGeeksBlog

Going against that narrative completely, a more recent rumour suggests that there will be a version of the phone with a notched 5.4-inch display, filling up more of the space on the front. Given how many reports are singing from the 'iPhone 8' hymn sheet, we're sceptical of that one. 

iPhone SE camera

  • Single camera
  • Exact specs unknown, possibly 12MP

One thing that seems relatively clear about the iPhone SE's camera is that it only has one sensor. Based on the renders, and the fact that the iPhone 8 had just the single camera, it's the safest bet to assume no dual or triple cameras will appear on it. 

As for the exact specifications and capabilities of the camera: that's unknown. Given Apple's recent history of sticking with 12-megapixel sensors, that seems another safe bet, likely with 4K video recording. If it has the same camera as the iPhone 8, it'll be capable of shooting up to 60 frames per second too. It has been rumoured that the camera unit itself is larger. 

Then again, a lot of this comes down to where the SE fits within Apple's portfolio. If the iPhone 8 is discontinued in favour of this device, then it makes sense to have some upgraded hardware.

If it's designed to slip in at an even lower price point than the iPhone 8, then it's likely compromise will be seen somewhere, and that could include the camera. 

iPhone SE hardware/specs

  • Apple A13 Bionic platform
  • 64GB storage?

If Apple is to launch a phone cheaper than any of its current range, as we've already said, there has to be some compromise somewhere. With that said, some of the earliest rumours suggested we're going to see the A13 Bionic processor inside the SE 2, and it's a rumour that's been repeated often. 

This would give it the same power as the iPhone 11. If it's true, this would surely mean the discontinuation of the iPhone 8. It would make no sense whatsoever to have the two devices together, not if the price prediction is accurate. 

It's also been suggested the iPhone SE will have 64, 128 or 256GB of storage and 3GB RAM. 

Apple iPhone SE rumours: what's happened so far? 

Here are all the rumours and leaks surrounding the iPhone SE thus far.

3 April 2020: iPhone SE name leaked, other details

It looks like the incoming iPhone SE (2020) will use the iPhone 8 shell and screen after the leak of a screen protector listing that shows it is the same size as the iPhone 7 and 8. It looks as though it will have the same internals as the iPhone 11. It'll come in red, black and white and there will be three storage sizes - 64, 128 and 256GB.

Some rumours also suggest 22 April for a launch date.

16 March 2020: iPhone 9 Plus coming with 5.5-inch screen

Unlike the original SE, it appears Apple may be planning to launch the new affordable series as a regular and 'Plus' model. If so, this would likely mean a discontinuation of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. 

18 February 2020: Apple to hold a March event?

Fitting in with the narative of a spring reveal, the latest rumour suggests that Apple will hold a spring event on 31 March with the phone going on sale on 3 April. We also may get a revised iPad lineup on that date. 

22 January 2020: Mass production in February 2020, launch in March

As had been predicted previously, it seems Apple is gearing up to a launch in Spring 2020. A report claims that the manufacturer will ramp up production in February 2020, with the aim to unveil it the following month. 

14 January 2020: Longer screen and Face ID?

Just to put a cat in amongst the pigeons, another rumour goes directly against the current thinking and suggests we won't see a Touch ID sensor, but a longer screen and Face ID instead. We're not sure about this one. 

7 January 2020: We get our first look at a quality 3D render

3D renders are published, giving us our first proper look at the phone. It looks very much like a revamped version of the iPhone 8, with a slight change in materials. 

3 January 2020: SE 2 could actually be the iPhone 9

Another rumour predicts that the phone won't be called the iPhone SE 2. Instead, it'll be the iPhone 9, and might even be available in two different versions. 

14 October 2019: iPhone SE 2 could cost just $399

Another prediction from an analyst, this time suggesting the updated affordable iPhone will cost just $399. We're not sure, given the closeness in price with the iPhone 8. Perhaps Apple will discontinue the 8. 

3 October 2019: 2020 launch predicted by analyst

Ming-Chi Kuo, a known analyst, stated his belief that Apple will launch the second generation iPhone SE in 2020. 

4 September 2019: A13 Bionic chip, 2020 launch

Not the first or last time you see a certain analyst's name mentioned. One of his earliest predictions of a 2020 launch, but we also get mention of possible hardware specs. We might expect A13 Bionic processor. 

1 May 2018: iPhone SE 2 renders, with Face ID notch

One of the earliest looks at a phone that never happened. This one actually looked like the iPhone SE from 2016, but Apple didn't launch it.