The current third-generation iPhone SE is Apple’s smallest device, modeled after the iPhone 8. It measures in at 4.7 inches, and it is the only iPhone that includes thick bezels and a Touch ID Home button.
That’s set to change with the next iPhone SE update, with rumors indicating that Apple has a new design planned. The fourth-generation iPhone SE will feature an all-display design like Apple’s flagship lineup, with Apple eliminating the Home button in favor of another authentication method.
Leaker Jon Prosser has suggested the iPhone SE 4 could look similar to the 2018 iPhone XR, a device that featured rounded edges rather than the squared off look of modern iPhones. Prior versions of the iPhone SE have all been modeled after earlier iPhones, so the suggestion is plausible.
The iPhone XR
The original iPhone SE was based on the iPhone 5s, while the second and third-generation versions resemble the iPhone 8. That said, Apple could instead model the iPhone SE after the iPhone 12 and later, adding the more modern look that the company has been using for the last few years.
The iPhone XR had a 6.1-inch display, and multiple rumors have suggested that Apple is considering a 5.7 to 6.1-inch display for the device.
Prosser and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believe Apple will use a 6.1-inch display, while display analyst Ross Young believes that Apple is considering both 5.7-inch and 6.1-inch display options for the next iPhone SE. Young said that Apple has not yet finalized its plans for the iPhone SE 4, so both options are still possible.
The iPhone SE is the last remaining iPhone that has an LCD display, and other iPhones in Apple’s lineup are equipped with OLED. Apple has used all OLED technology for flagship iPhones since the iPhone 12, in fact.
It is not yet clear if Apple will use LCD or OLED technology for the iPhone SE 4, and Young says that both are possibilities. Apple is considering 6.1-inch OLED displays from two suppliers, as well as 5.7 to 6.1-inch LCDs. The iPhone SE is much more affordable than other iPhones and the cost of OLED may see Apple opting for an LCD instead, but OLED prices may have come down enough for Apple to transition to OLED for the next iPhone SE.
With an all-display design, Apple is expected to adopt a notch for the iPhone SE, which is the design that Apple has used for flagship iPhones since the 2017 iPhone XR.
A notched display will give Apple a place to put the front-facing camera, but it is not yet clear if the iPhone SE will support Face ID and the TrueDepth camera system given the cost of the hardware.
By the time the iPhone SE comes out, the flagship iPhone lineup will have transitioned entirely to the Dynamic Island, so the older notch design will set the iPhone SE apart.
Touch ID or Face ID?
Apple has been transitioning away from Face ID and the iPhone SE is the last remaining iPhone with Touch ID. Because Face ID has been around since 2017, Apple could opt to use it for the next-generation iPhone SE.
Information from MyDrivers and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicates that the iPhone SE 4 could have a Touch ID power button, similar to the iPad Air, iPad, and iPad mini. This technology has not been used for an iPhone as of yet, but a Touch ID power button could keep costs low and differentiate the iPhone SE from the flagship iPhones.
The current iPhone SE is equipped with the same A15 chip that was in the iPhone 13 models, so the iPhone SE could get a prior-generation chip when it launches.
Since it’s coming in 2024, it will be available in the same year as the iPhone 16 lineup and a year after the iPhone 15. The standard iPhone 15 models are expected to use the A16 in the iPhone 14 Pro models, so there is a good chance the iPhone SE 4 will have an A16 chip.
The current iPhone SE is equipped with 5G technology, and the next-generation version will likely get an upgraded 5G chip with support for more bands.
Rumors suggest that the iPhone SE will launch in 2024, with no refresh for the line planned for 2023.