iPhone SE 2018: Will There Ever Be Another Mini iPhone?

Paul Briden

03/05/2018 – 10:39pm

Will there be a new iPhone SE in 2018? Or does Apple have other plans for its "affordable" iPhone?

Apple’s first-gen iPhone SE pretty much proved that there was and remains a market for iPhone models with 4in displays – an iPhone Mini, if you will – it sold like hotcakes and people have been clamouring for an updated edition ever since. However, it’s been a long old time since that handset went on sale and we are still yet to see a successor model.

That could be about to change though, or at least fairly soon. The latest rumours and leaks point to a new iPhone SE arriving inside 2018, with some sources saying it could be announced around Apple’s annual WWDC event over the summer. However, an alternative set of rumours also alleges the new iPhone SE model could turn up in September alongside all the others.

Tipsters are calling it the iPhone SE 2 for convenience and brevity’s sake, but it’s not clear what it will be called.

At present there are tips and rumours afoot, some from prominent analysts, which claim that Apple could be gearing up to “simplify” its iPhone naming scheme with the release of 2018’s line-up, according to Apple Insider.

“We think Apple may use this upcoming cycle to formally change its iPhone naming/branding pattern,” said the source.

Specifically referring to Apple’s “mid-market LCD-based iPhone” the report described it as the “iPhone” without any additional letters or numbers. The report adds the top-end model will keep the “X” suffix to signal its place at the top of the portfolio. 

It sounds similar to the naming convention Apple adopted with new iPads, which are now simply divided up into the iPad and iPad Pro (there’s also the iPad Mini 4, of course, which somehow hasn’t caught up yet).

That could mean, according to some, we simply see the iPhone, iPhone X, possibly Plus editions of one or more of those, and perhaps even a new iPhone SE without the “2” bolted on the end, although it may have a different name entirely and simply be a cheaper spin-off of the iPhone X or iPhone.

It’s alleged Apple wants to make the naming scheme less confusing for consumers.

However, the current speculative situation is no less confusing in terms of what kind of phone the iPhone SE 2 might be. As in, we don’t know what version of the iPhone it will be derived from.

Currently there’s a lot of rumours doing the rounds about what Apple will do with 2018’s flagship iPhone models; the successors to the iPhone 8 series and the iPhone X.

That’s because Apple’s bid on high-end, edge-to-edge AMOLED displays, amongst other new tech implemented in the iPhone X, doesn’t seem to have paid off, with Apple’s iPhone X sales taking a dive after an initial rush.

The consensus from most analysts is that Apple priced the iPhone X too high for most consumers, leading Apple to reduce production orders to its Asian factories dramatically.

What’s more, it has since reduced orders for the number of OLED displays purchased from Samsung.

After all this, it’s understandable that many rumours point to Apple possibly going back to IPS LCD Retina displays for most of its 2018 iPhone portfolio, rather than, as was expected, pushing forward to roll out OLED across the range. Some sources say that rather than dealing with two or three new OLED iPhones in late 2018 as was previously expected, we could be looking at a repeat of late 2017 where there is only one.

Apple iPhone SE 2018: Conflicting Reports

Prominent KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo published a report, picked up by Macrumors, where he claims Apple’s September 2018 portfolio includes three handsets all with more-or-less the same design as the iPhone X, including the large, near bezel-free display implementation, and the controversial “notch” at the top.

The trio will also lack a fingerprint scanner, meaning logically all three will use the iPhone X’s front-facing TrueDepth camera and Face ID biometric security in place of Touch ID.

The main handset has a 5.8in OLED display at 458ppi. Then there’s the 6.5in Plus variant, also with OLED and at 480-500ppi. Finally, the third device is a 6.1in TFT LCD at 320-330ppi. Could this be a new iPhone SE? If it is, it’s no longer based on the screen size as well as price as the original iPhone SE was, but instead will entirely be about the lower-tier cost and spec.

Kuo asserts that the two OLED phones will indeed have the same internal specs and these will be premium-grade – essentially these are the flagship models. The third model will be lower specced and pegged as an “entry level” iPhone, with an expected RRP in the region of $649-$749.

The analyst claims the 6.1-inch iPhone will not include 3D Touch, nor will it feature a dual-camera setup. Furthermore, the device will be based on an aluminium frame versus the stainless steel frame used inside the iPhone X and its successor models.

Kuo reckons the 6.1in “affordable” model will account for around 50% of Apple’s new iPhone sales in 2018/19, though he does not know what the handset will be called yet.

However, that’s just one of several theories. There are also plenty of other rumours about the second-coming of the iPhone SE. According to these sources, the phone will apparently be based on iPhone 7 specifications, feature a 4in display, and come in two storage versions; 32GB and 128GB.

Another report is similar, though not identical, to Kuo’s allegations about Apple’s plans.

According to this line of thinking, Apple will introduce an iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Plus as successor models to the iPhone X, reinstating the “s” iteration update moniker. In addition, there will be a “budget” model (relatively speaking, expect it to still be pricey) dubbed the iPhone 9.

The report also says they will ALL feature Face ID.

It’s thought that while the iPhone Xs models will have edge-to-edge OLED displays, the iPhone 9 will also be edge-to-edge, but with an LCD panel.

DigiTimes senior analyst, Luke Lin, has also published his own findings on the subject of 2018’s iPhone line-up and they flip the previous suggestions completely on their head. According to Lin, the direct successor of the iPhone X will be the “cheapest” model. It’ll keep an OLED display and will be more or less the same size at around 5.8in.

Lin says there will be a larger and slightly more expensive model, with a 6.1in display, however, curiously it’ll feature LCD screen tech instead of OLED, but it may also pack more RAM.

He claims the  most expensive of the three new devices will also feature an OLED screen though, it’ll measure 6.45in on the diagonal and the presence or absence of a display notch isn’t mentioned at all.

Apple iPhone SE 2018: Wrap Up

At this point, nothing is certain, but the overwhelming body of evidence says we’ll see at least three iPhone handsets this year (possibly four) and at least one of them will be an “entry-level” model with a lower price point. It also seems almost unanimous that this phone will feature an LCD display.

What remains uncertain is what it will be called and whether it will be true successor to the iPhone SE in terms of size – a lot of details point to it actually being one of Apple’s bigger handsets with a 6in or bigger screen, making it anything but an iPhone “Mini” to appeal to that crowd of 4in display fans that lapped up the original iPhone SE.

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