On the Possibilities of an iPhone SE 2

With March approaching, it’s possible we may see an iPhone SE 2 in the coming weeks.

The SE was announced in March 2016. It took the guts (more or less) of the iPhone 6S and squished them into the body (more or less) of the iPhone 5S.

The SE is a big hit in my house. I bought my wife an iPhone 6S for Christmas in 2015, but she never adjusted to liking the larger screen size. When the SE came out a few months later, she swapped back to the 4-inch form factor she had come to love with her iPhone 5S. At a full ounce lighter than the 6S, she can run with the SE much easier than a larger, heavier phone.

I don’t think the market for the iPhone SE is very big, but I bet it’s bigger than Apple thought it would be a couple of years ago. I know many SE users are devoted to having the most compact smartphone they can, and I think Apple should continue to serve that market.

In 2016, the SE didn’t lack much of what was found in high-end 6S. Besides the size and weight, here are the other features the 6S boasted over the SE:

  • Touch ID 2
  • 3D Touch
  • 5 megapixel FaceTime camera

The phones shared a processor, so performance was the same between the two. The iPhone SE was cheaper than the 6S, smaller and lighter, and almost as good.

If Apple really does have an SE 2 in the works, what should we expect from it?

I think the design and size would remain the same. The 5S design may have started life in 2013, but I view it like I viewed the full-sized iPod — the design is classic. Why change it?

The aluminum back means that wireless charging is off the table. A glass back would also add to the low weight of the phone, which is a nice feature of the SE.

I would expect to see a physical home button again, as the 4-inch chassis probably doesn’t have room for the Taptic Engine needed for the iPhone 7’s home button.1 Same goes for the headphone jack, which The Verge will be excited about.

Likewise, I don’t see 3D Touch making it into this smaller phone. I think that’s perfectly fine, though; Apple’s implementation of 3D Touch is still so scattershot I halfway think the company may be slowly backing away from it.

A big question is what iPhone’s specs would Apple borrow from to build the SE 2? Would it share a CPU and camera system with the iPhone 8, or would Apple look to preserve its margins and remix the iPhone 7?

As much as I’d like to see the SE 2 be powered by the A11 Bionic chipset at the heart of the 8, 8 Plus and X, I think Apple would cheap out here. However, if using the A10 Fusion chip from the iPhone 7 means the iPhone SE 2 can continue to cost just $349, I think it’d be just fine. Even if Apple recycles the iPhone 7 camera, it’d still be a nice upgrade from the current SE.

  1. Casey Clark had a good question about this: why not just ditch the home button altogether? I honestly don’t think Apple wants to do anything to the outside of the case, as any redesign would mean making the phone more expensive. In a way, I think the SE’s future is dependent on how little work Apple can do to keep it updated.