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iPhone SE 2: Rumored specs, price, release date

Apple might release a sequel to its scrappy iPhone SE "budget" phone. Here's what we know.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Launched in 2016, Apple's iPhone SE served as the smaller, more pocketable member of the iPhone family. It had a 4-inch display and looked similar to 2013's iPhone 5S. Despite being the more "midrange" iPhone at the time and lacking powerful hardware, the SE ranked highest in smartphone customer satisfaction. Two years later, and with no appearance at Apple's latest March event in Chicago, the phone is overdue for an update. An EEC regulatory filing from Apple in April gives hope that an iPhone SE 2 may be coming down the pipeline. On top of that, the original model debuted in Spring, and it was refreshed this time last year with better storage options (from 16 and 64GB to 32 and 128GB). So it wouldn't be surprising to see it pop up sometime between now and the middle of the year. But because Apple has kept mum about a possible sequel, the rumor mill is tossing around some speculation. Below are some of the most appealing rumors that have circulated so far. This is an ongoing roundup, so check back often as we update this piece when new stories pop up.

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Apple likely won't change the iPhone SE 2... much

Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a memo that Apple will likely not revamp the iPhone SE too much with a new model, since it'll be so busy unveiling three different iPhone X-style phones and will probably not have "enough spare resources."

If true, that means the updated phone would simply get a "specs upgrade" -- probably adding the better camera (with optical image stabilization and quad-tone flash) and A11 Fusion CPU found on the iPhone 8, in place of the 2015-era A9 chip that debuted on the iPhone 6S.

At the same entry-level price, don't expect either 3D Touch or wireless charging to be added, though.

iphone-se-30.jpg

The iPhone SE.

Sarah Tew/CNET

...But it might not have a headphone jack either

Following the footsteps of the iPhone 7 and the models after it, the iPhone SE 2 is rumored to ditch the headphone jack. This info comes from the Japanese news site Macotakara, which quoted case makers at a phone show who reportedly saw the phone. According to them, the SE 2 looks similar to the original, except for the fact that it has no headphone jack. Bummer.

The iPhone SE 2 might come in June or July

Back in November, a Chinese news outlet predicted that the iPhone SE 2 will launch in July 2018. It also reported that it will cost the same as the original SE when it launched, which started at $399, £359 and AU$679. Apple could also fold in the announcement of a slightly revamped iPhone SE at its WWDC developers conference on June 4.

It might actually be the iPhone X SE with a notch

So Apple is purportedly working on three different iPhone X-style phones, one of which is said to be a fancy, spruced up iPhone X SE, according to Macotakara. In other words, imagine a no home-button phone with an iPhone 8-sized 4.7-inch screen squeezed into the current SE-sized body.

Whether or not this is the same iPhone SE 2 everyone is already speculating about is unclear. Apple could be launching two separate iPhone SE phones, one with a classic iPhone design and another that looks similar to the current iPhone X. Accessory maker, Olixar, reportedly shared schematics from "Chinese factory sources" with 9toMac and said "it believes the new iPhone SE will resemble an iPhone X with slim bezels and a notch cutout."

It's also possible Apple could be intentionally confusing everyone and the iPhone X SE and SE 2 are the same phone. But we'd call this one a long shot -- at least at the entry-level price range.

Editors' note: This article was originally published March 22 2018 and has since been updated with new rumors.