iPhone SE 2: Rumored specs, features, leaks, price, release date

Apple might release a sequel to its scrappy iPhone SE "budget" phone during its Sept. 12 event. Here's what we know.

Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La
4 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

It's official -- Apple's fall event this year is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 12 and the company is expected to reveal a whole new lineup of iPhones.

One of these iPhones is expected to be the iPhone SE 2. Originally 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 .

Watch this: Apple confirms 2018 iPhone event for Sept. 12

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 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 eventually. The original model debuted in Spring, and Apple announced a refresh in March 2017 with better storage options (from 16 and 64GB to 32 and 128GB). That being said, it wouldn't be surprising if it popped up sometime between now and Spring of next year. That's why we're expecting to hear about the iPhone SE 2 during Apple's Sept. 12 iPhone event.

Because the company has kept mum about a possible sequel, the rumor mill is tossing around some speculation. Below are some of the most appealing rumors that are circulating so far. This is an ongoing roundup, so check back often as we update this piece when new stories pop up. And for more on what we believe Apple will unveil, check out everything Apple is expected to announce soon

The iPhone SE 2 might be an updated iPhone 7

As first reported by 9to5Mac, a reference to three "iPhone xx" phones may hint at an updated iPhone SE. Three items under Apple's XCode development app list these unnamed "xx" iPhones, one of which includes an A10 processor, no FaceID feature and (unlike what other rumors below have speculated) no notch. Because the A10 processor was used in 2016's iPhone 7, these lower-tiered specs could point toward an updated iPhone SE 2.

iPhone SE (2016) is the iPhone Mini

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The iPhone may (or may not?) have wireless charging

In January, 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." A more recent August report from Bloomberg also corroborates the rumor of three new iPhones that won't likely look dramatically different.

Watch this: 5 best Apple iPhone SE 2 rumors

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 maybe an A11 Fusion CPU found on the iPhone 8 , in place of the 2015-era A9 chip that debuted on the iPhone 6S . And at the same entry-level price, Kuo also doesn't expect features like 3D Touch or wireless charging to be added. 

As a counterpoint, mobile leaker Ben Geskin predicted in April that the iPhone will have wireless charging based on his own sources, and that it will adopt a glass backing to accommodate this feature. 

The iPhone SE 2 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.

It might actually be the iPhone X SE with a notch

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 home-button-lacking phone with an iPhone 8-sized 4.7-inch screen squeezed into the current SE-sized body.


Could the next iPhone SE get a notch like the iPhone X?

Josh Miller/CNET

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.

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. 

Editors' note, Aug. 30: This article was originally published March 22, 2018 and is continuously updated with new rumors and when a rumor is proven false.