iPhone SE: Every spec, rumor and the expected launch date

All the latest, hottest rumors about a potential successor to the 2020 "iPhone SE."

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
Expertise Huawei | Oppo | Smartphones | Smartwatches Credentials
  • More than a decade of journalism experience
Sareena Dayaram
4 min read

The 2020 iPhone SE is widely speculated to be modeled after the iPhone 8 (pictured above), but with upgraded internals.

Eric Franklin/CNET

Update, April 22: Read our iPhone SE 2020 review. Original story follows.

Apple has finally revealed a new iPhone SE for 2020. The phone starts at $399 and will be available for preorder starting April 24. 

But keeping in mind that since the world is in the midst of a pandemic, the launch date and its rumored April 22 shipment date could change. Apple -- along with the broader smartphone and consumer electronics industry --  have been grappling with widespread supply-chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus which has already forced Apple to lower its quarterly revenue guidance and shutdown stores in the US and China. Despite this, phone manufacturers still plan to launch plenty of new phones in 2020. Until Apple's spring launch takes place, however, we'll continue to gather the most credible and compelling rumors that have been circulating to give you an idea of what to expect from it.

turwThe 2020 iPhone SE may launch at $399

Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the  2020 iPhone SE will cost $399 (likely £399 or AU$699) for the base variant. At this price, Apple may potentially lure budget-minded customers who aren't willing to splurge $1,000 or even $700 (on say, an iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11) into making an upgrade. This isn't the first time Apple targeted the "budget" segment of the smartphone market. The original iPhone SE launched at $399. At the time it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than its Apple-made contemporaries and ended up being a successful product for the company. As the global smartphone market shrinks and fewer consumers splurge on premium handsets, Apple knows the importance of offering a low-cost but high-quality phone shouldn't be overlooked -- especially if it wants to make further inroads into massive, price-sensitive countries like China and India.

The 2020 iPhone SE may feature the A13 bionic chip, up to 256GB storage

The upcoming iPhone SE, according to Kuo, is expected to be modeled after the iPhone 8 including having a home button, but with enhanced internals. It may have Apple's newest chipset, the A13 processor, which is the same one found in the iPhone 11 series, and come with 3GB RAM. The 2020 iPhone SE will come in three storage variants, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB, according to a 9to5Mac report. The report also says it'll also come in white, black and red color options, along with five different official cases including black silicone, white silicone and red leather.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in photos: More glass, more durable

See all photos

The iPhone SE may have a smallish LCD display with Touch ID 

It looks like the expected 4.7-inch screen of the iPhone SE will be as small as Apple is willing to go for now. That's larger than the original SE, which had a 4-inch display. Like the iPhone 8, the device is expected to sport an LCD display instead of an OLED screen in order to drive down costs, Nikkei Asian Review reported in September. OLED displays, which offer blacker blacks and higher contrasts, are typically found on higher-end phones like the iPhone XS Max and iPhone 11 Pro. 

Along with a smallish screen, Touch ID could make a comeback in the new iPhone SE, which is rumored to have a physical home button that would enable the biometric feature. That's as opposed to Face ID, which uses facial scanning and is featured in current iPhone models. Apple's new phone will also be compatible with Apple Pay and the Express Transit for automatic ticketing on public transport, according leaked iOS 14 code that was seen by to 9to5 Mac. The code reportedly reveals it'll also be able to scan NFC tags in the background, which is something the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and the iPhone 11 are capable of doing.  

Apple's glassy iPhone 8 is all glossed up

See all photos

The device could have a single rear camera 

Since the iPhone SE is expected to be modeled after the iPhone 8, right down to its thick bezels and Touch ID fingerprint scanner, we also expect a single 12-megapixel camera to make an appearance on the rear in order to keep costs low.

The 2020 iPhone SE is expected to launch "imminently"

Rumours of the iPhone SE's 2020 launch have been changing rapidly ahead of its expected launch. A 9to5Mac report published on Thursday, April 2 suggested that the iPhone SE would be launched as early as Friday, April 3. Other rumours point to an on April 15 launch date with an April 22 shipment date.  However, the coronavirus pandemic has added an extra layer of uncertainty as to whether a launch will still happen, as speculated, in the month of April. 

A more expensive sibling could be in the works: The iPhone SE 2 Plus or iPhone 9 Plus?

Even though the 2020 iPhone SE hasn't been announced yet, in the Apple universe it's never too early to talk about upcoming iPhones. There's already buzz of a slightly more expensive sibling set for launch either in 2021 or even as early as this April 15. Either way, it will still be positioned as a lower-cost phone that'll reportedly cost $499 (likely £499 or AU$899). According to MacRumors, citing Kuo, it'll be called the iPhone SE 2 Plus and will feature a 5.5- or 6.1-inch LCD display. The phone will apparently also have an updated form of Touch ID that would be integrated into the power button. Other rumors, however, say it'll be known as the iPhone 9 Plus.

Watch this: Why Apple needs the iPhone 9, aka SE 2