Apple may be working on a new, lower-cost iPhone SE 2 with some of the same features as the current iPhone 11, such as the A13 Bionic chip. In this week's Apple Core roundup, we take a look at the latest rumors about the spiritual successor to the iPhone SE and dissect a new patent that shows a new Apple smart ring concept.
Welcome back, iPhone SE
Today's phones seem big and bulky compared to the compact iPhone SE that first made its debut back in 2016. Looking just like the iPhone 4 and 5 that came before it, the iPhone SE packed many key iPhone features like Apple Pay (and a headphone jack) in a smaller handset. Plus, it was cheap.
Long-time Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says there could be a new iPhone SE 2 on the way for release in the first quarter of 2020. Kuo says it will look more like the iPhone 8, rather than share the square, machined design of the original iPhone SE.
That means the new phone would potentially have a 4.7-inch display (bigger than the original iPhone SE's 4-inch screen) and a home button, but no FaceID. It could also have a single rear camera, rather than the same dual-camera design that's on the iPhone 11.
As for internals, Kuo predicts the phone will use the latest A13 Bionic chip with 3GB of RAM, plus a 64GB or 128GB storage option. Colors could be simpler than the iPhone 11 with space gray, silver and red.
None of these internals are new to Apple phones, which is exactly the point: This could keep the cost lower than the current iPhone 8, which is the cheapest "new" iPhone, at US$449. An iPhone that hits the magic US$399 price also could help compete with less-expensive Android phones like the Pixel 3A and entice those upgrading from older phones, such as the iPhone 6, to stick with the iPhone when it's time to upgrade. The iPhone 6 and older won't receive updates to iOS 13.
For countries outside the US such as India, having a less-expensive iPhone is crucial. In figures released by analytics firm Counterpoint Research, in the first quarter of 2018 only 4% of the market in India was made up of so-called premium phones -- phones with a price over US$450. It makes sense to have a lower-cost phone to help compete with other Android offerings like the OnePlus 7T and Samsung Galaxy A50.
Apple may be working on … a smart ring?
Add a smart ring to the list of rumored Apple devices that have yet to see the light of day (such as the AR glasses or the Bluetooth tracker).
This week, Apple Insider discovered a patent showing a ring that could potentially offer a lot of what the Apple Watch does, but on your finger. This was originally filed back in 2015, but was only recently granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The diagram in the patent shows the ring could have a touchscreen, processor, wireless transceiver, microphone and sensors to detect hand gestures. Some of those gestures include swiping or flicking to adjust menu settings and pointing to open a link.
A smart ring may have felt like science fiction in 2015 when this patent was originally filed, but fast-forward to 2019 and it doesn't seem all that far-fetched. The $130 Amazon Echo Loop, announced a few weeks ago, has a microphone so you can talk to your assistant, a tiny speaker, plus an action button.