The second-gen iPhone SE (2020) was among our favourite phones of 2020. It hit the Indian market in Q2 2020, just after the first Covid lockdown. That SE featured the same design as the iPhone 8 that was released in 2017 but it was powered by the A13 Bionic processor used in the iPhone 11 trio. At a time when people were looking to save cash, the iPhone SE was the perfect entry-level iPhone experience with a zippy processor. For me, it was a refreshing change to go back to a lighter iPhone that brought with it the simple joys of one-handed navigation. While some rumours suggested a follow-up iPhone SE in 2021, it didn’t happen. The rumour mills and leak factories are now back in action with enough evidence to suggest that the third-gen iPhone SE will keep its date in H1 2022.

iPhone SE (2020)
The red variant was our favourite in the iPhone SE (2020) line-up.


The buzz: One of the first sparks for the rumour mill was Mac Rumors’ report that Apple had pulled the 256GB variant from its online store soon after the iPhone 13 launch event in September. Currently, you can only buy the 64GB or 128GB versions of the iPhone SE from the India store. This suggested that Apple was scaling down production of the 2020 iPhone SE with a focus on the upcoming iPhone SE. Then there was the report from market intelligence firm TrendForce in November 2021 that suggested that the third-generation iPhone SE is expected to be instrumental in helping Apple establish a presence in the mid-range 5G smartphones market segment. Its production volume for 2022 is forecasted to reach 25-30 million units.

Same retro design: Most renders suggest that we could see the same retro design as the iPhone SE (2020) that is borrowed from the iPhone 8 with curved edges. Display analyst Ross Young tweeted that the device could feature the same 4.7-inch LCD display as the iPhone 8 but may be called the iPhone SE Plus. He added the iPhone SE3 with a 5.7-6.1-inch LCD display could be pushed to 2024. David Kowalski of @xleaks7 shared a render provided by TenTechReview that reveals a blend of an iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 8. It shows a single rear lens but also features a notch that suggests the iPhone SE 3 will feature FaceID. Most rumours like the Japanese platform Macotakara confirm that the new SE 3 will come with 5G support and be powered by the A15 bionic processor.

An H1 launch looks imminent: Mark Gurman’s Power On newsletter published in Bloomberg this month has indicated that the new budget iPhone could be part of Apple’s big first product showcase in March or April. Ross Young’s tweet points to an Apple 5G SE model starting panel production in January 2022, with a launch scheduled for late April or early May.

While many bargain hunters in India have found good deals on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini during some of the recent online sales, the iPhone SE (2022) could still be a key device for Apple in markets like India as it makes a serious play for first-time iPhone buyers. The iPhone SE (2020) launched at an effective price of just under Rs 40,000 with cashback offers. We should know by April if the iPhone SE 3 will land in the same price band.