iPhone SE 3: here's everything we know so far

We're likely to see an iPhone SE 3  come out at some point, as it's a phone convention Apple seems to be continuing with, and reports suggest it could arrive as soon as early 2022.

Whenever it comes out, the iPhone SE 3 probably won't be called that, and it'll likely follow the iPhone SE (2020)'s naming convention with the year of release in the title, so perhaps we'll actually see the iPhone SE (2022). Then again, a recent leak suggests it could actually be called the iPhone SE Plus 5G.

The iPhone SE (2020) was one of the most exciting iPhones of 2020, providing excellent Apple hardware and software in a compact size and at a relatively low price. So how can Apple top that?

Easy – add some of the features from the flagships to the next mid-range iPhone SE. The iPhone 13 series launched with a few new features and tech, and while the iPhone SE 3 wasn't announced alongside the next range of flagship iPhones, perhaps the most exciting perks in those devices might trickle down to the mid-range iPhone SE line too.

The iPhone SE 3 is, as the name suggests, the third-gen model in its line, following the aforementioned 2020 device and the original 2016 model. That age gap could suggest we'll be waiting years until the iPhone SE 3, but the 2020 version was so well received, we don't imagine we'll be waiting that long, especially as rumors point to a 2022 launch.

Latest news

We weren't expecting the iPhone SE 3 until April or May 2022, but according to Bloomberg the device will be unveiled alongside the iPad Air 5 on Tuesday, March 8.

iPhone SE 3: cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next affordable iPhone
  • When is it out? The latest leak says March 8
  • How much will it cost? Likely around $399 / £419 / AU$749

iPhone SE 3 release date and price

We thought the iPhone SE 3 might land at Apple's Spring Loaded event in April 2021 - after all, that would be a year after the iPhone SE (2020) launched, but it was a no-show. Nor did it appear at the iPhone 13 launch in September.

We're not too surprised though, as we'd previously seen a couple of leaks and rumors suggesting that there wouldn’t be an iPhone SE 3 in 2021, perhaps to give the iPhone 13 mini more time in the spotlight.

But there may well be one in 2022 at least, because it's also rumored that there won't be an iPhone 14 mini - meaning Apple might rely on the SE line for fans of smaller phones.

At this point, all the rumors point to a 2022 release, with sources suggesting the phone will land in the first half of the year, and one getting as specific as saying it will land before the end of March.

Other leaks have suggested March or April, sometime in 'spring' (meaning March to May in the US), or perhaps the second half of April or early May. The most recent and perhaps the most reliable rumor, however, suggests that the iPhone SE 3 will get its debut alongside the iPad Air on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

We've also seen an unannounced iPhone believed to be the iPhone SE 3 get certified by the Eurasian Economic Commission - something that typically happens close to launch.

Trial production is also apparently about to start (as of December 2021), further suggesting it's coming soon.

That said, we've elsewhere heard that the iPhone SE 3 might have been delayed until 2024, so there could be a long wait.

And there’s also the iPhone SE Plus to consider. This was rumored to land sometime after the iPhone SE (2020), and while we haven’t heard much about it lately, Ming-Chi Kuo (an analyst with a good track record when it comes to Apple) claimed back in April 2020 that the iPhone SE Plus might not land until 2022.

So this might land instead of the iPhone SE 3 – or maybe we’ll get an iPhone SE 3 and an iPhone SE 3 Plus. It's hard to say at this point.

As for the price, there’s no news there, but the iPhone SE (2020) starts at $399 / £419 / AU$749, so the iPhone SE 3 is likely to have a similar price – if not perhaps slightly higher.

The iPhone SE (2020) in red on a green background

The iPhone SE 3 might have a similar price to its predecessor (above) (Image credit: Future)

iPhone SE 3 news, leaks and rumors

The biggest iPhone SE 3 leak so far has revealed a number of the possible specs. 

Apparently the phone will have an A15 Bionic chipset (the same as in the iPhone 13 range) and support 5G, but might otherwise be similar to its predecessor, with the same bezel-heavy design and 4.7-inch LCD screen, while another leak says it will also have 3GB of RAM like its predecessor.

We've also previously heard that it might have a 4.7-inch LCD screen and 5G support, so those aspects are looking likely. More recently a third source has weighed in to say the A15 chip and 5G will be added, but the design and screen size won't change with the next refresh.

That said, another source claims that actually it will have a 5.7-6.1-inch LCD screen, while elsewhere we've heard that while it might stick with a 12MP camera, it could at least have a new sensor.

Elsewhere we've heard that Apple could bring Face ID to a future iPhone SE model. That would likely mean a substantial change to the design, with no more home button and a notch instead. However, given that the leaks above suggest a similar design for the iPhone SE 3, this change might be further out (if it happens at all).

In fact, one source said an iPhone 11-like design was on the cards but then backtracked and said that Apple had decided to stick with the iPhone 8-like look for 2022. The source also said that the company plans to use the iPhone 11-like look on the iPhone SE (2024).

Finally, we've also heard that this upcoming phone might actually be called the iPhone SE Plus 5G.

What we want to see

As good as the iPhone SE (2020) is, there’s always room for improvement, so here’s what we want from the iPhone SE 3.

1. A modern design

The iPhone SE (2020) has a rather old fashioned design, and certainly an older design than the rest of the current iPhone range. So we’d like to see things brought up to date for the iPhone SE 3.

By that we mean get rid of the home button and the big bezels above and below the screen, for a more modern look. Doing this would also allow Apple to increase the screen size without increasing the overall size of the handset - or alternatively keep the screen the same size and shrink the phone even smaller.

2. An OLED screen with a higher resolution

iPhone SE 2020

The SE (2020)'s screen doesn't overly impress (Image credit: Future)

The iPhone SE (2020) has an IPS LCD screen with a 750 x 1334 resolution, neither of which are exactly cutting edge.

Now, there are of course limits to what can be done with a mid-range phone, but when you consider that the similarly priced OnePlus Nord and Google Pixel 4a both manage a higher resolution and OLED technology (which typically delivers better contrast and other improvements versus LCD), it’s hard to see how Apple could justify omitting these things from the next iPhone SE model.

That said, we wouldn’t count on getting either – Apple rarely competes with Android phones on pure specs.

3. Better battery life

The iPhone SE (2020) has a small 1,821mAh, which might seem reasonable given the phone’s compact size, but we found it didn’t go far, lasting around a day.

That’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not impressive, so we’d like much more from the battery in the iPhone SE 3, whether that’s achieved through increasing the size or making things more efficient.

4. Keep it small and affordable

The iPhone SE (2020) stands out through both its small size and its relatively affordable price, and we want both of those things to remain for the iPhone SE 3.

There aren’t many compact phones anymore – certainly not ones with good specs, and nor are iPhones known for being affordable, so the two things make for a great combination.

5. More cameras

iPhone SE review

The iPhone SE (2020) has just one rear camera, which isn't really enough (Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPhone SE (2020) has just one camera on the back and one on the front, and while they perform reasonably well, they don’t give you the versatility that you can get with more lenses.

Of course, with even the iPhone 13 only having a dual-lens snapper we don’t expect too much more from the iPhone SE 3, but when you consider that rivals like the OnePlus Nord and Moto G 5G Plus have four cameras on the back and two on the front, you’d think an extra lens or two wouldn’t be too much to ask for.

6. 5G

Apple has now embraced 5G on its flagship range, and we really hope the company lets the tech filter down to the iPhone SE 3, as it’s already available on some of the SE (2020)’s key rivals, notably the aforementioned OnePlus Nord and Moto G 5G Plus, among others.

7. A higher refresh rate

Another feature offered by a number of rivals now is a high refresh rate. The iPhone SE (2020) has a 60Hz refresh rate, which until relatively recently was what all handsets other than gaming phones offered, but now numerous mainstream phones have refresh rates of 90Hz or 120Hz.

It’s a feature that the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max offer, but we’re not optimistic that Apple will bring it to the iPhone SE 3, since it's only on Pro models so far, so Apple is likely to keep the tech as a premium feature for a while.

But it would be great if the company did start including this as a standard feature – it could still differentiate by giving its flagships a 120Hz (or higher) rate, and the iPhone SE 3 a refresh rate of 90Hz.

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