Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

How Apple Intelligence can make the iPhone SE 4 an even bigger nightmare for Android

Published Jul 4th, 2024 6:50AM EDT
iPhone 14 Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

With every iPhone SE 4 rumor that popped up, I told you the new budget iPhone Apple is working on will be an exciting upgrade. Priced at around $500, the iPhone SE 4 will look like the iPhone 14 with a notch. But it will feature a processor that’s at least as good as the iPhone 14 Pro/Max and the iPhone 15/Plus, according to leaks that preceded the WWDC 2024 event. That’s potentially an incredible device that many people will find attractive despite not rocking all the bells and whistles of the iPhone 16.

I mention WWDC because the keynote changed everything about how you buy new iPhones. As much as Apple would want to have as many iOS 18 features run on older devices as possible, the Apple Intelligence suite of AI apps and the smarter Siri will need an iPhone 15 Pro or better.

Right then and there, I started wondering whether the iPhone SE 4 would get the Apple Intelligence treatment. A new leak seems to indicate that might be the case. If true, Apple Intelligence could give the iPhone SE 4 a big specs boost, one that Apple may not have necessarily considered initially. It also might make Apple’s entry-level iPhone an even bigger nightmare for Android.

Apple Intelligence requires a fast Neural Engine and at least 8GB of RAM on an iPhone. Apple confirmed as much after WWDC. That’s why my iPhone 14 Pro, which isn’t even two years old, can’t run Apple Intelligence once it’s available. I’ll have to upgrade to an iPhone 16 variant this fall to get Apple’s AI working on my handset.

A leak from Taiwan earlier this week said that Apple will equip the iPhone 16 series with two processors, the A18 and A18 Pro. Then, findings in Apple code surfaced identifiers for the next-gen iPhones that seem to confirm all iPhone 16 units will get A18 chip flavors. That is, the A17 Pro won’t be recycled for the iPhone 16 and 16 Plus. Or, if it is, it’ll get a rebrand.

But the leaked identifiers indicated a fifth iPhone might get one of the A18 chip. The only possible explanation seems to be that Apple will give the iPhone SE 4 a big specs upgrade.

Apple Intelligence running on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Apple Intelligence running on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Image source: Apple Inc.

Like I said earlier, previous rumors said that the iPhone SE 4 would rock an A16 Bionic chip paired with 6GB of RAM. That would have made the iPhone SE 4 just as powerful as the iPhone 14 Pro/Max and the iPhone 15/Plus.

However, if Apple goes that route, it’ll have to sell the iPhone SE 4 as a brand new iPhone that can’t do Apple Intelligence. That would be a huge marketing mistake, considering that Apple Intelligence will probably grow to become Apple’s most important software upgrade for all of Apple’s devices.

The iPhone SE 4 would be a perfect first device for teenagers and older adults who still struggle with smartphones. It could also convince Android users to switch, especially if they tend to buy budget devices. Some of these Apple customers would certainly want to use Apple Intelligence at some point down the road.

It would be better to give the iPhone SE 4 the cheapest possible A18 variant, coupled with 8GB of RAM, and ensure it can run Apple Intelligence. Sure, it could be problematic for that rumored $500 price point. However, the report from Taiwan said that TSMC will not raise prices for the A18 chip.

Not to mention that Apple could always take a risk and offer an Apple Intelligence-ready iPhone SE 4 to buyers, hoping to see more people buy an iPhone and stay loyal to the handset. In the process, they’d spend more money on Apple services.

The iPhone SE 4 won’t hit stores until next spring at the earliest. Apple certainly has time to make the necessary specs changes to ensure the device is ready for Apple Intelligence.

Apple could then brag that all its new iPhones are ready to offer Apple Intelligence via iOS 18. Moreover, the iPhone SE 4 could continue to support Apple AI in iOS 19 and later releases.

Also, let’s not forget that Apple will compete with the Pixel 8a and other mid-range Android phones. Some of them, especially Google’s Pixels, will get AI features despite being budget devices. The iPhone SE 4 has to be able to compete with that.

All of that is speculation from this longtime iPhone user. We’ll have to wait longer to see what the A18 chips are all about. Also, I expect the iPhone SE 4 to keep leaking ahead of its 2025 launch, so we’ll know whether it can run Apple Intelligence or not before Apple announces it.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.