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iPhone SE 3 might help deliver Apple’s first $199 iPhone

Published Feb 28th, 2022 7:36PM EST
iPhone SE
Image: Apple

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The iPhone SE 3 should arrive in about a week during Apple’s first press conference of the year. That’s what rumors say, claiming that the iPhone maker will also unveil additional hardware alongside the new iPhone SE. The budget-friendly $399 iPhone SE 2 is already selling tremendously well, and it’s one of the best choices in this price range. But the iPhone SE 3 might help Apple give shoppers the very first $199 iPhone.

That’s an iPhone price we haven’t seen in years, ever since carriers dropped subsidies. At the time, the typical iPhone entry price was $199, but that wasn’t the real price of the handset. It’s what you had to pay upfront for the iPhone when inking a new two-year contract. But $199 would be the full price for the iPhone SE this time around, no contract required.

Why the mid-range iPhone is so exciting

We already explained that the $399 iPhone is a nightmare for Android phone makers. It’s one of the best-selling devices in this price range.

That’s because, unlike its Android counterparts, the iPhone SE offers flagship hardware and performance. The only thing keeping the iPhone SE 2 from doing more damage is the outdated iPhone design. The phone has a much smaller screen than a mid-range phone that’s not as powerful as the iPhone SE. But the specs do matter.

When the iPhone SE launched in 2020, the handset featured the same chip as all the current-gen iPhone 11 models. As we saw recently, the old iPhone 11 outperforms the brand new Galaxy S22 in benchmark tests. The iPhone SE 3 that Apple will unveil in a few days will feature the A15 chip that powers the iPhone 13 series.

Unlike previous iPhone SE models, the iPhone SE 3 will also deliver 5G connectivity. That makes that $399 entry price even more exciting than before.

But how do you get from there to a $199 iPhone SE 3? It’s complicated.

Apple won’t set the iPhone SE 3 price as slow as $199. The likeliest starting price is $399, just like the current model. Apple kept the iPhone 12 pricing structure in place for the iPhone 13, so we expect the same strategy for the next-gen iPhone SE. But there is speculation that Apple might do things differently.

iPhone 11 Pro
Apps on the home screen of an iPhone 11 Pro smartphone. Image source: Zach Epstein for BGR

The $199 iPhone SE deal

First of all, Loop Capital Markets analyst John Donovan said he has heard rumors that the iPhone SE could start at $300. If that were the case, buyers would get a $299 starting price for the newest iPhone SE version.

That’s where Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman comes in. He made a case in his Power On newsletter that Apple should still keep selling the iPhone SE 2 once the third-gen model arrives. Apple could sell the 2020 version for $199, while the newer model starts at $299 or even $399.

Apple would not profit from selling the $199 iPhone SE, with Gurman suggesting a different avenue to profits. The cheaper handset could bring more users to iOS and the ecosystem of digital products that Apple sells. This would drive up revenue for Apple services. Moreover, iPhone users might purchase other Apple devices that work with the iPhone, like AirPods or Apple Watch.

Keeping the iPhone SE 2 in its lineup alongside an iPhone SE 3 with the same design would make sense. Apple still sells the iPhone 11 in stores, which starts at $499 for the 64GB version. Again, this would-be $199 iPhone SE 2 is practically an iPhone 11 inside the body of an iPhone 8.

That said, we’re only looking at speculation at this time. Apple should unveil the iPhone SE 3 on March 8th. That’s when we’ll learn exactly how much Apple will charge for the handset and whether the iPhone SE 2 will stay in the company’s lineup.

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.

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