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iPhone SE 4’s new design has been staring us in the face all along

Updated Dec 21st, 2022 1:06PM EST
iPhone SE 3 color options.
Image: Apple Inc.

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The iPhone SE 4 will reportedly deliver a significant design upgrade, which could turn the handset into Android’s worst nightmare. Imagine a smartphone with the A16 Bionic chip inside an all-screen body like the iPhone 13. Priced at under $500, this device would be a dream for so many smartphone users.

Even without the rumors, the iPhone SE 4’s big redesign should have been crystal clear. It’s been staring us in the face for a while, considering that the design is the iPhone SE 3’s biggest problem.

During the iPhone 14 rumor season, I wondered what would happen to the $499 iPhone 11 once the $799 iPhone 14 arrived. I noted at the time that the handset would have cost $399 after the iPhone 14 launch. That assumed Apple wanted to keep it in its roster. But that would have made it even more affordable than the $429 iPhone SE 3, so there was no way it was going to happen.

Then Apple confirmed my hunch that the $399 iPhone 11 couldn’t stay in its lineup. But the iPhone 11 is still a great bargain. That’s if you can find a new one from carriers and electronics retailers. And a great device to buy your mom, dad, or teenage kid.

In the past few months, we saw a bunch of rumors saying the iPhone SE 4 will inherit the iPhone XR design. The iPhone XR design is something Apple introduced in 2018 and then reused for the iPhone 11. It’s an all-screen iPhone with a 6.1-inch LCD and a notch. The iPhone 11 was the last all-screen iPhone with an LCD screen before moving its entire lineup to OLED, other than the SE.

iPhone SE 4 render
iPhone SE 4 render Image source: Jon Prosser and Ian Zelbo

The iPhone SE 3 has a 4.7-inch LCD and a traditional design. That means it has huge top and bottom bezels and a home button with Touch ID. The bezels aren’t that appealing in a world where all other $400 Android phones feature large hole-punch screens.

Still, the classic iPhone design has fans among people who don’t want to let go of Touch ID. And the iPhone SE 2 sold tremendously well. Add an all-screen design and the newest iPhone chip, and the iPhone SE 4 will be a game-changer for mid-range devices.

Keeping Touch ID within the side button would be the cherry on top. But that’s not confirmed at this point.

The more one speculates on the iPhone SE 4 design and specs, the clearer it is that recycling the iPhone XR/11 design is the no-brainer move that Apple should pull off. And there’s no reason not to try it, especially in this economy.

Still, we’ll have to wait until March or April 2023 to receive any official confirmation from Apple. That’s when the iPhone SE 4 should launch, considering Apple’s release pattern for its mid-range handsets.

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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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