News: iPhone SE 2 or iPhone 9? Everything We Know About Apple's Upcoming Budget Device

iPhone SE 2 or iPhone 9? Everything We Know About Apple's Upcoming Budget Device

The iPhone SE was, for some, the perfect iPhone. It brought back the popular one-handed form factor of the iPhone 5 but packed in the internals of the then-new iPhone 6S. Since then, many have pined for a new SE, looking for something just as fast as modern iPhones, but much, much smaller.

There have been plenty of rumors over the years indicating Apple is indeed working on an iPhone SE 2 model. However, many stories indicated it would appear in early 2018 or at WWDC 2018. Neither happened, of course, but new rumors make a strong case for a 2020 SE 2 unveiling. For those with a tighter budget (or smaller hands), the iPhone SE 2 could be the perfect replacement for your current phone.

Jump to a section: Names | Dates | Storage | Prices | Body | Basics | Display | Performance | Battery | Cameras | Audio | Sensors | Connectivity | Security | Software | In the Box

Names

Apple's naming scheme has lost its predictability in recent years. That said, even a predictable Apple wouldn't make guessing the name that easy since this isn't a proper "new iPhone."

The upcoming iPhone has been rumored to exist for a long time now. For a chunk of that time, the rumors pointed to "SE 2" as a working name, which made sense for an iPhone SE successor. In fact, it's the name noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo uses in reports about the device.

That said, one rumor from Mac Otakara claims the device will be called the iPhone 9. That number choice might seem confusing, considering the iPhone 11 came out last year and the iPhone 12 is rumored to release in 2020. But the name could be fitting given that the iPhone 9 was skipped, the SE 2 would be a small step down from the iPhone X, XS, 11, and 12 offerings, and it's more likely to look like an iPhone 8 than the original SE model. (There are also rumors of an "SE 2 Plus" coming later that may or may not be taken seriously.)

Until we see more rumors, however, we'll stick to SE 2 when referring to the device.

  • iPhone SE 2 (but possibly iPhone 9)

Dates

So, when can we expect this thing to drop? If you follow iPhone releases closely, you might assume September 2020. However, rumors suggest the SE 2 will come out much sooner than that. We're expecting to see the new iPhone sometime in the spring. We just don't exact dates at this time. And since the original iPhone SE was released in March 2016, a March or April date is looking pretty good.

  • Announcement date: Spring 2020
  • Preorder date: Spring 2020
  • Release date: Spring 2020

Storage

Kuo claims Apple is going to release the SE 2 in two storage variants — 64 GB and 128 GB. The latter is an interesting choice for Apple since the 2019 iPhones don't offer that storage size. Instead, they jump from 64 GB to 256 GB, offering 512 GB as well.

  • Storage available: likely 64 GB and 128 GB
  • Expandable storage: no

Prices

Other than the form factor (more on that below), the main reason to spring for the iPhone SE 2 is the price. Rumors suggest the iPhone will qualify as a budget device, starting at $399. If Apple offers more storage variants, that price will go up, but by how much is unclear. Apple currently charges $150 for the next storage tier for the 2019 iPhones, but that's a big jump from 64 GB to 256 GB. If Apple offers a 128 GB option, it would be more like $100 higher.

  • iPhone SE 2 Price: likely $399 and $449–$499
  • AppleCare+: likely $199 or $299 (or $9.99 or $14.99 each month)

Body

We don't know much about the actual body of the SE 2, other than the colors. Kuo expects Apple to release three colors for the budget iPhone — space gray, silver, and red. While Kuo doesn't say, we assume the red one will be a PRODUCT(RED) variant, as all other red iPhones are.

As for the materials the SE 2 is made out of? OnLeaks recently released renders showing off a shiny frame (although not specifying the material) and a frosted glass back similar to the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. If Apple includes wireless charging with the SE 2, the back would then need to be glass. OnLeaks also shows that the Apple logo will be moved to the middle of the SE 2's back, just like the 2019 iPhones.

  • Frame: likely aluminum, possibly stainless steel
  • Back: maybe a frosted glass
  • Finish: likely space gray, silver, and red
Image by iGeeksBlog/YouTube

Basics

For the longest time, we thought the SE 2 would resemble the iPhone SE in form factor. Now we know it will most likely copy the iPhone 6, 6S, 7, and 8 design. Sorry, 4-inch iPhone fans — the iPhone 5 design appears to be dead as a doornail.

That means the device's height, width, and depth should be pretty close to those four older devices. OnLeaks shared SE 2 dimensions that almost perfectly line up with the iPhone 8. The weight, however, could differ. Unknown factors like device materials could have an impact on how heavy the iPhone is, so we can't make a guess there at this time.

We'd like to think that Apple would make the SE 2 IP68 water-resistant, but there are no rumors right now to confirm or deny that idea.

  • Height: possibly 138.5 mm
  • Width: possibly 67.4 mm
  • Depth: possibly 7.8 mm
  • Weight: unknown
  • Dust/water resistance: possibly IP68 under IEC standard 60529
  • Mobile network operators: likely AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon

The environmental operating requirements for all iPhone models have remained unchanged since first established on the iPhone 7, so it's highly unlikely that any of the below data will be different for the SE 2.

  • Operating temp: 32° to 95° F
  • Nonoperating temp: -4° to 113° F
  • Relative humidity: 5–95% noncondensing
  • Operating altitude: up to 10,000 feet (though could be more)

Display

Because we know the SE 2 is following an iPhone 8-like design, we know the display should be 4.7 inches. According to The Elec, LG is possibly supplying LCDs for the SE 2, which shouldn't come as a shock. If you were expecting an OLED display in a $399 iPhone, think again.

While that's all the rumors provide in the display category, we can work off the iPhone 8 specs to fill in a few more blanks. We expect the SE 2's display to measure 1,334-by-750 pixels, with a pixel density of 326 ppi. These iPhones don't have the sharpest displays on the market, but 326 ppi in a 4.7" screen isn't a bad experience by any means.

We aren't sure if Apple would include HDR in the SE 2, but we could see the display reach 625 nits of brightness if Apple keeps things the same from the iPhone 8. And we do not expect Apple to include a variable refresh rate of 120 Hz, as is rumored for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.

Image by iGeeksBlog/YouTube

We also don't expect Apple to bring back 3D Touch. It's long presses from here on out.

  • Screen size: 4.7 inches
  • Screen resolution: likely 1,334 x 750 pixels
  • Pixel density: likely 326 ppi
  • Screen type: likely LCD
  • HDR: unknown
  • Notch: no
  • Screen-to-body ratio: likely 65.4%
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Minimum brightness: unknown
  • Maximum brightness: possibly 625 nits
  • Refresh rate: 60 Hz
  • Color temperature: unknown
  • 3D Touch: likely no

Performance

What does $399 get you in terms of performance? Well, apparently a lot. Kuo believes Apple will stuff its A13 chip inside the SE 2, the same chip you find on the 2019 suite of iPhones. That, coupled with the rumored 3 GB of RAM, should add up to an iPhone that performs well for years to come. All for $399.

  • Memory: likely 3 GB RAM
  • Processor: likely Apple A13
  • Chip size: likely 7 nanometer
  • Coprocessor: unknown
  • CPU frequency: unknown
  • CPU cores: unknown
  • GPU: Apple-designed (unknown model)
  • GPU cores: unknown

Battery

Battery rumors for the SE 2 are pretty dry at the moment. If we pretend Apple's keeping things the same from the iPhone 8, expect an 1,821 mAh battery powering that A13 chip. However, there may be a small bump up.

We also don't expect Apple to include an 18-watt power adapter in the box, even though the SE 2 could be compatible with fast charging. Why? Well, the iPhone 11 still comes with a 5-watt charger, and that device will cost more than twice the SE 2 when it launches.

  • Battery: likely rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Capacity: possibly 1,821 mAh
  • Wireless charging: unknown
  • Charging port: likely Lightning
  • Wired charging: likely yes, USB PD (5-watt)

Cameras

The only thing we know about the SE 2's rear camera is that there will be one of them. That's it. Does it do Portrait Mode? We don't know. Will it be better than the iPhone 8's camera? We don't know. We can also guess that Apple will include a selfie camera, but, again, there's nothing to go off of in terms of specs.

Image by iGeeksBlog/YouTube

Front Camera

  • Resolution (Photos): likely at least 7 MP
  • Resolution (Videos): likely 1080p
  • Max frame rate: likely 30 fps for 1080p
  • Slow motion: likely no
  • Aperture: likely at least ƒ/2.2
  • Zoom: unknown
  • Flash: likely screen-based
  • Image stabilization: likely software-based
  • RAW support: likely no
  • Object detection: likely bodies, faces

Rear Camera (Photos)

  • Resolution: likely at least 12 MP
  • Aperture: likely at least ƒ/1.8
  • Zoom: likely at least 10x digital
  • Flash: likely Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync
  • Image stabilization: optical
  • Time of Flight lens: no
  • RAW support: likely yes
  • Lens cover: likely sapphire crystal
  • Object detection: likely bodies, faces
  • Formats: likely HEIF, JPEG, RAW
  • HDR: likely HDR

Rear Camera (Videos)

  • Resolution: likely 720p, 1080p and 4K
  • Max frame rate: likely 30 fps for 720; 60 fps for 1080p and 4K
  • Slow motion: likely yes, 1080p at 120 or 240 fps
  • Time-lapse: likely yes, with stabilization
  • Photos: likely at least 8 MP stills while recording 4K
  • Zoom: likely at least 6x digital
  • Flash: likely Quad-LED True Tone flash
  • Image stabilization: optical
  • Lens cover: likely sapphire crystal
  • Object detection: likely bodies, faces
  • Audio: likely stereo sound
  • Formats: likely H.264, H.65 (HEVC)

Audio

Be honest — would you be thrilled if Apple brought back the headphone jack for the SE 2? The first SE proudly boasted one. Of course, that was before the iPhone 7 changed smartphone audio forever. The SE 2 doesn't have many audio rumors yet, but we can safely assume Apple will continue its omission of the 3.5 mm jack.

  • 3.5 mm headphone jack: likely no
  • Stereo speakers: likely yes
  • Mics: likely three total (on rear, front, and bottom)
  • Max speaker volume: unknown

Sensors

There's no reason to believe Apple is changing up its usual suite of sensors for the SE 2.

  • Sensors: GPS, barometer, accelerometer, three-axis gyroscope, proximity sensor, barometer, digital compass, fingerprint

Connectivity

Like sensors, we doubt Apple is changing things up much in the connectivity department. Unlike the iPhone 12, we doubt the SE 2 will see a 5G model.

  • Wi-Fi: likely 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth: likely 5
  • NFC: likely yes
  • Cellular: likely Nano-SIM card tray, Gigabit-class LTE
  • Port: likely Lightning
  • Other: likely iBeacon microlocation, AirPlay, AirDrop

Security

For the first time since 2017, Apple is releasing an iPhone with Touch ID, housed in the traditional home button. While many iPhone fans have probably moved on to Face ID and gesture controls, it's nice to see a new iPhone take on such a classic design. Touch ID has a failure rate of one-in-ten-thousand, which is definitely weaker than Face ID's one-in-a-million claim.

Also making a likely return is USB restricted mode, a security feature that prevents unauthorized third-party devices from connecting to and extracting information from your iPhone. Since this feature is built-into iOS, we can't imagine Apple removing it for the SE 2.

  • Security: Touch ID and USB restricted mode

Software

Since the SE 2 is slated to come out in spring, it will no doubt be running a version of Apple's iOS 13. We don't know what build will be available at that time. We could see the iPhone running iOS 13.3.1, iOS 13.4, etc. — it all depends on what software Apple has out at the time.

  • Software: some version of iOS 13

Built-in features will likely include Wi-Fi or cellular FaceTime video calls, FaceTime audio, voice over LTE (VoLTE), Wi-Fi calling, and full Siri support. A variety of language options, QuickType keyboard, Siri, dictation, dictionaries, and spell check, will also likely be available.

The following audio files will probably be supported — AAC-LC, HE-AAC, HE-AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), Dolby Atmos, and Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+) files. Video playback support likely includes HEVC, H.264, MPEG-4 Part 2, and Motion JPEG, as well as High Dynamic Range with Dolby Vision and HDR10 content.

In the Box

The SE 2 should see a similar unboxing experience to other iPhones in its price range. As stated above, we doubt Apple will include an 18-watt charger, opting instead for the 5-watt charger found with the iPhone 11. We also expect Apple to leave out the headphone jack adapter since it has done so for the past two iPhone cycles.

Cover image via Marques Brownlee/YouTube

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