Apple’s iPhone SE lineup attempts to give users the iOS experience at a relatively low mid-range price. In Apple’s land, the iPhone SE is their entry-level budget option. The phones rarely get positive critical acclaim since the overall hardware package for the price is ridiculously lackluster, even after paying 429$.
The iPhone SE 2022 had no major updates but got a price bump. From the A13 Bionic SOC, there was a chip bump to the Apple A15 Bionic (4GB RAM, 4-core GPU edition). This isn’t the same chip as the iPhone 13 Pro, but the phone performs just as well as the iPhone 13.
The iPhone SE’s target audience is obvious, and it’s for people who want a new iPhone with the old home button style design and form factor. Millions still do not prefer using the new navigation gesture style and would rather use the simple button.
Also, for people with many contacts on Apple-exclusive platforms like iMessage and FaceTime, the SE is the only new model Apple sells. Despite generally lackluster hardware, it still has most of the iOS features, and it has the same iOS perks- and those with a platform preference will consider the SE regardless.
Considering the basic target audience, Apple can keep the pricing under $500 and still profit from this model. Apple’s formula with the SE is to reuse really old hardware, and since manufacturing costs of old hardware fall over time, Apple can maximize its margins on this device.
Recap of previous SE models
The first iPhone SE model came out in 2016. This was when a smartphone display size increase trend was going on, and Apple was, as usual, very late to the party. The iPhone 5S was a smartphone with a 4″ display size.
In 2014, the iPhone 6 got a new 4.7″ display size, and there was a minority that disliked this shift to a larger device. For this minority, Apple re-launched an iPhone 5S in 2015, albeit with a new SOC under the hood. The iPhone 5S had the Apple A7 Bionic, but the first-generation iPhone SE got the A9 Bionic SOC.
The rest of the specifications were identical to the iPhone 5S. However, there was another advantage to reusing components like this, and that was the price. The iPhone SE 1 was essentially the performance of the latest 6S Plus. But it was in a much smaller and compact form factor, for 399$. The 6S was launched at 649$ then, which was much more expensive.
Apple expanding into cheaper segments will enable many more people to access Apple Services and potentially join the ecosystem. A cheaper lock-in was necessary, and this was Apple’s way of doing it.
The iPhone SE 2nd gen in 2020 followed the same principles. It picks up an iPhone 8 and slaps the A13 chip inside, and Apple puts it on sale for 399$. That is the same price as the first-generation SE. The reception was mixed, but the performance was incredible for the price. Many people bought it during the 2020 pandemic since there were plenty of discounts and many wanted gadgets, specifically iPhones.
Finally, we’re at the latest iPhone SE model, and the third generation was launched in March 2022. The phone is the same as the iPhone SE2 but has the A15 Bionic chip inside. The A15 is a major performance bump, but the remaining hardware is still lacking. The main reason for the 2022 update of the SE model was to offer 5G on the entry model.
Factors that could lead to a price increase for the iPhone SE 4
We’re at the iPhone SE 4th gen, and there are strong rumors that Apple could increase the price. Some reports claim that the phone could ship with an OLED display. Apple’s 720P LCD Retina display isn’t expensive to manufacture, but an OLED panel will bump the prices.
Another reason is the design. Apple will probably completely do away with the home button-style design. We’ll mostly get the design of the iPhone XR or iPhone X, and this remains compact by today’s standards. We’re not sure about the rest of the specifications. If it launches in 2024, we can also expect the A16 Bionic chip.
A new iPhone SE in 2023 is highly unlikely at this point. Reports claim that suppliers are already bidding for the displays of the iPhone SE 4. Apple typically buys most of its screens from Samsung and LG; BOE sometimes makes panels for them, though not on such a large scale.
Interestingly enough, Apple probably won’t use a Samsung-made screen for the SE if it’s moving to OLED. Suppliers are apparently bidding among the Chinese display manufacturers, and two key competitors for the iPhone SE’s display supply are Tianma and BOE.
A new 4nm SOC, a different design, and the OLED display could all easily contribute to an increase in price. In this segment, we have phones like the Pixel 7A, which also offer OLED, so Apple has to keep the price competitive. This segment also has Samsung’s offerings, like the A54.
The Pixel 7A got new camera sensors, a 90Hz refresh rate, and more upgrades- but the price went up from $ 449$ to $ 499$. We expect to similarly bump the price to match the rest of the hardware upgrades.
How much will the iPhone SE 4 cost?
- The upcoming iPhone SE 4 could be priced at 499$ for the base variant.
We aren’t optimistic that Apple will keep the same 429$ starting price for the iPhone SE 4. The iPhone SE 3 just got a chip upgrade, but there is a $30 bump to the price regardless, from 399$ to 429$. For a completely different design, a new chip, and OLED, it’s unrealistic to expect Apple to keep the same starting price.
Knowing Apple, we’ll probably still get only 64GB of storage on the base model of the iPhone SE 4. We expect the price to be 499$, matching the Pixel 7A. Anything beyond 499$ makes no sense either since Apple discounts the previous year’s vanilla models after a year, and they’ll always have an offering at 599$.
This effective pricing ladder needs to go up in a $100 pattern of increase. If the SE 4 costs $499, the iPhone 13 could start at 599$, the 14 at 699$, etc.