Apple will reportedly unveil an iPhone SE with 5G this spring

The new budget phone wouldn't be a radical redesign.

Chris Velazco/Engadget

Apple might use its now-customary spring event to update its most affordable smartphone. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman claimed in his latest newsletter that Apple is expected to introduce a third-generation iPhone SE this spring through a virtual presentation "likely" happening in March or April. In an echo of past rumors, Gurman understood the new SE would still cling to the iPhone 8-era design but add 5G and a new processor — possibly the A15 from the iPhone 13, if Apple's history of using last year's high-end chip is any indication.

There was no mention of other changes. It wouldn't be surprising if Apple increased the storage to 128GB or updated the camera sensors (again borrowed from the iPhone 8), but those aren't guaranteed given Apple's low-cost focus for the iPhone SE. A larger battery might be necessary to compensate for 5G's typically higher energy drain.

If the leak is accurate, the new iPhone SE would be disappointing for those wanting a modern nearly-all-screen design. You'd still have a relatively small screen, thick bezels and a button-based fingerprint reader. As we just mentioned, though, price is everything for the SE. The current model's $399 price helps Apple reach some customers who otherwise couldn't justify an iPhone. The company might not want to do anything that could prompt even a small a price hike, if just to maximize the SE's potential audience.