Yesterday, Cult of Mac reported on a claim stating that Apple has no plans to refresh the iPhone SE this year. Today, another article from 9to5Mac reports that a new iPhone SE will arrive in August this year, a couple of months before the iPhone 8. However, the article’s title also states that the source for the report is “sketchy”. Whether the iPhone SE actually receives a refresh this year isn’t what concerns me. What concerns me is if the iPhone SE will have a future at all with Apple or if it was merely a one-time deal. I’m hoping for the former.
We’re used to seeing yearly refreshes for smartphones that matter, so when reports surface claiming that Apple might not release a next generation iPhone SE it’s easy to sound the alarm, especially when the SE failed to make an appearance in March. In my opinion, however, the iPhone SE doesn’t necessarily need a yearly refresh; every two years or so would be just fine, especially if SE users want an iPhone that’s not only small, but also affordable.
Ever since Apple introduced the SE last year, I’ve been a fan. I wanted manufacturers to continue to take compact smart phones seriously once so many of them hopped on the phablet bandwagon. Instead, some manufacturers like HTC and Samsung came up with the “mini” versions of their flagships, which ultimately ended up being expensive flagship namesakes with heavily watered-down specs. More recently, the term “compact” in relation to smartphones has become a total a joke; now you see compact devices with 5 to 5.2-inch screens. I don’t know about you, but back in my day anything with a 5-inch screen or above was a phablet.
Then comes Apple to the rescue with the iPhone SE, a device with the same body as the iPhone 5S but nearly identical internals to the iPhone 6S, a device that came out two years after the 5S. A few compromises were made to get there, but nothing too damning all things considered. Apple even goes beyond the meaning of compact by retaining the 4-inch form factor, which was already considered “too small” by the time the iPhone 5 was released in 2012 – a year after the “massive” Galaxy Note was released with its 5.3-inch display. Today, however, retaining the 4-inch form factor is widely regarded as a good decision considering that Apple also offers 4.7 and 5.5-inch variants of the iPhone as well.
The iPhone SE remains an anomaly of sorts across all smartphones. Although a 4-inch display is on the extreme smaller side of smartphones these days, it’s rare for any manufacturer to produce anything that has a 4.7-inch screen or smaller – and even that is a pretty rare occurrence now. My point here is that there really isn’t anything like the iPhone SE on the market at the moment, and it would be a shame if it never ended up receiving a true upgrade.
With that in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if the SE didn’t receive an update this year. While the idea is solid and much appreciated by many, I think it’s understandable that the demand for phones with 4-inch screens is probably not that high. Admittedly, it is difficult to return to adjust to a 4-inch form factor after using a 5-inch display or larger, and with manufacturers shrinking bezels in order to make screens larger, the need to downgrade to a smaller form factor isn’t as pressing. Then again, the SE is also Apple’s cheapest smartphone, so that likely increases demand as well considering how expensive iPhones have typically been.
Either way, if an upgrade happens this year, great. If it happens next year, that would be great, too. But if it never happens again? That’s not so great, and I, for one, would be kind of disappointed.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the iPhone SE? Would you be sad to see it go, or have you moved on from the old days of 4-inch displays? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!