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Apple iPhone SE 3 preview: release date, price and design rumours

Not everyone wants a 6in smartphone that’s too big to fit in your jeans. So when Apple revived the compact form factor of the iPhone SE in 2020, small phone fans had plenty to celebrate.

Pocket-friendly in more ways than one, both the original and the second-gen iPhone SE were smaller and more affordable than their iPhone contemporaries. The former was a revival of the iPhone 5’s design; the latter channelled the iPhone 8.

Two years on, many reckon another entry-level iPhone is overdue. And Apple seems to agree: the internet is awash with rumours of the iPhone SE 3, which looks set to arrive this year.

Will we see an all-new design? Or will the SE 3 follow its forebears by aping an iPhone from a few years ago? And when will the big reveal be? We’ve sifted through the online chatter to bring you all of the latest and most reliable intel below.

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When will the Apple iPhone SE 3 be available?

Eager to scoop up Apple’s long-awaited SE sequel? If the latest industry info is accurate, you shouldn’t have too long to wait. Several reliable sources point towards a spring release for the new entry-level iPhone.

That timing would certainly fit with Apple’s established launch schedule: the original iPhone SE was unveiled in March 2016, while the iPhone SE 2 broke cover in April 2020.

The exact date of Apple’s next launch event is less certain, although recent reports suggest it’s likely to take place in late April or early May, with shipments of the new device starting very shortly after.

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How much will the Apple iPhone SE 3 cost?

Render source: XLeaks7 / TenTechReview

Since its inception, the iPhone SE has been an affordable alternative to Apple’s ever-more-expensive flagship handsets. Both the original and the iPhone SE 2 offered a more accessible route into the Apple smartphone ecosystem, doing away with certain features to undercut their premium stablemates by several hundred pounds (or dollars).

We expect that trend to continue with the iPhone SE 3. While pricing is still far from confirmed, the rumoured specs (see below) suggest that Apple will still pitch the SE as the everyman model in its device line-up. It’s a recipe which worked well with the previous editions, so why change it?

At launch, the original Apple iPhone SE started at £359/$399. Before recent discounting, its successor set buyers back £419/$399 for the base spec 64GB model. You don’t need an analyst to spot the theme: there’s good reason to think that the Apple iPhone SE 3 will start at $399, with the UK price hovering around the same mark (depending on exchange rates).

That said, Apple has form when it comes to hiking prices, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that we could say the iPhone SE 3’s price tag jump up to somewhere around £449/$419.

What will the Apple iPhone SE 3 be called?

Officially, the iPhone SE was the iPhone SE. No, not the one from 2016. The one from 2020. Which was unofficially the iPhone SE (2020), the iPhone SE2 or the iPhone SE (2nd generation), depending on who you asked.

Will Apple add some clarity to the situation in 2022? The jury’s still out. Like its predecessor, the iPhone SE 3 already has many labels online: the iPhone SE (2022), the iPhone SE3 and the iPhone SE (3rd gen).

Adding even more conjecture into the mix, at least one analyst has suggested that Apple will use a new naming approach altogether, marketing the updated model as the iPhone SE Plus. Yet another has alternatively suggested that the incoming device could be called the iPhone SE 5G, with a full-fat iPhone SE 3 not arriving until 2023 (or even later). Unless further leaks reveal more, we won’t know for sure until spring.

What will the Apple iPhone SE 3 look like?

Render source: XLeaks7 / TenTechReview

Styling is always a hot topic at the rumour mill – and it’s no different for the iPhone SE 3. Both previous iterations of the SE have dialled back the clock to ape older iPhone models: the original borrowed its design from the iPhone 5, while 2020’s SE was essentially an iPhone 8.

By that logic, the iPhone SE 3 should be styled like a flagship Apple handset from three or four years ago. But will that happen? That’s certainly one suggestion which is circulating online. Digital renders are doing the rounds which show an iPhone SE that’s based on the iPhone XR from 2018, including a notched display and buttonless frontage.

But belief in that concept is not unanimous. Multiple sources have suggested that Apple won’t change the design at all for the new iPhone SE 3, sticking instead with the same iPhone 8 look adopted by the SE 2.

If true, that would make the iPhone SE 3 a compact handset with a 4.7in display, hefty bezels and a Touch ID button. While that’s good news for those who like a simple, pocketable phone, it’s less so for those hoping Apple’s updated entry-level device will feature a frame-filling screen.

How powerful will the Apple iPhone SE 3 be?

If Apple doesn’t update the design of the iPhone SE 3, it’ll need to introduce some solid performance enhancements to tempt buyers away from the second-gen SE. And if previous models are anything to go by, that’s exactly what it will do.

The first two iPhone SE generations have harnessed the processor from the latest Apple flagship. The iPhone SE 2, for example, launched in April 2020 equipped with the A11 chip first seen in the iPhone 11 the September before. So if the Apple iPhone SE 3 follows suit, that means it will benefit from the A15 Bionic – a beefy engine by all accounts.

What RAM will be on hand to back up that silicon remains to be seen, but an A15 inside the iPhone SE 3 would make it among the most powerful small smartphones on the market.

What cameras will the Apple iPhone SE 3 have?

Hoping for an affordable iPhone with multiple camera lenses? While an ultrawide or telephoto lens would be a neat addition, the outlook isn’t great: both the iPhone 8 and the iPhone XR are single-lens smartphones. So whichever model the iPhone SE 3 takes as inspiration, it’s likely to include just one camera on the rear.

That doesn’t mean Apple won’t improve the SE’s shooting skills, mind. Info is limited at this stage, but some murmurings point towards a new sensor – albeit with the same 12MP resolution as before. It’s not clear whether the front-facing snapper will receive a similar treatment.

What else should I know about the Apple iPhone SE 3?

One of the most anticipated additions to the iPhone SE 3 is 5G connectivity. This future-proofing should translate into significantly faster browsing when you’re away from Wi-Fi, provided you’re somewhere with 5G coverage (and on a network or plan which supports it).

As for other features, firm details are pretty thin on the ground. We’d hope to see the more efficient A15 Bionic chip backed up by a bigger battery. Then again, we’d also like to see slimmer bezels, a sharper OLED display and additional camera lenses – all of which seem increasingly unlikely to arrive with the iPhone SE 3/Plus/5G.

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