OPINION: This week we had a fresh batch of rumors hit the headlines suggesting Apple will launch a new iPhone SE 3 smartphone in April.
Specifically, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that the firm would release the handset in April, months before its usual September iPhone event.
Normally I’d herald this as being awesome news as, while I’ve never been a fan of iPhones by preferring the flexibility of Android, a new SE is a big deal for one key reason: It targets a part of the market that’s currently underserved.
For years, anyone after a phone that’s comfortable to hold and easy to use one-handed have been left with woefully few options other than the iPhone SE range, the only notable exception being the Asus ZenFone 8. This is why, despite being slightly behind the times design-wise, we gave the iPhone SE 2 a four-star rating when we reviewed it in 2020.
But for me, things have changed with the launch and increased presence of Apple’s Mini range of iPhones, which in my opinion place the SE range in a weird position. To catch readers up, the iPhone Minis do exactly what they says on the tin, taking the flagship tech seen on the larger base iPhone model and condensing it into a small form factor chassis.
Last year this peaked with the launch of the iPhone 13 Mini, which remains one of the best small smartphones on the market, offering a reliable rear camera set-up, stellar performance and a welcoming design for people with smaller hands. The only downside we noted in our review is that it still has a very ugly notch atop the display.
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In fact, the Mini’s so good that it makes the new SE 3 look completely redundant, based on the current rumors. According to Bloomberg’s source, the SE 3 will at best match the iPhone 13 Mini. Specifically, it’s expected to have an “iPhone 8-like design”, 5G connectivity and an upgrade to run Apple’s newer A15 Bionic silicon – the same chip used in the 13 Mini.
If accurate, this means the SE 3 will be a very (very) dull phone where the only possible reason to buy it over the Mini would be a reduced price tag. For some people this might be enough, just as the iPhone SE 2 was a tempting buy for being almost £300/$300 cheaper than a base flagship iPhone.
But for me, that’s still not enough to justify its existence and release so soon after the latest Mini, which only went on sale at the end of 2021. If I were an Apple user tempted by a small phone, I’d have already grabbed the 13 Mini, or be dead set on holding out to see what Apple will bring to the table in September when it’s expected to unveil the iPhone 14 line. And that’s before you mention the ability to nab last generation’s iPhone 12 Mini at a considerably discounted rate already. At this point, I can’t help but feel as though the iPhone SE 3 is shaping up to be utterly pointless.