iPhone SE 3 or iPhone SE Plus 5G - what will Apple name its next phone?

iPhone SE 2020
An iPhone SE (2020) (Image credit: Future)

We’re expecting the iPhone SE 3 to land soon, with rumors suggesting a launch sometime between March and May, but when it does launch it probably won’t do so as the iPhone SE 3.

That’s not surprising – that’s never been Apple’s naming scheme for the range, we’ve just been using it to make it clear it’s the third model. The name we were actually expecting was just the iPhone SE, or the iPhone SE (2022), following on from the iPhone SE (2020). Except it’s now looking like that might not be its name either.

For a long time we’ve been hearing rumors of an iPhone SE Plus, and while this was thought to be a different phone in the SE range (perhaps one that could land alongside an iPhone SE 3), a recent leak suggests that the iPhone SE 3 will actually launch as the iPhone SE Plus 5G. But will it really?

There’s plenty of push for Plus

There’s no shortage of leaks and rumors around an iPhone SE Plus or an iPhone SE Plus 5G. We first heard of an iPhone SE Plus all the way back in early 2020, before the iPhone SE (2020) had even landed.

Since then, leaks about this phone have periodically popped up, with the most recent ones suggesting it will land in 2022, and with suspiciously similar specs to what we were expecting from the iPhone SE 3, including a 4.7-inch screen and 5G.

Then, we heard that the next iPhone SE model would launch this year as the iPhone SE Plus 5G.

No names that don’t include Plus appear to have been put forward, with the bulk of the leaks just referring to a new iPhone SE or similar, without being clear on whether that’s the actual name or just how they’re referring to it in the absence of one.

An iPhone SE (2020) on a wooden surface

The next iPhone SE could be the start of a new naming scheme (Image credit: Future)

The problem with Plus

Based on all that it seems the case for the iPhone SE Plus or iPhone SE Plus 5G is compelling, but there are some issues with that name too.

For one thing, historically Apple has used the Plus suffix to denote a larger screen, as in the iPhone 8 Plus for example, which was bigger than the iPhone 8. Yet most of the leaks we’re hearing so far suggest that this new iPhone SE will have a 4.7-inch screen, just like the current model.

That said, Apple has now moved on to using the suffix Max to describe bigger screens, so perhaps it’s repurposing the word Plus, though doing so still seems a bit confusing and unnecessary.

Indeed, we can’t see why the word is needed at all for this new phone, given that Apple already had a perfectly good naming scheme for the range – as noted, it could just refer to the new model as the iPhone SE, the iPhone SE 5G, or the iPhone SE (2022). Or it could follow the main iPhone range and use numbers, bringing us back to the iPhone SE 3.

Any of those options would seem to make more sense than putting Plus in the name.

A red iPhone SE (2020) resting on greenery

Despite our issues, a Plus is probably on the way (Image credit: Future)

Our prediction

While we have serious issues with the phone being called the iPhone SE Plus 5G (especially if it does stick with the same screen size as rumored), that, or perhaps just the iPhone SE Plus, is our best guess for the name.

It’s the only name that’s been properly rumored, and we’re probably quite close to launch now, so we’d think some leakers would know what they’re talking about by now.

There is also one way we can see that the Plus name might make sense, and that’s if Apple continues selling the iPhone SE (2020) alongside it. That way, you could get the old model at a likely dirt cheap price, or upgrade to the Plus model for 5G and a power boost.

Then, when Apple properly overhauls the phone as it’s rumored to be doing in 2023 or 2024, with a model said to be launching with a modern design, it could market that one as a truly new iPhone SE, rather than just a Plus version of the 2020 model.

So maybe that’s Apple’s plan. Or maybe it’s just dropped the ball on the naming of this phone – and it wouldn’t be the first time, given what a mouthful iPhone 13 Pro Max is. But either way, it looks likely that a Plus is on the way.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.