It looks increasingly likely that we won't get an iPhone SE 4 – and that has cast doubt on the entire future of the series, with apparent doubts over its popularity and its profitability causing Apple to reassess the status of the cheapest of the iPhones.
This comes from respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors), who is right more often than not when it comes to Apple predictions. Kuo says Apple has told its suppliers that the iPhone SE 4 won't be launching in 2024 or indeed any year.
It's not the most surprising development: there had already been rumors that the next version of the iPhone SE wasn't guaranteed to appear, and it sounds as though the fate of the handset has now been sealed.
5G chip switch
There's a subplot here, which is that – according to Kuo – Apple was planning to use the iPhone SE 4 to debut its own 5G chip, developed in house. However there are "concerns" that the chip's performance "may not be up to par" with the Qualcomm chips that Apple currently uses for its phones.
That leaves Qualcomm as the big winner from the iPhone SE 4 cancelation, as it can carry on supplying Apple with 5G chips for the foreseeable future. The iPhones of course already make use of processors designed by Apple, with the A16 Bionic inside the iPhone 14 Pro.
With the iPhone SE (2022) launching last year, the third in the series, we wouldn't have expected another until 2024. Now though, there are serious doubts that we'll ever see a refresh of this inexpensive iPhone again, although Apple does tend to keep older models of its flagship handsets on sale for a less expensive alternative.
Analysis: is anyone buying the iPhone SE?
We've heard rumblings that the sales numbers of the iPhone SE (2022) are not as high as Apple had been hoping, which is probably the main reason why the future of the range is under threat. Apple isn't going to manufacture and sell an iPhone SE 4 if it doesn't think that many people are going to buy it.
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about the iPhone SE that isn't appealing to consumers. It's perhaps the dated design (complete with home button), or the small screen, or perhaps the limited single-lens camera setup.
On the plus side though, it's very affordable, runs the latest Apple chipsets, and can do everything the flagship iPhones can do from a software perspective. Its starting price is almost half that of the iPhone 14 – and that's a big saving.
It's possible that the second-hand market for used iPhones at lower prices is what's hurting iPhone SE sales, and it's also worth noting that Apple doesn't appear to advertise the handset as widely or as frequently as its other iPhones. Whatever the reason for its low sales numbers, it could now be the end of the road.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.