Speculation about the rumored iPhone SE 4 has taken a lot of twists and turns over the past 18 months, but some fresh rumors have painted the clearest picture yet of what we might get from a follow-up to the aging iPhone SE (2022).
But the fourth-gen iPhone SE also apparently won't just be an affordable version of the iPhone 14 – surprisingly, the MacRumors source (which is based on pre-production information) also claims the phone will get the iPhone 15 Pro's Action button, plus a USB-C port.
The inclusion of USB-C wouldn't be a surprise, but the Action button would be more unexpected considering that isn't even available on the iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Plus. This could hint at how far away the iPhone SE 4 launch is, as it may only arrive when the Action button becomes a standard feature.
Elsewhere, the rumors claim that Apple's next affordable phone will get a single 48MP camera with a flash, plus a new OLED screen from the iPhone 14 with Face ID (rather than Touch IS). This has been concluded from references to 'Pearl' in the iPhone SE 4's early development, which is apparently Apple's internal codename for Face ID.
While this all sounds that a pretty compelling phone for iOS fans who don't want to spend megabucks on one of the best iPhones, one of the many stumbling blocks in the way of an imminent release could be phone's modem. MacRumors says that Apple is testing its new in-house 5G modem in the iPhone SE 4, but there are now strong rumors that this will be delayed until 2026 (or potentially the iPhone 18).
That doesn't mean that Apple couldn't switch the iPhone 4 SE back to a Qualcomm modem (which are being supplied to Apple until 2026), but right now there's sadly no suggestion that a new iPhone SE is imminent.
Analysis: A compelling idea that's still a way off
Given that the iPhone mini has effectively been retired and the current iPhone SE (2022) feels like a relic from the past, there is definitely a gap in the iPhone lineup for a model like the rumored iPhone SE 4 – but we may still have to wait until at least 2025 to see it.
Despite the compelling details in this MacRumors report – a stripped-down iPhone 14 with an Action button and USB-C would surely sell by the bucketload – there's no suggestion about a possible release date, and the details could well change from these early development prototypes.
On the plus side, it does look increasingly likely that an iPhone SE 4 is at least in development and isn't just a testbed for Apple's new 5G modem. In April 2023, the leaker Jeff Pu also predicted that Apple could release the iPhone SE 4 in 2025, though this was quickly contradicted by the usually reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said it isn't in Apple's plan for 2024 or 2025.
If that's true, the iPhone SE 4 could instead well come with Apple's new 5G modem in 2026. Either way, this means the advice for those looking for an affordable iPhone is still to check out the best iPhone deals or check our Apple's refurbished iPhones, alongside the many second-hand iPhone options.
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Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.