When the iPhone SE was released in 2016, it was a breath of fresh air to many phone fans; the ‘cheap phone’ market was in a sad state, as you couldn’t buy many great phones without splashing out, but in came Apple with a handset that brought notable features at a relatively low price point.
Many are hoping Apple repeats this with the anticipated iPhone SE 2, expected to launch in March 2020, but thanks to recent price leaks we’re worried Apple won't be able to replicate the success of the iPhone SE.
According to the most recent leaked information, the iPhone SE 2 price will come in at $399, and due to Apple pricing conventions we’d expect it to cost £379 and AU$679 in the UK and Australia respectively.
Sure, that would mean it costs exactly the same as its predecessor, but we’d argue Apple needs to actively reduce the cost to stay competitive in 2020, for one big reason.
The budget market has changed
Back when the iPhone SE launched, you typically had to pay lots of money to get a decent smartphone, as few of the cheap phones on the market were any good. That’s why the iPhone SE was popular – it sat almost alone on that intersection between ‘affordable’ and ‘good’.
However, four years have passed since then, and the budget phone market is a radically different place. Now you can get great Moto G handsets, Redmi phones, and various ‘Lite’ devices, each packed to the brim with great features and specs, and none of them costing you more than the iPhone SE's launch cost.
So the Apple iPhone SE 2 will enter a different market than its predecessor, one that’s packed full of impressive devices and affordable phones that could easily rival the iPhone SE 2.
We’re expecting the new Apple phone to be similar to the iPhone 8, a phone which arguably isn’t as good as most handsets that cost $399 / £379 / AU$679.
If Apple does launch its new iPhone at that price, it’s going to be a moderately expensive phone with seemingly fewer features than rival handsets.
It’s only expected to have one rear camera, two fewer than the £239 / AU$499 (roughly $310) Moto G8 Plus, and a 4.7-inch screen, much smaller than the 6.3-inch Xiaomi Redmi Note 8T, which costs £169.99 (roughly $220, AU$320).
So the iPhone SE 2 could be pricier and less feature-laden than its competition; therefore the only prospective customers who might be won over by it are people who are absolutely committed to iOS over Android – but even they’ve got a preferable alternative.
As of writing, a new iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 is more affordable than the stated iPhone SE 2 price, and if you’re willing to buy a second-hand or refurbished phone you can get even newer iPhones for affordable prices. These devices still hold up too, and are barely any different from the iPhone 8, so other than a newer chipset there’s likely to be little reason to buy an iPhone SE 2 over them.
So whether you're looking for a cheap new smartphone, or an Apple fan looking to save money on a new handset, there’s little reason to look at the iPhone SE 2 over competing devices – if Apple goes with the leaked price and the expected specs.
If it does launch with the expected specs then the only way the new iPhone SE 2 can replicate the iPhone SE’s popularity is by going for a super-cheap price – we’re talking less than $200 / £200 / AU$500.
At that price or below, the iPhone SE 2 will be a competitive device that many people will flock to. But if Apple goes for a price above that, it would be hard to recommend the new ‘affordable’ iPhone over the legions of competitors out there today.