A new apple iPhone, the fourth version of the iPhone SE, may never see the light of day. A new report suggests that the phone will either be canceled or postponed (read on for why my money’s on the former).
The current iPhone 14 Pro series of smartphones are doing well for Apple, judging by the limited stock availability and generally favorable reviews. But the regular iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus may not be doing quite as well.
And it’s because of this that a highly reliable Apple commentator, Ming-Chi Kuo from TFI Securities, has just predicted that the iPhone SE fourth-generation is being canceled or, at the very least, postponed. On Twitter, Kuo said, “My latest survey indicates that Apple will likely cancel or postpone the mass production plan for the 2024 iPhone SE 4. I
think this is due to the consistently lower-than-expected shipments of mid-to-low-end new apple iPhone (e.g., SE 3, 13 mini, and 14 Plus).”
As you’ll know, the iPhone SE is Apple’s most affordable smartphone and is now in its third-generation model. Apple has previously used an earlier model’s design and updated it by putting the latest phone processor in it.
So, the iPhone 5s design reappeared as the first new apple iPhone SE in March 2016. Then, Apple re-introduced us to the design of the iPhone 8 which it used as the basis for the second-gen SE in Spring 2020. Both phones sold well and the 2020 version may have been partly responsible for lower sales of the iPhone 12 mini later that same year—if you like the small form factor of the 12 mini, well, why not save money by getting the similarly small SE?
Two years later, in Spring 2022, the third-gen SE appeared, looking very similar to the second-generation model. Could its apparent lack of standout success be that people had had enough of that design? Or the fashion for smaller new apple iPhone had passed? Or was Touch ID on the front of a phone finally passed?
Whatever, it was understood that Apple’s next SE would a full-screen affair, probably resembling the new apple iPhone XR, first seen in 2018, though doubtless with a brand-spanking-new chip at its heart.
Kuo adds that there were also: “concerns that the full-screen design of the SE 4 will lead to an increase in higher costs/selling prices. As a result, Apple may need to reconsider the product positioning and return on investment for the SE 4.”
Assuming the new SE was based on the new apple iPhone XR, there would still have been testing to be done, checking the thermal envelope when a new chip was introduced, and so on. So, Kuo concludes: “Additionally, reducing unnecessary new product development expenses will also help the company navigate the challenges of the global economic recession in 2023.”
All of this is a bit of a shock for those planning to stay with the entry-level new apple iPhone when it launched in 15 months. That it was thought to arrive as soon as Spring 2024 tells you it was likely already a long way down the design road, so there will have been considerable costs.
As such, cancellation or even postponement would not be a decision taken lightly.
Apple has other options, of course. It released four iPhones last fall, of which the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus are expected to stay in the range when the iPhone 15 is released. At that point, the iPhone 13 would likely remain and iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 12 will likely disappear from sale.
But if Apple wanted to keep a foot in the smaller smartphone market, it could retain the iPhone 13 mini. This would work as an entry-level phone and satisfy those users who want a more petite handset.
Apple’s development process is always considered painstaking, so to me, a decision to cancel seems more likely than a postponement.
Plenty of time for more reports to confirm or contradict Kuo’s in the coming months.
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