The iPhone SE 3 features we’d like to see

The new iPhone SE is striking in red. At $399, it’s the most affordable iPhone you can buy right now.

John Kim/CNET

Apple can give its smallest and cheapest iPhone an update next week. The tech giant is holding an event on March 8, during which Apple is exit rumor a new version of iPhoneSE. (Here is how the iPhone SE 3 could compare to its predecessor.) The latest iPhone SE debuted in 2020. With its iPhone 11 ProIn terms of performance, affordability and a compact design, the 2-year-old phone already provides a lot of value for the price.

But there are still plenty of ways for Apple to improve the iPhoneSEespecially since Samsung and Google are bringing attractive features like multi-lens cameras to their cheaper phones. the iPhone 11 new, cheaper $499 (£489, AU$849) could also make the $399 iPhone SE a harder sell for those who want a more cost-effective Apple device.

Read more: Apple Watch SE vs Series 7: Why Apple’s cheapest watch might be the best value

If Apple’s next budget iPhone becomes a reality, here are the improvements we’d like to see.

A sharper selfie camera


The iPhone SE 2020 has a 7-megapixel front camera and we’d like to see an upgrade in the next model.

John Kim/CNET

The iPhone SE‘s affordability means the phone compromises, especially when it comes to the camera. And if Apple keeps the prices of the next iPhone SE as competitive as the 2020 version, that probably won’t change much.

But we’d at least like to see a higher resolution front camera for clearer video calls and selfies. The current iPhone SE has a 7-megapixel front camera like the iPhone XS. The iPhone 11 and newer devices have a 12-megapixel front camera with a wider field of view, as my colleague Patrick Holland mentions in his review.

Although the iPhone SE’s rear camera lacks the dual-lens setup that’s become common on most phones — even budget devices — its single-lens wide camera is still capable of producing impressive images. But now that the COVID-19 pandemic has made video calling on our mobile devices the norm, it would be great to see the front-facing camera get an upgrade that brings it closer to Apple’s more expensive phones.

Read more: Is buying an iPhone 13 worth it? Let’s compare the last 5 years of Apple iPhones

A new Apple processor

Apple A15 processor on iPhone 13.jpg

The Apple A15 processor in the iPhone 13 has 15 billion transistors.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

One of the best things about the iPhone SE is that it runs on the same processor as the iPhone 11, which ensures that it won’t feel too slow too soon and will be able to handle new features. While the A13 Bionic chip Inside the iPhone SE is packed with power for day-to-day tasks, Apple could give its budget phone an edge by equipping it with an even newer processor.

the iPhone 13 A15 Bionic processor would be ideal, but even gaining the A14 Bionic chip would be a step towards futureproofing the iPhone SE for years to come. Again, the older A13 Bionic chip is more than adequate for most things you typically do on your phone, such as checking email, reading the news, playing games, and taking photos.

But the improved neural engine in Apple’s new chips will likely improve your iPhone in many of the machine learning-based software the iPhone has acquired in recent years. These include app recommendations, text predictions, language translation, and the ability to recognize people in photos. It’s those kinds of features that largely drive the iPhone’s appeal rather than raw computing power, and the more powerful neural engine in Apple’s new chips should help.

There’s a chance we could see Apple’s latest mobile processor coming in the next iPhone SE, as a report from Nikkei Asian Review says it will run on the same A15 Bionic chip in iPhone 13.

5G support


T-Mobile 5G national network advertisement seen in midtown Manhattan.

Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

You may not need 5G today whereas speeds are generally comparable to 4G LTE networks. But 5G is now standard in most smartphones, which means they’re generally no more expensive than non-5G phones like they were in 2019. Along with a processor upgrade, bringing 5G to the iPhone SE would be another way to ensure that Apple’s next-generation budget phone doesn’t feel two to three years dated. Nikkei’s report also suggests that the next iPhone SE will be 5G-capable, which would mean Apple’s entire 2022 lineup will be able to support the next-gen network.

Read more: iPhone SE 3: Release date, price, 5G and all the other rumors we hear

Better battery life


The iPhone SE is one of Apple’s smallest iPhones, along with the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 13 Mini.

John Kim/CNET

The iPhone SE isn’t just the cheapest phone Apple has sold; it is also one of the smallest. This also means it has a smaller battery than other iPhones like the iPhone 11, 12 and 13. Apple estimates that the iPhone SE should last up to 13 hours when playing local videos, while the iPhone 13 should last 19 hours and the iPhone 11 and 12 should last 17 hours. apple too improved battery life in his other smaller iPhone, the iPhone 13 Mini, which he claims can last 17 hours during video playback, just like the iPhone 12.

In our iPhone SE review
, my colleague Patrick Holland wrote that it was able to easily get through a day and a half on a single charge. However, battery life will always vary depending on how you use your device. In my own experience, during a full working day, I only got through late afternoon on days when I’m making a lot of calls or recording audio for work. But I usually get more mileage on weekends when I’m mostly checking email, reading the news, and browsing social media.

Still, battery life can never be too good, and since Apple improved the battery life of the iPhone 13 Mini, I hope the next one will do the same. iPhone SE.

Touch ID


The iPhone SE is the only current iPhone with Touch ID.

Angela Lang/CNET

The iPhone SE is the only model currently sold by Apple that still has the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the home button. I imagine that’s a big draw for some people, especially in the last couple of years, because the need to check your phone while wearing a mask is suddenly common. Apples iOS 15.4 Update should fix this issue by improving how Face ID works while wearing a mask. But Touch ID might still feel more convenient because it doesn’t require you to position your phone in front of your face in a certain way.

Many modern Android phones include both facial recognition and fingerprint scanning as biometric options to unlock your phone or authenticate payments. Reports suggest Apple is working on a display fingerprint scanner for future flagship iPhone modelsbut hopefully Apple will keep Touch ID on the iPhone SE in the meantime.

More base model storage


The iPhone SE starts with 64GB of storage, but we’d like to see 128GB.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple has increased the entry-level storage capacity of the iPhone from 64 GB to 128 GB for iPhone 13 — a welcome update that would be much appreciated on the upcoming iPhone SE. More storage usually drives the price up, but 128GB is widely considered standard on smartphones, including budget models like the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G at $350 and $450 Google Pixel 5A 5G. I hope that by removing the 64GB configuration from the iPhone 13 line, Apple will recognize this change.

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