Apple Might Build An iPhone SE 4, But You Won't Be Able To Buy One

It looks like the next-gen iPhone SE won't hit the shelves until 2025, but if it comes as any consolation, it will most likely come equipped with an in-house 5G modem. TFI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who maintains a solid track record of Apple supply chain prediction, says the company is currently eyeing an engineering prototype of the next iPhone SE with its own 5G baseband chip. 

However, Apple reportedly has no concrete plans for pushing the device into mass production any time soon. For now, Apple is still reliant on Qualcomm's X-series modems for its mobile devices.

Unsurprisingly, Apple will only move ahead with industrial-scale production if the in-house 5G modem and the engineering prototype of the upcoming iPhone SE yield positive results in tests. Kuo predicts that mass production doesn't seem plausible until 2025, but that could push well into 2026, depending on Apple's performance expectations. 

Plus, Apple hasn't decided on the fabrication node for making its self-designed modem. Kuo claims it would depend on how quickly Apple decides to move ahead with large-scale production, and how it aligns with existing industry standards.

Promising, yet far ahead in the future

The saga of Apple switching to its own cellular modem has been a pretty tumultuous one, and at one point, it was expected that Qualcomm will be abandoned as a supplier in 2023. However, that didn't happen: On the contrary, Qualcomm bagged "the vast majority of share of 5G modems for the 2023 iPhone launch," according to Qualcomm Chief Financial Officer Akash Palkhiwala. 

Apple, on the other hand, is tapping the foundry of its long-time partner TSMC for making its 5G chip. Experts say bringing another component in-house will help Apple save on manufacturing costs, and might also bring some performance improvements.

Regardless of when consumers get to see the next iPhone SE, which seems exceedingly distant in the future, it will bring some welcome changes. Industry insiders claim that Apple will finally ditch the design that it introduced with the iPhone 8 for its next "SE" smartphone. 

In fact, Kuo claims that the upcoming iPhone SE's engineering prototype is modeled after the iPhone 14. That means Apple's next budget phone might finally ditch the ancient bezel-loaded design, add an extra camera at the back, and may add FaceID authentication into the mix as well.