If you're a best smartphone early adopter, it's easy to lose track of what phones other people are using: as much as I love my iPhone 13 Pro, most people aren't interested in spending so much so often for the latest phones – and in all honesty the difference between it and my last iPhone isn't dramatic for most of the things I've used it for.
But I've just bought my eldest the iPhone SE as a replacement for their iPhone 6 Plus, and while the SE spec isn't even in the same postcode as my phone it's a huge upgrade nevertheless. It covers everything my eldest wants to do: messaging, Apple Music, TikTok, YouTube, photos and messing around online.
So I'm really interested in reports that the new iPhone SE, the iPhone SE 3 5G, may get a big price cut – and that the current iPhone SE 2020 could be getting one too. Wouldn't it be great if you could get an iPhone for £199 and a 5G one for just £100 more?
A cheap iPhone would be a big win for Apple
I've been following the MWC 2022 news with a lot of interest, because some of the best Android phones in 2022 aren't going to be massively expensive. And some of the budget ones are really good buys too. You can get a really cheap phone for under $200/£200, and there are some really impressive ones under $200/£300.
The current iPhone SE is $399/£389 without a trade-in, and that gets you the same A13 Bionic processor as the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the 2021 iPad. It's impressively quick, and the SE is more than powerful enough to run Apple's various services such as Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+ and so on. But while $399/£389 isn't a lot of money for an Apple phone, it's a lot of money for a phone.
If the rumours are correct, Apple wants to sell the iPhone SE 3 for $299/£299 and may also keep the 2020 iPhone SE around in the same way it's still selling the Apple Watch Series 3. That's currently $199/£179, down from its original price of $369/£329. The reason Apple still sells it is simple: more sales means more subscribers to Apple services and more people joining the Apple ecosystem including iCloud. The person who buys an Apple Watch Series 3 now (or who gets it from a parent) may go on to buy or ask for the HomePod mini, or the iPhone SE 3, or maybe the iPhone 15, or an M2 MacBook in the years to come. The cheap device won't deliver massive margins but it would be a gateway drug to Apple's big and highly profitable hitters.
But the benefits aren't just one way. If you're a parent or a savvy shopper you'll know the difficulty in getting a good condition iPhone second-hand for anything approaching a sensible price; Apple's high initial prices means that second -hand prices are hefty too. A cheaper iPhone SE isn't going to affect that: it's more likely to take the place of the iPod touch, another Apple device I love but that feels way past its prime.
So far the idea that Apple will hang on to the current iPhone SE is purely speculation, but I hope it's correct. It's a really good phone and one of the best budget phones, and it'll be better still if it replaces the iPod touch as the most affordable Apple handset.
Fancy the Apple iPhone SE (2020) as your next cheap phone upgrade? The best prices on this 5-star phone can be viewed below.