iPhone SE 3 set for 5G and speed upgrade but keeps the Home button, and honestly I’m relieved

A new report says the iPhone SE 3 will keep the old design that dates back to the iPhone 6… and I think that's a great idea

New iPhone SE 3
(Image credit: Future)

There's a new iPhone SE that's intended to launch in the first half of 2022, only a couple of years after the last upgrade, according to a new report from DigiTimes (via MacRumors). The report says that the new model will feature 5G support and the faster A14 processor as upgrades.

That combination of A14 processor and 5G modem is exactly what the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro offer, but those will be the only upgrades from Appe's newer phones coming to the next iPhone SE, if the report is correct.

The screen and camera are set to stay the same, for example, though the latter will almost certainly get a boost from the A14 chip offering smarter image processing than the A13 used by the current iPhone SE.

It's a bit surprising that the report says the next iPhone SE would use the A14, because the previous iPhone SE models have both used whatever the most recent Apple chip is, and by 2022 that will likely be the A15 used in the iPhone 13. But given that Apple wants to include 5G as well, perhaps a slightly older chip is a good way to keep costs lower – or perhaps the global chip shortage means Apple isn't sure it can make enough A15 chips for both the iPhone 13 and the iPhone SE 3.

The other element that reportedly won't change is the design, which will stick with the current look – big bezels at the top and bottom of the 4.7-inch screen, with the traditional Home button with Touch ID at the bottom.

By 2022, this would mean the next iPhone SE would look pretty out of date when compared to the best cheap Android phones, let alone other iPhones.

And yet, it's actually the thing here I'm most pleased to see – honestly, I could take or leave 5G being included, but I was dreading losing the button.

Buttons just work

The move to all-screen displays with gesture-based controls is something that the tech savvy have had no problems with picking up, but now smartphones are the default computers and main communication device for everyone, and some people find that stuff much harder to get to grips with than others.

My mum is one of many people using a handed down older iPhone once I got the shiny new designs, but it will probably need replacing before long. As a general technophobe, has gotten to grips with using it just fine overall, but that's partly because the button makes it such a simple and understandable thing to interact with.

To unlock, just press the button. Need to open a different app? Just press the button. Tapped the wrong thing and don't know what you're looking at? Just press the button and you're back at the oasis of the Home screen. Is it the right way way up? Check the button.

It's a landmark for people who may find themselves lost in the idea of a 100% virtual interface, and makes life easier if you're trying to troubleshoot something with that person when you can't see the phone, because it's the one thing that doesn't, and can't, change.

So I'm really relieved that it's set to stick around as an option, if this report is true, for all of us who'd really rather not teach someone yet another new interface. And after all, the idea of a cheaper phone with the new design is already filled by the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 – the SE can stay fashionably old-fashioned.

Matthew Bolton
Matthew Bolton

Matt is T3's master of all things audiovisual, running our TV, speakers and headphones coverage. He also handles smart home products and large appliances, as well as our toys and games articles. He's the only one on the team who can explain both what Dolby Vision IQ is and why the Lego you're building doesn't fit together the way the instructions say, so is truly invaluable.

Matt has worked for tech publications for over 10 years, in print and online, including running T3's print magazine and launching its most recent redesign. He's also contributed to a huge number of tech and gaming titles over the years. Say hello if you see him roaming the halls at CES, IFA or Toy Fair.