Apple’s rumored to be putting new life into the small phone with an iPhone 5se upgrade, maybe as soon as this March!
Instead of letting the iPhone 5s go the way of all previous older iPhones, rumor has it Apple is going to give it new specs and new life… as the iPhone 5se. That would keep a 4-inch iPhone on the market, for those that still prefer it, and keep the entry-level iPhone distinct from Apple’s flagships. What kind of spec bumps could it get and when could we get it?
Once Apple announces it, we’ll know for sure. In the meantime we can look at the rumors and try to figure out where and how to set our expectations. So, let’s do that now!
iPhone 5se name
The currently rumored name for the new 4-inch iPhone is iPhone 5se.
Not iPhone 6c, since it’s not an iPhone 6 in a candy colored casing, and not iPhone 6s mini because, physically, it’s reportedly based on the iPhone 5s design, not iPhone 6s.
Apple introduced the “S”-variant names in 2009 with the iPhone 3GS. Back then, the “S” stood for “speed” in recognition of the increase in processor and radio performance. Apple continued the convention with the iPhone 4S — later re-styled iPhone 4s — in 2011. While the iPhone 4s was speedier in many ways, it also had “Siri”. The iPhone 5s came in 2013, which was again speedier, but again also had a new “sensor” in Touch ID. If iPhone 5se is an upgraded iPhone 5s, it makes sense to brand it as such.
Apple has, of course, sometimes skipped new branding entirely. The early 2013 iPad was simply the “new iPad” and the 2015 Apple TV was simple the “new Apple TV”, even though both were major updates. That can cause confusion, though, especially for those searching for accessories.
iPhone 5se wouldn’t be the first double letter name either. The first “S”-variant was also packed double letters: iPhone 3GS. The original iPhone 3G name — which could just as easily have been iPhone 2 —reflected the updated radio technology. Apple could have gone with iPhone 3S, but they wanted to keep the iPhone 3G branding. iPhone 5se would fit that pattern: keep the iPhone 5s branding but enhance it.
(Way back in 1987, of course, Apple released a Macintosh SE. Convenient nostalgia is still nostalgia, after all.)