iPhone SE Plus

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

There was a big omission from Apple’s launch of the iPhone SE 2020: a bigger brother. Even though the new iPhone SE replaces the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 with the same size screen, Apple also retired the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus alongside the SE’s launch. So at least for now, there’s no large-screen version of the company’s most budget-friendly phone. 

But that doesn’t mean Apple isn’t working on an iPhone SE Plus behind the scenes. According to one reputable analyst, Apple will release an iPhone SE Plus during the second half of next year. That seems like a long time from now, but it’s possible Apple could move up the timetable.

iPhone SE Plus release date

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Here’s the bad news. As reported by 9to5Mac, the iPhone SE Plus may not launch until the second half of 2021. This is according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with TF International Securities. Previously Kuo predicted that the iPhone SE Plus would have a release date in the first half of 2021, but it’s reportedly been postponed. 

Why the delay? It could be because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has reportedly pushed back the mass production of the iPhone 12 by a month. Plus, Apple apparently has four iPhone 12 phones in the pipeline, so it’s doubtful that it would want to rush out a lower-price new iPhone that could canniablize the sales of multiple flagships.

iPhone SE Plus price

There are no firm rumors yet on the possible price of an iPhone SE Plus, but if history is any guide, we would expect Apple to charge about a $100 premium over the iPhone SE. So the iPhone SE Plus may have a price of $499 for 64GB of storage. Jumping up to 128GB would could likely cost $50 more, or $549, and a 256GB model would run you $649.

iPhone SE Plus size and design

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Here’s where it gets tricky. While some reports point to the iPhone SE Plus having a screen size of 5.5 inches, others say it could have a 6.1-inch panel. A lot of this depends on whether Apple decides to recycle the iPhone 8 Plus’ design or go in a new direction. 

According to MacRumors, the iPhone SE Plus won’t have Face ID but will instead feature a Touch ID sensor that’s integrated into the power button on the right side of the phone. That would make a 6.1-inch iPhone SE Plus a lot more likely and closer to a full-screen design. 

Another plus: If Apple decided to forgo both the Touch ID home button underneath the screen as well as Face ID, the iPhone SE Plus would likely have a smaller notch up top for the front camera.

As for the screen itself, we expect an LCD panel as opposed to an OLED one, which would allow Apple to keep the price down. All four iPhone 12 models are reportedly getting OLED screens, so an LCD iPhone SE Plus would make sense.

iPhone SE Plus specs

Apple may very well decide to stick with its current A13 Bionic processor that’s inside the iPhone SE for the larger iPhone SE Plus. But if the company is truly holding off until the second half of 2021, it’s more likely that the iPhone SE Plus will get the same A14 Bionic chip that’s expected to power the iPhone 12.

This would follow the same pattern that Apple established with the iPhone SE. Apple would likely include the same storage options, at 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities.

iPhone SE Plus cameras

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The iPhone SE makes due with a single rear 12MP camera and a 7MP selfie camera up front, but it leverages the computational photography features of the A13 Bionic chip so well that it’s one of the best camera phones for the money. You get Portrait Mode, Smart HDR and extended dynamic range in 4K video.

The iPhone SE Plus could be even more versatile. The iPhone 8 Plus included both a standard lens and a telephoto lens for optical zoom. And Apple may follow a similar path for an iPhone SE Plus. 

However, Apple went in a different direction with the iPhone 11, giving the phone two lenses but using an ultrawide camera instead of a telephoto. And it’s safe to assume Apple will stay the course for the iPhone 12. So an iPhone SE Plus will probably have two rear cameras, though it remains to be seen whether Apple will go the telephoto or ultrawide route.

What I would expect from an iPhone SE Plus is Night Mode. It’s one of the biggest missing features from the regular iPhone SE, and there’s nothing that leads me to believe that Apple couldn’t add it to its existing budget phone, never mind its larger cousin. Night Mode has more to do with computational photography and machine learning than hardware.

iPhone SE Plus battery life and charging

iPhone SE 2020

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The iPhone SE’s battery life did not impress in our testing, as its small 1,821 mAh battery lasted only 9 hours and 18 minutes on our web surfing test. This is well behind the 11-hour mark, which is what you need to make our best phone battery life list.

The iPhone 8 Plus packed a 2,675 mAh battery, which lasted 11 hours and 16 minutes on a charge. So the iPhone SE Plus could easily be one of the longest lasting phones around, especially for the money. Plus, Apple may give the phone a slightly bigger battery, and presumably a 5-nanometer A14 Bionic processor would be even more efficient than today’s 7nm A13 chip.

As for charging, I’m really hoping Apple ditches Lightning for USB-C by the time the iPhone SE Plus rolls around — but I wouldn’t bet on it. You may get the same slow 5-watt charging out of the box, which is a bummer but not too bad of a trade-off for a midrange phone. Fast charging in this scenario would cost extra with a 18-watt USB-C charger and USB-C to Lightning cable. 

Like the iPhone SE, the iPhone SE Plus would presumably support Qi wireless charging — so it should work with any of the best wireless chargers out there.

iPhone SE Plus outlook

With questionable demand for premium flagship phones due to economic uncertainty, an iPhone SE Plus would give shoppers a viable big-screen phone with all the features they need at a reasonable price. As good as the regular iPhone SE is, there are some users who simply don’t want to deal with a small 4.7-inch display. If Apple is indeed developing an iPhone SE Plus, it could be a killer value, but we may have to patient before it materializes. 

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