Apple is facing a critical decision on the iPhone SE

Apple recently changed the production mix of the iPhone 14 family with a bias towards the larger iPhone Pro models. It seems that those looking at the top tiers of the iPhone are looking for something big. But it’s the other iPhone family, the smaller series, that poses the biggest question right now. How big should the next iPhone SE be?

It is widely accepted that Apple will finally get rid of the design that started on the iPhone 6 and is still used by the current iPhone SE. In its place will be the design of the iPhone XR that was released in 2018. It features the long notch at the top of the display and a full-screen-to-body design. This means there is no home button to incorporate a Touch ID sensor. Unless Apple is going to come up with a side option, the upcoming iPhone SE could be the first with FaceID.

However, this screen is one of the big decisions Apple has to make. Analyst Ross Young has highlighted the strange choice facing Tim Cook and his team… whether to use a 6.1-inch OLED screen, a 6.1-inch LCD screen, or a smaller 5.7-inch LCD screen. Chance Millar reports:

“Using a 6.1-inch OLED panel on the iPhone SE 4 would definitely be the more premium option, as it’s the same screen technology used on the top-of-the-line iPhone 14 models. However, it could force Apple to raise the price more than whatever he would do i would like to.

“Meanwhile, using an LCD screen between 5.7 inches and 6.1 inches would be more economical and help keep the price of the iPhone SE lower. Choosing the lower end of that screen size range would also help eases the concerns of existing iPhone SE users who don’t want a massive display.”

Given the production times, if Apple is still deciding on the screen size and apparently working with scratch-build prototypes, it’s against the fourth-generation iPhone SE debuting in 2023. It’s been talked about, but with the iPhone SE revival coming in 2020 and the third version in 2022… you can probably see where the fourth version fits in.

Apple needs to play it safe here. The iPhone SE needs to carve out its own successful space without cannibalizing the main line of iPhones. If there isn’t enough separation, then you have something like the iPhone 12 Mini and 13 Mini… nice to look at, technically capable, but everyone spent a bit more to get the vanilla iPhone.

The SE has its own brand that sits one step alongside the main line of iPhones. It also has the much bigger advantage of being the cheapest iPhone. Currently priced at $429 for the 64GB version and $479 for the 128GB version, the two price points flank Google’s Pixel 6a with a single SKU of $449 for a 128GB model. Apple will need to bring the SE to the same price point to compete with Google, Samsung and others. This keeps it at the forefront of the mid-range while leaving a significant step up from the vanilla iPhone that will keep fans in their own hero phones.

But will the iPhone SE crowd prefer the smaller or larger display models? Perhaps they would love both equally well. In which case which screen should be selected? Maybe the simplest answer is the right one… whichever screen costs Apple the least when buying in bulk will be the winner.

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