We may not be getting a new iPhone SE in 2024, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who bases his predictions on sources in the supply chain. On Friday, Kuo wrote in a blog post that Apple had canceled production and shipment plans for the phone after his prediction last month that a fourth-gen iPhone SE could be canceled or delayed.
Kuo thinks the reason the phone is getting axed could be that Apple’s lower-end phones were selling worse than the company hoped (in September, Bloomberg reported that there was more demand for iPhone 14 Pros than regular iPhone 14s) and due to concerns that another price increase for the lineup could make it less attractive to price-conscious buyers.
If Apple doesn’t end up releasing an iPhone SE in 2024, it won’t necessarily be a surprise. In March, Kuo and Nikkei Asia reported that Apple was already lowering the number of iPhone SEs it planned to produce just weeks after the phone was released.
While we haven’t heard much about how the phone’s been selling since then, it’d be understandable if Apple wasn’t rushing to make a follow-up to a phone that didn’t make a ton of money, especially given that 2023 looks like it could be tough for big tech companies and the economy in general.
(By the same token, I’d argue that tough economic times would be the perfect time to make a great budget phone.) The more budget-friendly model has only gotten three iterations, so it’s not necessarily like Apple would be breaking precedent by not releasing a new model after two years.
While the third-gen iPhone SE was released two years after the second, there was a four-year gap after the first model was released. Still, it’d be a bummer to see Apple let the line flounder again — especially since I was personally hoping the next model would be a revival of the iPhone Mini’s form factor, as my colleague Sean Hollister suggested.
One company that may not be sad to hear about the potential cancellation of a new iPhone SE is Qualcomm, which makes the 5G modems for current iPhones. Apple has reportedly been working on its own versions of the chips and, according to Kuo, planned on testing them in the next iPhone SE before bringing them to its flagship phones. He reports that Apple’s modems haven’t necessarily been performing as well as Qualcomm’s, sending the company back to the drawing board and making it likely that the 2024 iPhone 16 will still use Qualcomm modems — something backed up by the chipmaker’s own predictions that it wouldn’t be losing Apple as a major source of revenue until 2025.
This news is all worth taking with a grain of salt. 2024 is still a year away, and plans could always change. Plus, while Kuo is generally reliable, no source of rumors is perfect. He’s repeatedly pushed back his predictions for when Apple will release its virtual reality headset, saying that it’d come out in 2022, then January 2023. On Friday, he predicted that it may be delayed again due to “issues with mechanical component drop testing and the availability of software development tools.”
Still, if Kuo is right about either or both predictions, it paints an uncomfortable picture for Apple, especially when coupled with other reports like the one that Apple had to cut back its plans for the iPhone 14 Pro’s A16 chip because of rare engineering missteps. Its CEO, Tim Cook, is widely known for keeping a tight ship, especially when it comes to the supply chain. But those skills are being tested by the ongoing effects of the pandemic, a weakening economy, and prickly political situations around the world.