Apple announces the new $399 iPhone SE for 2020

It looks like an iPhone 8, but it has more modern specs.

Apple has officially announced the new iPhone SE, a lower-cost iPhone that starts at $399 for a version with 64GB of storage. It has the same basic shape and look as the iPhone 8, which means it has a 4.7-inch screen, large bezels on the top and bottom, and a home button with Touch ID. It’s a design that has stayed consistent since the iPhone 6, which makes the iPhone SE essentially the fifth generation of that same look. Apple knows this design well.

It is available for preorder this Friday, April 17th, and it will ship on April 24th. There will be a 128GB model offered for $449 and a 256GB model for $549. Like other iPhones, it will come with a free year of Apple TV Plus. It will come in black, white, and Product Red.

The iPhone SE is essentially an iPhone 8 with a better camera and processor — and a lower price tag. Although it’s a relatively old design, this iPhone SE has Apple’s A13 Bionic chip, the same that’s available in the latest iPhone 11 and 11 Pro models.

That should ensure that it has a much longer lifespan than the $449 iPhone 8 model that it’s replacing in Apple’s lineup, which had an A11 chip from 2017. There won’t be a plus-sized version of the second-generation iPhone SE, but the iPhone 8 Plus will continue to be sold in certain markets.

The processor also lets the new iPhone SE gain some new camera features. There’s a single 12-megapixel camera lens on the back (along with a flash). Apple says it’s using the A13 Bionic’s chips to improve its Smart HDR photography, which combines multiple shots into a single photo to improve lighting and detail.

It also has a portrait mode with technology Apple calls “monocular depth sensing.” It uses machine learning to detect depth and faces — which, unfortunately, means that it will only work on people, not pets. It includes optical image stabilization, and Apple says it can do “cinematic” stabilization on video as well as support 4K video at 60fps. The front-facing selfie camera is 7-megapixels, and it can also do portrait mode effects.

Many of the new second-generation iPhone SE parts are identical to the iPhone 8. It should have about the same battery life as the iPhone 8 (but no word on exact battery size). Apple says that cases designed for the iPhone 8 will work fine on the SE. It has Apple’s 4.7-inch IPS LCD Retina display with True Tone color. It sounds as though it’s the exact same display as what’s on the iPhone 8.

IPHONE SE 2 SPECS

  • Screen: 4.7-inch True Tone display
  • Rear cameras: 12-megapixel single 6-element lens, features OIS, flicker sensor for white balance, focus pixels, HDR, and portrait mode for people, video recording at 4K/60fps
  • Selfie camera: 7-megapixel camera
  • Dimensions: 67.3 x 138.4 x 7.3mm, 148 grams
  • Processor: A13 Bionic 
  • Memory: TBD
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB
  • Battery: TBD
  • OS: iOS 13
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Gigabit LTE, Dual SIM with eSIM
  • Biometric authentication: second-generation Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • Wireless charging, Lightning connector, 5W charger included
  • IP67 protection

That’s not a problem from a quality perspective. This IPS display is well-known and well-regarded, but it does mean that people who were holding out for a smaller phone are out of luck. Apple says that this is the most popular screen size it has ever sold — 500 million devices and counting — and that’s part of the reason it’s using this screen size now.