Apple iPhone surprise cancellation confirmed by new report

The iPhone SE is a staple of Apple’s smartphone lineup, with the third-generation model offering an affordable way to buy an iPhone. But it seems that the iPhone SE fourth-generation handset is not coming, ever.

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There had already been rumors from sources including trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TFI Securities that Apple was either canceling or at least postponing the fourth iteration of the iPhone SE (full details here). Kuo has now weighed in further on the topic, and it’s not good news for anyone waiting for an update to the SE series.

In a post titled “Qualcomm is the biggest winner from Apple’s 2024 iPhone SE 4 cancellation” on medium.com, Kuo now says things are more certain than before. He said: “The supply chain has received instructions from Apple indicating that production and shipment plans for the 2024 iPhone SE 4 have been canceled rather than delayed.”

In some ways this is no surprise: my suspicion was that postponement was less likely than cancellation.

The reason, it seems, is not that a cheaper iPhone was not a good idea, but rather the 5G chip planned for the new phone, it is claimed.

The principle of the SE phone has always been clear: take an existing iPhone design and squeeze the latest processor into it. Because design costs were minimal, it meant a lower price was possible, offering a phone with excellent performance but without the cutting-edge looks and features of the latest iPhones.

But the iPhone SE expected in 2024 should see the first output of Apple’s own internal 5G chip, says Kuo. This chip is in development now, but not quite up to snuff, the report claims, so this changed the intention to debut it on the SE 4 and then consider whether it should be in next year’s iPhone, the iPhone 16.

Kuo says: “Due to concerns that the performance of the internal baseband chip may not be on par with Qualcomm’s, Apple originally planned to launch its baseband chip in 2024 and let the low-end iPhone SE 4 adopt it first, and decide whether you will let the iPhone 16 use its baseband chip depending on the development status of the iPhone SE 4. However, the cancellation of the iPhone SE 4 has significantly increased the chances of Qualcomm remaining the exclusive baseband chip supplier for the new 2H24 iPhone 16 series, which is better than the market consensus that Qualcomm will start losing iPhone orders in 2024.”

This is not good news for anyone wanting an affordable iPhone that was newer than today’s iPhone SE. But, as Kuo says, it’s good news for Qualcomm, as it likely means the 5G modem will be in the iPhone 16 lineup.

The fourth-generation iPhone SE was believed to be based on the iPhone XR chassis, making it a noticeably larger alternative to the current SE. And its arrival would mean there would no longer be a Touch ID iPhone: everyone would use Face ID instead. Will Apple keep the existing iPhone SE hanging around longer as a result? Or could it update the SE at a later date, say 2025, and model it on a completely different iPhone? Time will tell.

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