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iPhone SE 2 backplate prototype surfaces

by on15 May 2017

Single-lens camera design similar to iPhone 7

Apple is expected to release a second-generation refresh of its popular iPhone SE, which has enjoyed robust sales in the low-end market worldwide and has now cut into the sales of higher-priced iPhone units in the US.

An image surfaced earlier this week from a Weibo user showing what appears to be the rear panels of several redesigned iPhone SE units. While there is no way to verify the authenticity of the source, the printed parts sheet in the background says the panels are made of Ion-X glass. This is the same material Apple uses in the Apple Watch, which is very similar to Gorilla Glass found in many smartphone displays.

weibo iphone se n79 prototype


The parts sheet also lists the codename as N79. Apple has a tendency to begin its iPhone codenames with “N” followed by a two-digit number. For instance, the iPhone 6 was N61, iPhone 6 Plus was N56, iPhone 6S was N71 and iPhone 6S Plus was N66. More recently, however, the company switched to using nearby locations as codenames for iPhone 7 (Sonora) and iPhone 7 Plus (Dos Palos), similar to what it does with Mac OS X releases.

Design similar to iPhone 7 suggests 4.7-inch display

Based on the back-panel prototypes, the purported iPhone SE refresh will include a ridge-less cut out for a single-lens camera with an LED flash sensor right beneath. Due to the Ion-X glass construction similar to an Apple Watch, others have suggested that the material is ready to support wireless charging and this may be a feature included with the handsets this year.

Overall, the design appears very similar to the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, which could indicate a panel size upgrade from the existing iPhone SE’s 4-inch screen. As reporters have mentioned over the past year, the size of Apple’s entry-level device is the least of its worries – the current base price of $399 for the 16GB version is simply too high for non-subsidized pricing in developing areas. While customers have the option of paying for a carrier-locked model on a 2-year contract, fewer of them are going to be willing to upgrade at the same frequency as in years past unless the base price drops substantially.

Device may arrive in 2H 2017

Last year, noted KGI securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that Apple will not release a second-generation iPhone SE in the first half of 2017. In other words, he suggests a release will  not happen before the end of June. Other sources are more apt to conclude that the low-end device could release simultaneously with flagship iPhone hardware later this fall.

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