Updated: iPhone 5SE release date, news and rumors

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Update: Things are heating up. Apple just sent out invites for its March 21 event at its Cupertino, CA-based campus. And, of course, we’re already trying to crack the code on the image attached to it.

Apple event

It’s very possible that Apple is showing off the rose gold, pink and silver variations of its rumored iPhone SE. If true, these would be more subdued than the flashy, vibrant options available for the iPhone 5C.

Moving down to the language of the invite, our hopes fall off a bit for the SE. “Let us loop you in.” doesn’t really call out to its line of iPhones so much as it does to the Apple Watch.

We’ll just have to wait a few more days to see what Apple has whipped up.

Original article continues below…

Whatever Apple is going to call the new device, it’s likely readying the iPhone for this month.

According to the latest rumors it’ll ditch the iPhone 6C, 5E and 5SE names and typical September release date.The current thinking is Apple’s new 4-incher will be called the iPhone SE – but it’s still very much up for debate.

Below is what we know about this less expensive handset that’s said to be in production and has seemingly been caught on camera.

Apple hosted its annual iPhone launch on September 9, 2015, and while the main rumors suggesting the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus would be announced held true, we had heard rumblings that we’d see three iPhone models released this year.

The iPhone 6C has been long rumored, ever since the launch of the original “budget” iPhone model in 2013. While the iPhone 5C was designed purely as a more affordable iPhone, the iPhone 6C is likely to have more to differentiate it, with a smaller screen than either of the 6S models.

However, it was not to be, as Apple’s 2015 event came and went, delivering on the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, but no mention at all of a cheaper iPhone.

Does that mean the iPhone 6C dream is all but dead? Will this year be all about the iPhone 7C? Well not quite. All the rumors point toward it being called the iPhone 5SE as well. Catchy name, eh?

Currently the only way to get an iPhone with a 4-inch screen is to buy the aged iPhone 5S or iPhone 5C, the latter of which is already discontinued, so a future iPhone C model would likely be aimed both at those who want to save some money and those who want to save some pocket space.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The replacement to the iPhone 5C
  • When is it out? Likely March 21, 2016
  • What will it cost? Around US$500 (£340, AU$690)

iPhone 5SE release date

Early rumors suggested the iPhone 5SE would launch alongside the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, but alas that was not the case.

Instead it’s now tipped to arrive at an unconfirmed Apple event on or around March 21, according to the latest leaks. This is a week after earlier reports indicated Apple was planning a product unveil for March 15. It’s set to appear next to a new iPad and new Apple Watch bands.

Back this theory up, the iPhone 5SE (or perhaps it’ll be called the iPhone SE) was tipped for a 2016 launch, with IHS analyst Kevin Wang predicting a release date of mid-2016. Meanwhile anonymous Foxconn employees (the firm that actually builds iPhones) have been quoted saying the iPhone 5SE could by ready as early as this month.

Another rumor suggests Apple may launch the iPhone 5SE alongside the Apple Watch 2, or maybe just some new bands, at an event in March, which has been given a further boost after a roadmap from China Mobile suggest we’d see an iPhone 7C release date in April 2016, although it’s more likely to be called the iPhone 5SE.

According to Nikkei the iPhone 5SE is already in production and will launch this spring, so March is possible. We’re still taking all these rumors with a pinch of salt though as it’s unlike Apple to announce a phone earlier than September. That said, it may free up Apple to put all the focus on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus when it launches in September next year.

iPhone 5SE news and rumors

Several different sources have spoken of an iPhone 5SE, though there are still some voices of dissent.

When it does arrive it may have a lot in common with the iPhone 5, as a recent leaked image purports to show it alongside the iPhone 5, sporting a similar shape and design, albeit with rounder edges and Touch ID.

iPhone 6C

However it’s not totally clear what material the iPhone 5SE is made from in that image and it could well be more like the iPhone 5C in style, especially as there’s talk and even an image of a plastic shell.

iPhone 6C

If it does launch with a plastic body then there’s no doubt that it will be cheaper than Apple’s flagship phones, though how much cheaper remains to be seen.

Apple might even have leaked them phone itself, with a weird render showing an iPhone 5C-a-like bearing the unmistakeable TouchID button in the picture – but that seems a bit early for a phone that we won’t see until November, so let’s chalk that one up to a glitch in the matrix.

Apple iPhone 6C

The iPhone 5SE may also have been caught on video. A clip shared by MICGADGET and supposedly filmed inside Foxconn reportedly shows the phone. However to our minds it looks a little larger than 4 inches and it has exactly the same design as the iPhone 6S, so we’re not convinced that it isn’t just Apple’s latest flagship masquerading as a lower end phone.