In general, the iPhone is considered an expensive luxury – especially if you opt for the Pro models that cost more than a thousand apiece.
But there’s an option for bargain hunters: the iPhone SE. Released last year, the third-generation SE uses the same A15 chip as the regular iPhone 14, making it just as fast but significantly cheaper at £449 thanks to some cut features.
For many people, “smartphone” means “iPhone”, and the SE is a good option if you’re on a tight budget. Unfortunately, it looks like Apple is giving up on the phone, and the third-generation SE could be the last for the foreseeable future.
That’s according to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst who has a disturbing record of predicting Apple’s moves. In his latest post on Medium, Kuo writes that his supply chain sources confirm that Apple has canceled plans to manufacture and ship the next iPhone SE, which is expected to be released in 2024.
Why is Apple stopping production of cheap iPhones?
Reason? The latest iPhone SE struggled to sell, and consumers apparently weren’t thrilled with its heavy bezel and small screen.
The aforementioned design looked sleek enough in 2016, when Apple’s alternative iPhone 7 still had a home button and large borders. But that design has barely changed in the next two SE phones, and there’s no doubt it looks outdated six years later.
While Apple reportedly intended to upgrade the phone in 2024, with a design mimicking the 2018 iPhone XR (Face ID and all), such a move would cost Apple money and raise the price for consumers.
Since customers weren’t buying the current SE, it was clearly not a gamble worth taking. Although Apple may regret it if the cost of living crisis hits harder than expected over the next 18 months and consumers accept that the £1,000 smartphone is no longer a priority.
Is it worth switching to Android?
Assuming Kuo is right and the iPhone SE is gone, what should you do when it comes time to change phones if money is tight?
The obvious answer is to switch to Android. With dozens of manufacturers pumping Android smartphones in all shapes and sizes, you should be able to find something that fits your budget and needs. Google even has step-by-step instructions for transferring data from iPhone to Android, which should make the transition relatively painless.
The direct competitor to the iPhone SE is Google’s Pixel series, with the latest Pixel 6a currently costing around £299. If that’s still too rich for your blood, then Xiaomi’s upcoming Redmi Note and Poco series are even cheaper and are solid budget options if you’re happy with the Chinese brand or maybe Nokia instead.
But if the idea of ditching iOS makes you break out in a cold sweat, it’s worth pointing out that you don’t need the latest and greatest iPhone. Apple offers a heroic level of long-term support for its devices, with the latest version of iOS already available in the 2017 iPhone 8.
Apple’s A chips also routinely beat their Android counterparts in benchmark tests (aided by Apple’s advantage of building both hardware and software for maximum performance), so buying an older iPhone cheap isn’t a bad move at all.
Apple still sells the iPhone 12 on its website, but third-party retailers still have the iPhone Xs and 11. While neither will last as long as the latest phone, it could prove to be a good alternative to the SE if you really already have he’s not there.
Finally, it’s always worth keeping an eye out for big sales windows, as many January sales are still going on. While SIM-free iPhones rarely move up in price, you might be surprised at what you can pick up on a deal. Just be sure to multiply your monthly fee by the number of months your contract is in (usually 24, but sometimes sneakily 36) to see how much you’re paying overall – if that’s less than the SIM-free price, you’re on the winner.