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Apple Inc. Rumored to Be Prepping iPhone SE Upgrade With 4.2-Inch Screen

By Ashraf Eassa - Feb 21, 2018 at 9:30AM

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Is this rumor legit?

According to a rumor from Chinese website QQ, Apple (AAPL 1.62%) is expected to launch a successor to its lowest-end iPhone -- the iPhone SE -- in June at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) event. 

The device, QQ reports, will incorporate Apple's A10 applications processor, which first debuted in the company's iPhone 7 series smartphones in September 2016. The current iPhone SE uses Apple's less-advanced A9 processor. 

Apple's iPhones in a mosaic pattern.

Image source: Apple.

Apple is also likely to incorporate other hardware upgrades, such as a faster cellular modem and better cameras. QQ claims that the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the device will be upgraded to the second-generation version that first debuted with the iPhone 6s in September 2015. 

The most interesting bit in this report, though, is that the display of this upgraded iPhone SE will get bigger, measuring 4.2 inches along the diagonal, up from just 4 inches. This display, QQ claims, will also have a higher resolution -- a natural consequence of making the screen bigger while maintaining roughly the same sharpness. 

Although 9to5Mac calls this report "sketchy" and even says that the rumored screen size increase "makes no sense at all," I think it makes perfect sense. Here's why. 

Bigger is better

One of the main selling points of the iPhone SE when it was introduced in March of 2016 was that it was significantly more compact than the company's flagship iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models. Some customers simply preferred smaller smartphones and the iPhone SE was a way to get those customers who may have been stubbornly holding onto their iPhone 5/5c/5s devices to finally upgrade. 

However, another draw of the device -- and I think one that became more important over time -- was that it is quite affordable. Today the entry-level iPhone SE costs just $349. The iPhone SE allowed Apple to compete at price points that it previously didn't, something that's especially important in large, developing markets like India

Over the long term, I think Apple will continue to evolve the iPhone SE series of smartphones to even more effectively capture share in markets where the company's ultra-expensive flagship iPhone models simply can't gain much traction. 

To that end, considering the continued shift in consumer preferences to larger-screen smartphones, it makes sense for Apple to make the display on the next-generation iPhone SE a little bit bigger. Doing so could help to boost sales, as obvious form factor and display size changes are likely more interesting selling points to customers than upgraded internals. 

Additionally, the screen-to-body ratio of the iPhone SE is quite low, thanks to the gigantic bezels on the device (particularly on the top and bottom of the phone). I wouldn't be surprised if Apple reworked the design of the new iPhone SE to fit in roughly the same physical footprint as the current iPhone SE by shrinking the bezels. 

All told, an iPhone SE successor with better internals, a bigger screen, and possibly a more attractive design could be a great way for Apple to try to boost its smartphone market share, especially in emerging markets.

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