iPhone Mini: Can it be the new SE?

When Apple launched the iPhone SE first generation in 2016, in the “Let us loop you in” event, Apple executive Greg Joswiak stated “Apple has sold over 30 million 4-inch iPhones in 2015” explaining that few consumers still prefer compact phones. The design of the first-generation SE was like the iPhone 5S launched in 2013, but with the latest available chipset (A9 – same as in the 6S series launched in 2015) and several spec improvements. Meanwhile, there had been a shift in the form factor for Apple since the launch of the iPhone 6 in 2014, which featured a larger 4.7-inch display.  Hence, Apple was able to use the older form factor, bringing it to a lower price band – US$399, keeping it well differentiated from its more expensive line up. Consumers who wanted to enter the Apple ecosystem at a cheaper price point were happy to make the trade-off with the smaller display.

A similar trend followed in the launch of the iPhone SE 2 in 2020. The SE 2 came with a similar design to the iPhone 8 (launched three years before in 2017). Again, with the iPhone X and XR, there was a change in the design of iPhones, and the iPhone 8 form factor had become “old”. SE 2 also featured the latest available chipset which was A13 Bionic. However, the SE 2 was more than just a smaller iPhone. With Apple focusing on a service-driven business model, the iPhone SE provided an affordable entry point to Apple’s ecosystem and the A13 could provide best-in-class experience for all Apple’s services to its consumers. It helped in bringing new users to the iPhone installed base. It was also favored by many corporate buyers looking for a lower cost and therefore, lower risk platform to run enterprise applications.

SE was again refreshed in 2022 bringing 5G capability to the mid segment in Apple’s portfolio. It also featured the A15 bionic chipset. SE 2022 performed well in some markets like Japan and the US. However, it has not been as successful as SE 2. The form factor of SE 3 now looks dated and needs an upgrade. Over, the last few years, consumers are also preferring smartphones with larger display sizes. Considering the trend, Apple has in fact launched the iPhone 14 Plus with a larger display size.

In 2016, the average screen size of smartphones was 5.1 inches. This is when SE’s first generation was launched with a 4-inch screen. However, the average screen size of smartphones sold in 2020 was 6.2 inches and 2021 was 6.4 inches. While the SE second and third generation featured a 4.7 inch screen. The gap between the average display size and SE’s display size has been widening. Hence a larger display SE is due already. This is where the iPhone mini, with a 5.4-inch display might come in.

Exhibit – Average Display Size of Smartphones 2016 vs 2021

Source: Counterpoint Research Handset Model Sales

Apple launched the “mini” series with iPhone 12 and refreshed it in the iPhone 13 series. However, in terms of sales, its performance was underwhelming. From the launch, until Q2 2022, iPhone 12 mini contributed to less than 10% of 12 series sales, and iPhone 13 mini contributed less than 5% of iPhone 13 series sales. As a result, the mini-series was discontinued with the iPhone 14 launch. Likely, one of the main reasons for this underwhelming performance was the smaller display at a premium price point of US$699.

However, if Apple were to bring the ‘mini’ form factor at a lower price point of around US$429 in a refreshed SE model it would substantially change the value proposition. With the success of older generation SE devices, we have seen consumers are willing to accept some trade-offs of smaller displays in return for the overall Apple experience. Hence, re-spinning mini as a new SE would make a lot of sense. It would also allow Apple to amortize development costs related to the mini form factor such as tooling and other mechanical components.

One of the differentiating features of SE was including the latest available chipset, but in an older form factor. However, with the 14 series, Apple has shifted its strategy with only Pro models getting the latest A16 Bionic chip. While the USD prices have remained the same, there is now a wider gap between the Pro and the non-Pro models in terms of specs. A new SE, which will likely launch in 2024 (assuming the two-year SE refresh cycle), along with a larger display, will likely sport the latest available chip in the “non-Pro” iPhone models.

Note: This information is speculative and not based on any specific evidence or knowledge of Apple’s plans.


Related posts:

iPhone Mini: Can it be the new SE?
Apple iPhone 14 & Watch Series 8 focus on pro features, improved connectivity & safety
eSIM Only iPhone 14 is an Inflection Point for eSIM Adoption – Counterpoint Research
iPhone SE Gets 5G, A15 Bionic; Needs Design Revamp
New iPhone SE 5G to Open Up Mid-End Segments Across Key Regions 

Varun is a Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research based out of Gurgaon. In Counterpoint, he closely tracks mobile devices and ecosystem with a focus on Emerging Markets. He also tracks Global Refurbished Smartphone market. He started his career as a Consultant with Infosys Limited where he was able to identify strategic avenues for business growth through deep research and analysis of markets and companies in various domains. He holds a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad and a bachelors degree from Coventry University, UK.

Term of Use and Privacy Policy

Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited


In order to access Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited (Company or We hereafter) Web sites, you may be asked to complete a registration form. You are required to provide contact information which is used to enhance the user experience and determine whether you are a paid subscriber or not.
Personal Information When you register on we ask you for personal information. We use this information to provide you with the best advice and highest-quality service as well as with offers that we think are relevant to you. We may also contact you regarding a Web site problem or other customer service-related issues. We do not sell, share or rent personal information about you collected on Company Web sites.

How to unsubscribe and Termination

You may request to terminate your account or unsubscribe to any email subscriptions or mailing lists at any time. In accessing and using this Website, User agrees to comply with all applicable laws and agrees not to take any action that would compromise the security or viability of this Website. The Company may terminate User’s access to this Website at any time for any reason. The terms hereunder regarding Accuracy of Information and Third Party Rights shall survive termination.

Website Content and Copyright

This Website is the property of Counterpoint and is protected by international copyright law and conventions. We grant users the right to access and use the Website, so long as such use is for internal information purposes, and User does not alter, copy, disseminate, redistribute or republish any content or feature of this Website. User acknowledges that access to and use of this Website is subject to these TERMS OF USE and any expanded access or use must be approved in writing by the Company.
– Passwords are for user’s individual use
– Passwords may not be shared with others
– Users may not store documents in shared folders.
– Users may not redistribute documents to non-users unless otherwise stated in their contract terms.

Changes or Updates to the Website

The Company reserves the right to change, update or discontinue any aspect of this Website at any time without notice. Your continued use of the Website after any such change constitutes your agreement to these TERMS OF USE, as modified.
Accuracy of Information: While the information contained on this Website has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, We disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. User assumes sole responsibility for the use it makes of this Website to achieve his/her intended results.

Third Party Links: This Website may contain links to other third party websites, which are provided as additional resources for the convenience of Users. We do not endorse, sponsor or accept any responsibility for these third party websites, User agrees to direct any concerns relating to these third party websites to the relevant website administrator.

Cookies and Tracking

We may monitor how you use our Web sites. It is used solely for purposes of enabling us to provide you with a personalized Web site experience.
This data may also be used in the aggregate, to identify appropriate product offerings and subscription plans.
Cookies may be set in order to identify you and determine your access privileges. Cookies are simply identifiers. You have the ability to delete cookie files from your hard disk drive.