Forget the iPhone 16, Apple has something much better

With the launch of Apple Intelligence, Apple is ready to enter the world of AI-powered smartphones. While the iPhone 16 Pro will be the workhorse, Tim Cook and his team will make sure the iPhone 16 can deliver on the same promise. But there’s a better iPhone waiting in the wings that offers value for money, new hardware, and the power of AI to Apple’s loyal customers… the next-generation iPhone SE.

The iPhone SE has always been popular, offering the benefits of Apple’s ecosystem and hardware in a smartphone with an attractive price point. The tone was set in 2016 with the first iPhone SE based on the iPhone 5S design, the second in 2020 based on the iPhone 8, and the third in 2022 based on the same iPhone 8 design but offering the same chipset as the then-current iPhone 13.

An iPhone SE for 2025 will be just as popular, possibly even more popular than previous models, given the ever-increasing price of Pro iPhones.

Specs-wise, we’re likely looking at a smaller iPhone 14, but smaller than the vanilla and Pro models, which many will appreciate. After all, not everyone wants a super-sized smartphone. Given the three-year gap between this SE and the previous version, you can expect many of Apple’s hardware improvements to be included; there’s a chance we’ll see a larger 48-megapixel main camera, the first use of the notched display on an SE, and the same fast-charging battery technology expected on the iPhone 16.

The biggest step forward may be in the display. While previous SE models were marketed with cheaper, less vibrant LCD panels, the 2025 edition should also feature an OLED display.

The iPhone 16, by its nature, has been a limited device in the past. Apple puts the latest and greatest tech available into the Pro models, which will be the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max this year. There’s always been a balance between keeping the standard iPhone 16 at a high enough spec to be considered a good enough iPhone while leaving enough headroom to create demand for a more expensive Pro model.

In previous years, this meant using an older generation of Axx chipsets, reducing storage options for consumers, and keeping memory specifications as low as possible. This is no longer the case, as the need to support generative AI demands the latest Apple Silicon and increased memory to enable as much processing as possible on a local device.

If the iPhone SE is going to support Apple Intelligence, it will need the same core specs as the iPhone 16, especially in terms of Apple Silicon. The iPhone SE has already had the same chipset as the mainline and it’s more than likely that will be the case with this generation as well.

After all, if AI is the future, then Apple Intelligence needs to be everywhere. And for it to be everywhere, it needs to be supported by the iPhone SE.

There’s also the question of the timing of generative AI. Apple’s flashy Intelligence was unveiled at last month’s Worldwide Developers Conference and will play a role in iOS 18. But while iOS 18 will be available to the public when the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro launch in September, critical AI components aren’t scheduled to appear until the first quarter of 2025.

The Apple community may be expecting an “AI boom” in sales of the iPhone 16, one of the first AI-powered iPhones, but there are no signs in the supply chain that Apple is planning to increase the order book. If Apple is waiting until Q1 2025 to start the revolution, wouldn’t it be better to wait until then to see what form that revolution will take?

If you want the extra power and full capability of the iPhone platform, you’ll be looking at the iPhone 16 Pro or iPhone 16 Pro Max, and there’s little point in looking any further. If you’re looking to maximize value for money, the iPhone SE will be a better choice than the iPhone 16, and thanks to the late arrival of Apple Intelligence, there’s no real advantage to buying your next iPhone before then.

Now read the latest iPhone, iPad and App Store headlines in Forbes’ weekly Apple Loop news roundup…

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