Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple has decided to move ahead with a proprietary ‘basebrand’ 5G chip for its iPhone SE 4, which should have a 6.1-inch screen.
Apple is apparently back in the business of making cheap[er] iPhones in its SE lineup, barely a month after analysts thought Apple had canceled work on the SE 4.
Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tweeted Monday that Apple is jumping back in the saddle with the iPhone SE 4 after initially canceling plans to offer a new phone in its line of lower-end devices. This new, lower end and somewhat cheaper phone should be available sometime in 2024.
The new iPhone SE will supposedly come with a 6.1-inch OLED display instead of the previous versions’ LED screen. It’s a major step up from previous versions of the phone, which sported a 4.7-inch frame. It’s the same size screen as the iPhone 14, so it may drop one of the biggest complaints with the last version of the SE.
But the news also offers an interesting look at Apple’s attempt to bring its 5G connectivity in-house. According to Kuo, that upcoming device will incorporate a 5G baseband chip designed by Apple itself. That 5G capability will be slightly limited, as Kuo wrote that Apple’s own chip only supports sub-6 GHz frequencies.
“The significant decline in Qualcomm’s Apple orders in the foreseeable future is a foregone conclusion,” the Apple analyst wrote.
This is all despite a report from Kuo in January that Apple was concerned it couldn’t compete with Qualcomm on those 5G chips, and was going to sink its own SE 4 plans. The mobile processor designer has long been an Apple supplier for its 5G chips. In a stage interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern at Mobile World Congress on Monday, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said that Apple should be developing its own 5G modem chipset. The last Qualcomm 5G chip will appear in the iPhone 15.
“We expect that Apple will do their own modem in 2024, but if they need ours, they know where to find us,” Amon told Stern.
There’s quite a bit at stake here for the Cupertino company. Apple’s iPad and Apple Watch both have less need for high frequency 5G connections. The iPhone 16 is another story. Kuo did mention that the 5G basebrand chip will need to overcome some technological limitations in order to have use in any new iPhone edition, specifically the chip’s apparent lack of mmWave support. This limits how much high-speed broadband access a phone can have.
The last budget-friendly iPhone SE Apple released was sized at 4.7 inches and had thick bezels. It contained the same chip that powered the iPhone 13, the A15 Bionic, which notably also included 5G support. That phone also did not have support for mmWave.
Whatever SE comes next will likely be derivative of the mainline iPhones. The next generation iPhone 15 is expected to have a newer updated Bionic chip, so whatever ends up going into the SE may be similarly positioned to offer a strong fight against other low-to-mid range phones, though it likely won’t have too great a camera, and it could lack other features like FaceID.