Prediction: Apple's best value iPhone will get an update soon

Will the new iPhone come with a higher price tag?

While the iPhone 13 gets the most media attention, it's hardly a budget handset. Starting at $799 for the iPhone 13 ($699 if you're happy with the tiny display on the iPhone 13 mini), it's hardly a phone for everyone -- even though it feels like everyone is hurling a thousand dollars at Apple for a smartphone these days.

Apple has quite the lineup of iPhones. At the top, we have the iPhone 13 and the Pro/Pro Max variants. Then there's the iPhone 12, the iPhone 11, and the iPhone SE. At $399 for the 64GB version, the iPhone SE is the cheapest iPhone that Apple sells.

But it's now coming up to its second birthday in April.

It's time for an update, and, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, it's coming Spring 2022.

This makes sense, despite the fact that it took Apple four years to release an update for the first-generation iPhone SE. Things are changing fast in the smartphone ecosystem today.

Even coming up to the 24-month mark, I don't recommend spending $399 on the current iPhone SE.

It's just too old.

It's a safe bet that Apple will update the aging A13 chip and pack the new iPhone SE with 5G.

These are pretty much givens.

But what about the other features that date the iPhone SE?

The first thing that really dates it is the inclusion of Touch ID. All the other iPhones have Face ID, and it seems unlikely that Apple would continue to offer it on the updated SE.

I think that this may very well be the end of the road for Touch ID.

Will the design change? I'd expect it to change, if for no other reason than to differentiate it from the older handset. My guess is that it'll look something like the iPhone 13 to appear fresh (even thought that itself is a recycled design), and the iPhone 14 will also get a refresh so no one confuses it with the new iPhone SE.

Also: The best 5G phones go head to head

With Apple, it's all about differentiation, even down to the design.

Better camera? Probably. Some display tweaks? Likely. Maybe a screen size bump? I expect it to still be an LCD display to keep the price down.

And while we're talking about price, is it still going to be $399?

It's tempting to wonder if this will change.

Apple could justify a price increase based on a number of things -- improved spec, component shortages, it's just awesome. And there's something to be said about not making it too cheap because that can reflect negatively on the brand.

Still, $399 seems high for a budget phone... but not for a budget iPhone. My guess is that Apple will keep the price where it is. It acts as a lure; people come interested in the iPhone SE but, perhaps, leave having spent more on a different model.

Set the price too low, and it becomes too good to miss. Set it too high, and it doesn't attract customers.

Fiddling too much with the price is counterproductive.

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