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Apple Cancels the iPhone SE 4 Just as the iPhone 14 Catches Up on Production

Apple's overseas supply chain woes have improved. There's rumblings the iPhone 15 is also getting its trial run.

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A photo of the iPhone SE 3
The iPhone SE 3 is a nice device! But Apple wants it to be even nicer to update in 2024.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Leave it to Apple to make headlines during CES 2023 even though it wasn’t exhibiting with the rest of the tech world. While we were covering the conference, Apple made moves in iPhone manufacturing. We learned that the iPhone SE probably won’t be getting a refresh next year and that the iPhone 15 has already started production. There’s also good news for folks still hoping to upgrade to the iPhone 14/14 Pro models, as Apple is back to churning them out overseas.

Is the iPhone SE gone for good?

Last week, trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple has canceled 2024's iPhone SE refresh. The company is concerned that its “in-house baseband chip” isn’t enough to compete with Qualcomm’s respective hardware. The idea was to have the 2024 iPhone SE debut Apple’s foray into networking for its lower-end devices, which would eventually pave the way for its flagships. Ultimately, the goal is for Apple to not rely on third parties for internal hardware.

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On the flip side, Kuo thinks this could be a boon for Qualcomm’s chip business, which will likely still supply Apple with chips for the iPhone and its Android manufacturing partners.

For Apple, this could be an excellent time to determine whether there’s a need for the iPhone SE model. Last year’s iPhone releases included two sizes for each tier. With Apple’s strong track record of delivering software updates to aging devices, it’s easy to see folks buying an entry-level iPhone for a loved one instead of the iPhone SE, which offers middling camera performance compared to the rest of the lineup, plus a lack of FaceID and other coveted premium features. The determining factor for this will be in the overall sales numbers this year, while the iPhone 14/14 Pro sits on the shelf. Can Apple get away with two premium models against Android’s landscape of low-end phones?

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iPhone 14/14 Pro back in action

Speaking of which, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro are back on the manufacturing line, according to Bloomberg. Foxconn faced a whirlwind of issues exacerbated by stringent COVID lockdowns overseas and restless employees who just wanted to be home while feeling sick. Analysts had foretold that we’d see production get back into the groove by January 2023, and it seems they were right on track. Foxconn said it has about 200,000 workers currently on the line.

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iPhone 15 starts its manufacturing journey

Since Foxconn workers are back, the iPhone 15 is now in preparation for release later this year—as per Apple’s usual annual release schedule. However, the iPhone 15 is in its “initial stage,” which will help Foxconn work to tune the assembly process for when Apple is ready for full-force production.

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9to5Mac pulled this data from Economic Daily News, the first to report on Foxconn’s trial production of the iPhone 15. There are also murmurings that the “Pro Max” name will become “Ultra” instead, but the display sizes won’t change much from what’s available now. The Dynamic Island is also expected to arrive on the base model iPhone 15, which would make all those apps that came out for it much more useful in the long term.