Buy now or wait? Apple's new iPhone SE vs. the rumored 'iPhone 7'

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2016
It's one of the most common questions any prospective smartphone buyer asks: Should I buy now, or wait? The launch of the iPhone SE -- an uncharacteristic-for-Apple mid-cycle upgrade -- makes the answer slightly more complex this year.




tl;dr: If you prefer smaller phones, now is the time to buy the iPhone SE. If you want a larger screen and you can hold out, at this point you're probably better off waiting until September for the "iPhone 7" and skipping the iPhone 6s (or getting it at a discount).

It's been more than six months since the launch of the iPhone 6s. And while the iPhone 6s is a fantastic phone, we're now closer to the anticipated debut of an "iPhone 7" than we are to last year's launch of the iPhone 6s.

That puts prospective iPhone buyers in somewhat of a gray area. And for some, the launch of the iPhone SE may have muddied the waters even further.

For those unsure what to do, here's a helpful guide to deciding what's right for you.

Yes, there will still be an "iPhone 7" this fall



The launch of the new 4-inch iPhone SE has generated some anxiety that Apple may not launch a new flagship model this fall. Don't worry: All indications are that a full-fledged "iPhone 7" and "iPhone 7 Plus" are still in the cards.




What's it expected to have? The real selling point for most could be an all-new design. Apple has historically introduced an entirely new chassis with number upgrades, and this year it's expected to continue that tradition.

Inside, you can expect the usual array of enhancements, including a next-generation "A10" processor. The larger 5.5-inch "iPhone 7 Plus" is also expected to have more RAM for even greater performance.

The cameras will also see an upgrade, with rumors suggesting Apple is working on a dual lens design that could greatly improve stability and image quality, while also potentially adding an optical zoom function.

In all, the "iPhone 7" is expected to be a healthy upgrade from the iPhone 6s and the iPhone SE, which feature many of the same components.

Sizing up your options



The newly launched 4-inch iPhone SE will likely remain in Apple's lineup for awhile -- Apple isn't expected to revamp that form factor this year. And it may not even touch it next year either.

So if you were holding out hope for a new 4-inch iPhone, right now is the time to buy. Apple's latest update is powerful and competitively priced, and it's expected to remain as-is through the end of 2016 and beyond.




You'll also save a fair amount of money: The iPhone SE starts at just $399, while it's likely the "iPhone 7" will carry Apple's typical entry price of $649. Saving $250 and getting a phone six months sooner is nothing to sneeze at.

But if you prefer a larger phone or you're a bleeding-edge type of user, the issue is a little more complex. Apple is expected to launch its new "iPhone 7" in September, putting us currently smack dab in the middle of the iPhone 6s cycle.

Timing, timing, timing



If you can wait, and you prefer larger (and better) screens on your iPhone, you probably want to put away your wallet and be patient. The "iPhone 7" is expected to be a big upgrade -- the biggest since the iPhone 6.

Why wait? Well, if you're looking for the best in mobile technology, and you've already made it this long without an iPhone 6s, you'll be happier if you hold off.

Of course, not everyone can wait. Maybe your old iPhone 5s finally bit the dust. Maybe you dropped your iPhone 6 in the ocean and the cost of repairing it is prohibitive, but you still need a smartphone for the next six months. Maybe you don't really care about the latest and greatest.




For those buyers, the iPhone 6s is a great choice. You'll be happy with it. Just don't develop a sense of buyers' remorse come September, because there's always something new around the corner.

The headphone factor



Finally, let's touch on one persistent --?but unconfirmed -- rumor about the "iPhone 7." Namely, that it won't have a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack.

Even here, we think it's best to wait. If the "iPhone 7" truly does launch without a headphone jack, and that's a dealbreaker for you, the current iPhone 6s will almost assuredly drop in price by at least $100.

By waiting, you'll have the benefit of choosing between a new "iPhone 7," or a more affordable iPhone 6s. Given Apple's track record, that's likely to be a win-win situation.

Just remember: Patience is a virtue.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    I wanted to jump all over the SE because I love the classic design. But I have to wait to see what the 7 offers.
  • Reply 2 of 46
    i'm probably going to jump on the Se (Rose). 

    The money I save, not getting the 7, will pay for an AppleWatch for running the trails. Really need the HR monitor! :)

    Currently running a 4s on Ting.

    My cellphone bill is averaging $30/mo. As John Lennon used to say...."Dig it!"

    Best.
  • Reply 3 of 46
    jason98jason98 Posts: 763member
    iPhone 7 major "features":
    - No antenna lines
    - No ugly camera bump

    Pretty novel approach to innovation, let's break something first, then fix it with pride.
    edited March 2016 6Sgoldfish
  • Reply 4 of 46
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    If it's $649 for 16 GB iPhone 7 in the US that means it's be €699 for a 16GB iPhone 7 in Ireland. That's poor form from Apple if true. It should be €699 ($649) for 32 GB model and and additional 50 for the 64 GB model and an addition 100 for 128 GB model.

    In my experience the vast majority who get the 16 GB model of the latest handset are teenagers and they use phones the most. Therefore, and for other reasons a 16 GB 7 iPhone in 2016 is a poor product and Apple should not offer it for sale. The flagship iPhone this September should start with 32 GB. Apple already has the SE if customers want a more budget iPhone. No excuses for Schiller if it pans out like this and anyone who defends Apple on this will only embarrass themselves.

    Personally I think iPhone 7 should start with 64 GB and offer 128 (add 100) and 256 (add 249, ~€1,000).

    iPhones are no longer used like phones and should be viewed as computers. A 16 GB flagship iPhone computer in 2016 should not exist.
    edited March 2016 cnocbuijes42
  • Reply 5 of 46
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,595member
    ireland said:
    If it's $649 for 16 GB iPhone 7 in the US that means it's be €699 for a 16GB iPhone 7 in Ireland. That's poor form from Apple if true. It should be €699 ($649) for 32 GB model and and additional 50 for the 64 GB model and an addition 100 for 128 GB model.

    In my experience the vast majority who get the 16 GB model of the latest handset are teenagers and they use phones the most. Therefore, and for other reasons a 16 GB 7 iPhone in 2016 is a poor product and Apple should not offer it for sale. The flagship iPhone this September should start with 32 GB. Apple already has the SE if customers want a more budget iPhone. No excuses for Schiller if it pans out like this and anyone who defends Apple on this will only embarrass themselves.

    Personally I think iPhone 7 should start with 64 GB and offer 128 (add 100) and 256 (add 249, ~€1,000).

    iPhones are no longer used like phones and should be viewed as computers. A 16 GB flagship iPhone computer in 2016 should not exist.
    I think it is fine to offer a 16GB phone but Apple should make its limitations very clear. To sell a 16GB phone to people who simply do not understand the issues (parents who get the cheapest for their kids) only serves the purpose of creating dissatisfied customers. A 16GB phone is fine for some people who hardly take photos, never listen to music and who do not buy a huge amount of apps. In my experience these are not teen-agers but often their parents, or even grand parents.  
    jes42
  • Reply 6 of 46
    Or, if you can't wait because your phone fell in the water and you need a replacement now but were planning on getting the new iPhone in the fall, you get a cheaper refurbished iPhone 5S/6 in very good condition that you will be able to resell with minimum loss once the iPhone 7 comes out.
  • Reply 7 of 46
    i'm probably going to jump on the Se (Rose). 

    The money I save, not getting the 7, will pay for an AppleWatch for running the trails. Really need the HR monitor! :)

    Currently running a 4s on Ting.

    My cellphone bill is averaging $30/mo. As John Lennon used to say...."Dig it!"

    Best.
    If your desire is to have a heart monitor for running the trails, then buy a Fitbit Charge HR for about $139.  The battery lasts about a week and it syncs to your current iPhone.  It also tracks everything else about your fitness goals.  You can even track your sleep habits with the Fitbit.  But you can't do that with an Apple Watch because you have to charge it every single night.
  • Reply 8 of 46
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    paxman said:
    I think it is fine to offer a 16GB phone but Apple should make its limitations very clear.
    That size is simply too bad an experience for too many users to ship it in 2016. For a flagship iPhone, 32 GB should be the absolute minimum.

    Just as 64 GB was too small for MBA before Apple killed-off that model, 16 GB is (or will be) too small for a €699 phone from the apparent-best product company in the world in 2016. The experience is too bad for too many people.

    For Apple to be about the best experience 32 GB should be the base model iPhone 7. But like I say, I think 64 GB should be the base iPhone 7. It would be worshipped by reviewers (and customers) if the base offering is 64 GB and battery life was much improved at current iPhone 6s body-thickness. These low-hanging fruit are begging to be picked. I'm certainly not naive enough to think a base 64 GB model will happen however.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 9 of 46

    paxman said:
    ireland said:
    If it's $649 for 16 GB iPhone 7 in the US that means it's be €699 for a 16GB iPhone 7 in Ireland. That's poor form from Apple if true. It should be €699 ($649) for 32 GB model and and additional 50 for the 64 GB model and an addition 100 for 128 GB model.

    In my experience the vast majority who get the 16 GB model of the latest handset are teenagers and they use phones the most. Therefore, and for other reasons a 16 GB 7 iPhone in 2016 is a poor product and Apple should not offer it for sale. The flagship iPhone this September should start with 32 GB. Apple already has the SE if customers want a more budget iPhone. No excuses for Schiller if it pans out like this and anyone who defends Apple on this will only embarrass themselves.

    Personally I think iPhone 7 should start with 64 GB and offer 128 (add 100) and 256 (add 249, ~€1,000).

    iPhones are no longer used like phones and should be viewed as computers. A 16 GB flagship iPhone computer in 2016 should not exist.
    I think it is fine to offer a 16GB phone but Apple should make its limitations very clear. To sell a 16GB phone to people who simply do not understand the issues (parents who get the cheapest for their kids) only serves the purpose of creating dissatisfied customers. A 16GB phone is fine for some people who hardly take photos, never listen to music and who do not buy a huge amount of apps. In my experience these are not teen-agers but often their parents, or even grand parents.  
    Most parents and grandparents that I know LOVE to take pictures and shoot video of their kids and grandkids.  Teenagers take selfies with the low resolution camera.  You would be surprised how many adults love and enjoy using their iPhones.
    ireland
  • Reply 10 of 46
    ipilyaipilya Posts: 189member
    Am I the only one thinking that the top end storage capacity for the iPhone7 will be 256? When the iPad Pros came with 256.... that had a lot of meaning in my play book.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 11 of 46
    I have the 5s (32gb) and especially with iOS 9.3, it is working quite well.  I am committed to the 4" form, so my thought is to wait until the 7 comes out and see if the SE -- likely to be around for awhile -- drops in price then.
  • Reply 12 of 46
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,854member
    ireland said:
    No excuses for Schiller if it pans out like this and anyone who defends Apple on this will only embarrass themselves.

    Personally I think iPhone 7 should start with 64 GB and offer 128 (add 100) and 256 (add 249, ~€1,000)

    I assume you don't run a company that makes products? If you did, you might understand how pricing and margins work. You create a device with specifications to meet the projected margins you want to achieve. This is the actual "base" model. Then you say, "What can we do to offer a cheaper model - but make sure it isn't as appealing in order to enable up-selling? Then to make up for the loss of margins from that model, we'll also offer a higher end model."

    The 16GB model serves a clearly defined purpose; a less expensive entry model for those who don't need a lot of storage - it's that simple. You don't have to have a ton of storage if you're not interested in storing massive amounts of data on the device. The two biggest storage hogs are media (mainly movies) and gaming. Where might neither of these ever be needed in a mobile device? I'd guess the biggest market would be the enterprise where most data is accessed and stored in the company's cloud infrastructure and apps are created specifically for it.

    Would it be nice if Apple decided to bump up the storage space on all of its devices? Yes it would. Who wouldn't want more for less? However, I believe before Apple ever does that, it'll bump up the amount iCloud storage it gives its users for free.
    edited March 2016 felixer
  • Reply 13 of 46
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,854member
    dwharris said:
    I have the 5s (32gb) and especially with iOS 9.3, it is working quite well.  I am committed to the 4" form, so my thought is to wait until the 7 comes out and see if the SE -- likely to be around for awhile -- drops in price then.

    I'm thinking the SE model will be around for at least two years and the price will remain as is until it is finally upgraded. At that point, I doubt Apple will keep it around at lower price, just as with the 5S, they'll want to dump it in favor of pushing the latest SoC. Which is what this new model is all about, making sure it lasts. By keeping around older technology, you can sell for less, but you also eventually hold yourself back from needing to support those older devices. As of right now, everything Apple sells has at least an A8 with 1GB RAM (except the iPad mini 2 which has an A7). In three years time this will be the minimum requirements for iOS.
  • Reply 14 of 46
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    ireland said:
    If it's $649 for 16 GB iPhone 7 in the US that means it's be €699 for a 16GB iPhone 7 in Ireland. That's poor form from Apple if true. It should be €699 ($649) for 32 GB model and and additional 50 for the 64 GB model and an addition 100 for 128 GB model.

    In my experience the vast majority who get the 16 GB model of the latest handset are teenagers and they use phones the most. Therefore, and for other reasons a 16 GB 7 iPhone in 2016 is a poor product and Apple should not offer it for sale. The flagship iPhone this September should start with 32 GB. Apple already has the SE if customers want a more budget iPhone. No excuses for Schiller if it pans out like this and anyone who defends Apple on this will only embarrass themselves.

    Personally I think iPhone 7 should start with 64 GB and offer 128 (add 100) and 256 (add 249, ~€1,000).

    iPhones are no longer used like phones and should be viewed as computers. A 16 GB flagship iPhone computer in 2016 should not exist.
    32GB iPhone and 64GB for $50 more? Why would Apple want to both create cannibalization for 64GB and cut the margin at the same time? 
    If 32GB is true, you may not see 64GB but 128GB for the next tier and maybe 256GB for top tier with $150 jump for each tier. You see that in iPad Pro; you may see it in iPhone. Who knows? Apple may not release iPhone 7 this Fall but iPhone Pro (even the name sounds stupid) with no antenna line or camera hump and 5.8" screen.
  • Reply 15 of 46
    scxfanscxfan Posts: 8member
    Do you want big or do you want small?

    There won't be a small iPhone 7.

    If you want a small iPhone, buy an SE right now.

    Pretty simple.
  • Reply 16 of 46
    I'm on Android but greatly appreciate the level of competition between droids and fruits. Device-agnostic comments - no matter what you're waiting for...good practice is to wait minimum 2-3 months after release to see all the reviews and potential problems. you'll feel more confident about your purchase and be rid of early adoption anxiety. - Best practice is to buy 1 generation older right after the new release. You'll know everything there is to know about the device + prices at stores and online (especially like Swappa or eBay) will be VERY favorable to your budget (people, please stop buying on contract and Next-like programs...own your device!)
  • Reply 17 of 46
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 737member
    i'm probably going to jump on the Se (Rose). 

    The money I save, not getting the 7, will pay for an AppleWatch for running the trails. Really need the HR monitor! :)

    Currently running a 4s on Ting.

    My cellphone bill is averaging $30/mo. As John Lennon used to say...."Dig it!"

    Best.
    If your desire is to have a heart monitor for running the trails, then buy a Fitbit Charge HR for about $139.  The battery lasts about a week and it syncs to your current iPhone.  It also tracks everything else about your fitness goals.  You can even track your sleep habits with the Fitbit.  But you can't do that with an Apple Watch because you have to charge it every single night.
    Personally I charge my apple watch every morning when I shower and get ready for work. There are also multiple apps that allow you to track sleep with Apple Watch. AI also think that your statement about the battery in the Fitbit HR lasting a week is a bit " optimistic" from what I have read recently...
  • Reply 18 of 46
    If they couldn't eliminate the bump from iPad Pro 9.7", how are they going to eliminate it in the iPhone 7?

    But to answer the premise of this article:
    If you're still using a 4, 4S, 5 or 5S because you like a smaller screen but want a faster phone with a better camera - iPhone SE
    If you're using a 6 because you want a faster phone AND a larger screen - iPhone 7
    If you're using a 6S, but absolutely have to have the latest and greatest right now before anyone else, and don't care about expense - iPhone 7 
  • Reply 19 of 46
    2oh12oh1 Posts: 501member
    The premise of the article is dumb.

    If you want a 4 inch iPhone, buy now.  If you want a 4.7 or 5.5 inch iPhone, wait a few months and get the 7 or 7 Plus.  It's that simple.
  • Reply 20 of 46
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,884member
    ireland said:
    paxman said:
    I think it is fine to offer a 16GB phone but Apple should make its limitations very clear.
    That size is simply too bad an experience for too many users to ship it in 2016. For a flagship iPhone, 32 GB should be the absolute minimum.

    Just as 64 GB was too small for MBA before Apple killed-off that model, 16 GB is (or will be) too small for a €699 phone from the apparent-best product company in the world in 2016. The experience is too bad for too many people.

    For Apple to be about the best experience 32 GB should be the base model iPhone 7. But like I say, I think 64 GB should be the base iPhone 7. It would be worshipped by reviewers (and customers) if the base offering is 64 GB and battery life was much improved at current iPhone 6s body-thickness. These low-hanging fruit are begging to be picked. I'm certainly not naive enough to think a base 64 GB model will happen however.

    Ridiculous comment. The storage amount has nothing to do with the device's performance only how much stuff you can store on it. So, the only bad experience will be for those who neeed more storage.  Some people don't take a lot of photos or if they do offload them to a computer or cloud storage. Some people only stream videos and never download videos and if they do, they delete it when it's finished. Some people have a handful of games they play. There are many customers for whom 16GB is plenty. 16GB may not be enough for you, but stop projecting your use case on the entire customer base.
    felixer
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