An Apple regulatory filing with the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) has revealed a collection of 11 new iPhone models destined for near-term release, Consomac reports today. The French blog speculates that a release may be imminent for the “iPhone SE 2,” a new low-end model designed to replace the current-generation iPhone SE, though the large number of new models suggests that something unusual is going on.
Back in February, the same site discovered an EEC regulatory filing for two upcoming iPad models, foreshadowing the March release of the sixth-generation iPad in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/Cellular flavors. The new filing shows 11 distinct new model numbers (none corresponding to an existing Apple product): A1920, A1921, A1984, A2097, A2098, A2099, A2101, A2103, A2104, A2105, and A2106. They are all listed as being Apple smartphones featuring iOS 11.
While the timing lines up for an update to the iPhone SE, which was originally introduced on March 21, 2016 and could easily be boosted with an A10-series processor and new cameras, the large number of models is perplexing. The current iPhone SE is offered in A1662, A1723 GSM, A1723 CDMA, and A1724 variants, and most iPhones are similarly made in four versions, each specifically tested with a different collection of LTE bands. Consequently, Apple seeking authorization for 11 new iPhones would appear to suggest either updates to multiple models or an unusual new antenna engineering strategy.
Generally respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo appeared to cast doubt on an iPhone SE 2 back in January, saying that Apple wouldn’t have the internal resources to develop a new model. If a followup did launch, he said, it would feature only minor tweaks such as a faster processor and lower price, but it wouldn’t add wireless charging or 3D sensing for Face ID.
The iPhone SE currently sells for $349 (64GB) or $449 (128GB), and comes in four colors. Recent reports have suggested Apple is relying on domestic production of low-cost models to spur growth in developing countries such as India, making the continued availability of entry-level, smaller-screened devices important.
As updates to low-end models like the SE generally take place through press releases rather than full events, an announcement could happen at any time. There was a roughly one-month gap between Apple’s last EEC regulatory filing and the official announcement of new iPads.