Why it wouldn’t be so weird if Apple released a phone called the iPhone 5se

Image: Reuters/Yuya Shino
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In a few weeks, Apple is going to release a new phone that won’t be on its number-and-S release cycle. If reports are to be believed, it’s going to unveil a new, cheaper, edition of its now two-year-old iPhone 5S phone, called the iPhone 5se. (The “se” apparently stands for “special edition.”)

This name might seem bizarre, given the names Apple has given its phones to date (how does one even pronounce that—Fivesy?) but it actually has some historical ties to Apple’s early computer models.

The original “SE” Apple product.
The original “SE” Apple product.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Beavis~/CC BY-SA 2.5 IT

Back in 1987, Apple released a special edition of its Macintosh computer—Steve Jobs’ last big project before he left the company for the first time—which it called the Macintosh SE. It also released “IIc” and “IIGS” versions of its earlier Apple II computer—both of which are suffixes that the company has already used for iPhone models. (It also released a version called the “IIe”—which might prove useful if Apple is looking for another old name to recycle at some point.)

While it’s unclear why Apple would choose a naming structure that it hasn’t used in the last few decades, it does show that there is some precedent for the seemingly awkward “se” name.

Apple is reportedly holding a press conference to announce the new phone, among other things, sometime in the middle of March. Whether the phone is confirmed or not—we’ll just have to wait and “se.”