I know they'll never put the SE on a yearly schedule (they don't need to), but I would love to see a new one every two years, maybe in the spring? Even if it's using the same body, at least give the processor/storage/camera any needed-after-two-years tweaks.
At least then, like the fall flagship models, people would know "okay, there will be a new SE in about five months...I'll just sit tight". Right now it's so random, it's the one iPhone you can't plan a purchase on/around. I remember that second-generation model just popped up out of nowhere one morning. Anyone who'd just bought the three-year-old first-generation model a month earlier had to be feeling that one.
"Guys, throw me a bone here...I would've waited another 30 days if I had any idea a larger model with a four-generation newer processor was looming!"
Putting these things on a predictable cycle, even 24 months apart, would be nice. Flagship iPhones every autumn, the affordable SE every other spring (with the processor from the previous fall's iPhone release, since it has to go two full years with it.
Fall 2021: iPhone 13 with A15
Spring 2022: iPhone SE third-generation with A15
Fall 2022: iPhone 14 with A16
Spring 2023: N/A *crickets*
Fall 2023: iPhone 15 with A17
Spring 2024: iPhone SE fourth-generation with A17
...and so on.
I don't think anyone would have a problem with that.
And while $399 isn't $699+ flagship prices, it could be a fairly reliable, predictable purchase pattern that Apple could count on.
I could totally get on board that. I'd happily shell out $399 every other April/May to have an iPhone that current/capable (and predictable in its release; just drop $20 into a dedicated "iPhone fund" cookie jar every month, and in two years there's about $480 cash available*, enough for the phone, sales tax and any accessory I may want. Sell my previous model and put that money in the jar to prime the pot for the next go around, making it to where maybe I just had to put in $10/month?
I could spend the rest of my life doing that, and have a paid-for iPhone never more than two years/one processor generation old.
*I'm kinda big on paying cash as I go for anything I can. I'm not going to charge a $400 phone or put it on monthly installments with AT&T and bloat my monthly bill...I'll save, do a few freelance gigs, mow an extra yard or three, etc. and just buy it outright, cash. I sleep better, and enjoy the lowest possible monthly bill possible.