iPhone SE release date: Apple officially announces March event where it will show off new smaller phone and iPad

The long-rumoured event is also expected to include Apple Watch bands and updates to Apple Pay

Apple has officially announced its next event on 21 March, where it is expected to unveil a huge range of new products.

The centrepiece of the event is expected to be the iPhone SE — a new, smaller handset that looks mostly like an iPhone 5 but packs in iPhone 6 and 6s level specifications. But the event is also rumoured to include an updated iPad, new Apple Watch bands and updates to Apple Pay.

Rumours have suggested that the new devices will be released very soon after they are unveiled, and could hit shops early the following week.

The date might also see the final release of iOS 9.3, the company’s new update to the iPhone and iPad operating system. That software — which has been available to early testers for weeks — includes a special night mode as well as other small improvements.

The event was announced with an invite to the press that included a cryptic message: “Let us loop you in”. That could be a reference to the new Apple Watch accessories that are expected to be revealed, or to the fact that the event could be the last to be held at its Cupertino headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop — before it moves to its huge, new campus.

The event might be overshadowed by Apple’s major hearing the next day, which will form a major part of its ongoing dispute with the FBI. The company and the US Department of Justice wil appear in front of a judge as part of the case around the San Bernardino shooters phone on 22 March.

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