Apple Raises Price For Entry-Level iPhone SE

Apple’s ‘Peek Performance’ launch event last night has, as expected, revealed its third generation iPhone SE, boasting a number of modest improvements.

Apple launched the updated low-cost iPhone SE line on Tuesday that included 5G capabilities, and the A15 Bionic chipset, which is also found in the iPhone 13 series.

There was a number of other incremental and minor upgrades. And some may have been disappointed that Apple raised the price by $30 of its entry-level smartphone from $399 (£389) for the 2020 64GB version, to $429 (£419) for the 2022 64GB handset.

Apple iPhone SE

There may have been surprise as well that Apple opted not to change the home button Touch ID approach t, in favour of Face ID approach that utilises a notch cut-out in the top of the screen.

Instead the third generation iPhone SE still looks like the classic iPhone 8 design, which Apple marketeers have labelled an “iconic design”.

So what exactly has Apple delivered with the new handset?

Well Apple has added the A15 Bionic processor, a longer battery life, 5G, and improved durability.

The handset itself has a 47inch display with the familiar Home button with Touch ID. There is a new 12 megapixel camera system, and the new handset is made with recycled materials.

“iPhone SE has been an incredibly popular choice with our existing users and for new iPhone customers, thanks to its iconic design, exceptional performance, and affordable price,” said Kaiann Drance, Apple’sVP of worldwide iPhone product marketing.

“This year we’ve built the most powerful and durable iPhone SE yet, with better battery life thanks to A15 Bionic, the same chip as our iPhone 13 lineup that also unlocks advanced camera features like Smart HDR 4, Photographic Styles, and Deep Fusion,” said Drance.

“And with 5G, iPhone SE gives users faster downloads and uploads, higher quality video streaming, real-time interactivity in apps, and much more,” said Drance. “Delivering the latest generation of technology and performance at this price is something only Apple can do.”

The iPhone SE comes in three colours, namely midnight, starlight, and red. It comes in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB models, starting at $429.

It will be available for pre-order 11 March, with availability from 18 March in many markets.

Other announcements

There were a few other announcements made by Apple during the event, which it should be remembered was Apple first product launch event of 2022.

Besides the updated iPhone SE, Apple also added two new colours for the iPhone 13, namely alpine green and green.

Apple also updated the iPad Air to include the Apple designed M1 chip to deliver a performance boost to the tablet.

The update iPad Air also features the new Ultra Wide front camera with Centre Stage for a more natural video conferencing experience, as well as a USB-C port with up to 2x faster transfer speeds.

But the most noteworthy arrival was the unveiling of the all-new Mac Studio and Studio Display.

The Mac Studio and Studio Display are an entirely new Mac desktop and display designed for content creators and power users.

The Mac Studio is powered by Apple’s M1 Max and the newly announced M1 Ultra, the world’s most powerful chip for a personal computer.

Apple lastly added ‘Friday Night Baseball’ to Apple TV+.

Diverse mix

So what did industry watchers and analysts make of the new updates?

Ben Wood, independent tech analyst at CCS Insight noted that “Apple’s events are becoming an ever more diverse mix of news spanning chips, devices, software, content and services. This event was no different, but the star of the show was not the iPhone SE or even the new Mac Studio but the silicon these products are built on.”

“A key driver for Apple in releasing the iPhone SE is the need to add 5G capability to Apple’s entry level phone,” noted Wood. “Support for 5G is imperative for operators in Apple’s most successful markets, such as the US where carriers will have pushed for this.

“Apple’s decision to uses its A15 Bionic chipset in the iPhone SE contrasts the approach taken by rival smartphone makers who tend to use less powerful chipsets in cheaper devices,” said Wood. “However, at $429, the iPhone SE is a long way from the sub $200 5G Android smartphones currently offered by several Chinese manufacturers. Apple’s entry-level iPhone would be considered a flagship product by many rival manufacturers.”

“The decision to keep Touch ID rather than implementing Face ID in interesting,” said Wood. “It’s unclear whether this is down to cost or that Apple’s research that shows more conservative iPhone owners prefer to unlock the phone with their fingerprint. That said, it also offers a very tangible point of differentiation from Apple’s more premium iPhone models and is easier to use in a world where mask-wearing has been the norm.”

Ben Wood also took note of the new silicon from Apple.

“The performance of the new M1 Ultra chip is remarkable,” said Wood. “It is a reminder of Apple’s prowess in semiconductor design and Apple Silicon’s pivotal role in the “finished product” advancements it enables.

He concluded with the Mac Studio / Studio Display.

“Those who don’t understand the high-end Mac franchise will doubtless be outraged by the $6,000 price tag for an entry level Mac Studio M1 Ultra and Studio Display, but the reality is that the pricing is more than affordable for post-production houses in the film and music industries,” said Wood. “It’s a rounding error compared to the price of a high-end production grade camera.”

“Given Apple’s reach with the ProRes codec in digital cinema workflows, I’d expect the upgrade to M1 Ultra will play heavily during the next upgrade cycle,” said Wood. “The Studio Display is an impressive new contender in the professional display market. The P3 colour gamut will be attractive to post-production workflows, at a very reasonable price.”

Silicon advantage?

Another analyst, Forrester VP and principal analyst Julie Ask noted that Apple continued with its playbook of moving features, processors, cameras and more from high end or premium devices into their entry level products.

“Apple’s silicon gives them an inherent advantage in performance such as speed, latency, and on-device features such as facial recognition, computer vision, and natural language processing,” said Ask. “Their silicon strategy also allows them to deliver power-efficient devices with slim form factors. Fundamentally, designing and owning their chipsets will give them long-lasting advantages for performance, power-efficiency and cost.”

“Moreover, as we look into the future, we imagine a more decentralized Web experience where not only professionals, but millions of consumers are also creating content,” said Ask. “There is already so much media buzz around the metaverse and more immersive experiences.”

“Consumers are shooting video, designing and building games and producing albums at home,” said Ask. “Each year, consumers spend more time online. Where they consume media – which
devices, platforms, and channels – has never been more fragmented.”

“Apple continues to position itself well for our future lifestyles,” she concluded.

Forrester also offered some insight into consumers’ purchasing decisions. It found that

  • 44 percent UK online adults who use a smartphone use iOS (Apple) operating system in their primary smartphone, 54 percent use Android.
  • 40 percent UK online adults who have purchased a smartphone in the past 6 months have purchased Apple iOS smartphone.
Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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