iPhone SE promises the power and functionality of flagship smartphones but with a smaller screen and longer battery life
Apple hopes to attract more Android converts, first time smartphone owners and customers in emerging markets with the iPhone SE, a four inch mid-range smartphone.
While most smartphones have increased in size over the past few years, the iPhone SE bucks the trend by reverting to a form factor seemingly abandoned long ago by high-end handsets.
Apple claims to have sold more than 30 million four inch devices in 2015, but its most recent models have all been considerably larger, including the iPhone SE’s spiritual predecessor, the iPhone 5C, which debuted in 2013.
“Our four inch iPhone is actually an important part of our line up,” said Apple’s Craig Federighi. “Some people just want smaller phones.”
The new device has the same 64-bit A9 processor as the iPhone 6S, affording the iPhone SE a significant boost in speed and graphics power over Apple’s existing entry level devices. It has a Touch ID fingerprint sensor that can be used with Apple Pay, a 12 megapixel rear-facing camera and a FaceTime HD front facing lens.
When taking a selfie, the display will even become three times brighter to give an effect similar to that of a true flash.
The iPhone SE also supports up to 150Mbps LTE where available and 802.11ac Wi-Fi for faster networking.
But despite the added power, Apple promises a significant boost in battery life when compared to other models. It advertises 13 hours of use on 4G, 13 hours on Wi-Fi and up to ten hours on standby.
“We’ve added an incredible array of technology to the iPhone SE,” added Federighi. “It’s the most incredible four inch phone ever.”
The iPhone SE will be available in four colours and in 16GB and 64GB variants, the cheapest of which costs £359 without a contract. Pre-orders will start in the UK from the 24 March and the device will hit the shelves a week later on 31 March.
EE, Three and Vodafone have all confirmed to TechWeekEurope that they will offer the iPhone SE from launch.
Experts say the new device will “strike fear into the hearts” of Apple’s competitors.
“The launch of the iPhone SE should be read as a retaliation – a battle cry to the Chinese challenger brands that have taken a bite out of Apple in recent months,” said Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch. “Targeted at Millennials with smaller budgets, the SE offers a fully-formed iPhone experience for around £170 cheaper than its flagship.
“Apple’s been there before, mind. The iPhone 5c was supposed to be a cheap and cheerful iPhone but raised eyebrows when it launched because it was only £80 cheaper than the flagship 5s back in 2013.
“But this time around, Apple has priced the SE cleverly at the sweet spot for instant sales, meaning there is no reason why this four-inch handset and its chamfered edges shouldn’t fly off the shelves from the word go.”
“The iPhone SE stands to become the new workhorse in the iPhone portfolio,” added Geoff Blaber, Vice President, Americas at CCS Insight. “It addresses a new price point and plays a critical role in bringing new users into the Apple ecosystem.
Apple also used the event in California to show off a 9.7-inch version of the iPad Pro, new bands for the Apple Watch and detail the latest version of iOS 9.3, which is available for free for compatible iPhones from today.
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