What is the iPhone SE? and why is Apple releasing it?

If there is something I used to hear a lot when I asked, “Why do you love the iPhone”, it was that it was small and fits in the palm unlike other ‘huge’ devices. Well, with the release of the iPhone 6, I have stopped hearing that; and the claim that Apple would always stick to their “perfect palm sized design” seemed to disappear.

Here we are, March 21st, and Apple has just announced the release of the iPhone SE; an iPhone that is claimed to be both smaller, and cheaper. Tim Cook has estimated that 60% of those using Apple’s smaller iPhones have not yet upgraded to an iPhone 6 or newer. This means that there is undoubtedly a large potential market for an upgrade. Especially considering the iPhone SE has double the processing power and four times the graphics performance of the iPhone 5S, as well as longer battery life. It essentially resembles an iPhone 5S with 6S internals.

Some people simply love smaller phones. And the 4in phone is often their first iPhone. Some people asked and pleaded with us. So we’re calling it, the iPhone SE. Our most powerful ~ Greg Joswiak

The only phone that I can personally think of that may compete with the SE in the premium market would be Sony’s Xperia Z5 Compact, a phone that many “small phone enthusiasts” have resorted to.

Tim Cook at WWDC 2015

There is a few concerns surrounding this release though:

  • This phone is reminiscent of a previous iPhone, the 5C. Apple heavily relies on high expectations surrounding their products, claiming many pre-orders and ‘hype’ for their typically very polished approach. However, expectations were lowered when the 5C did not grab the “aggressively priced” and “plastic” market share from Android as predicted. Could the same be happening here?
  • Is there still a demand for it? A part of me still thinks that if there was a real demand for phones like this, then other companies such as HTC, Samsung and LG would have stepped forward to claim the market. It may be the case that a market like this isn't worth the investment for most.

In summary, there is no way to tell if the SE will be a success. With iPhone no longer dominating the mobile market (looking at a decrease in sales for the first time in Q1 2016) many could argue that the golden age of the iPhone has passed. But others argue that the SE is the best thing to happen to the iPhone, and will bring in a whole new group of mobile consumers.

The iPhone SE will be released on 31st March with pre-orders starting on 24th March. It will cost £359 for 16GB or £439 for 64GB.

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