Apple Brings back Revamped 4-inch iPhone 5S as SE at Rs 39,000; New Wine in an Old Bottle?
Apple launched its flagship iPhone 5S in September 2013 and that was its last smartphone with screen size of 4 inches. Some were against the move to shift to a larger screen device, while some felt inferior to Android handsets with large displays.
At the 4-inch iPhone launch, it was also the time when people thought Apple was digressing too far from Steve Jobs’ ideology to keep a screen size small enough to be accessed by the thumb at all corners.
Apple gave in to the pressure and launched the iPhone 6 and 6P Plus with screen sizes at 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch. A lot many welcomed the move, but there was a strong community of Apple fans that felt the 4-inch iPhone was the best iPhone in terms of usability and productivity.
iPhone SE launch and product details
Yesterday at an Apple event in its headquarters at Cupertino, California, Apple unveiled a new 4-inch handset, iPhone SE. Rumours had been going around for quite some time now and this had kept a lot of Apple fans busy in guessing the specs.
Just like any other product launch, iPhone SE did not disappoint. Flaunting a 4-inch retina display, the phone comes with exactly the same features as the iPhone 6S in the body of an iPhone 5S. It even comes in a rose gold colour like its sibling!
The phone has been launched in 16GB and 64GB variants, starting at Rs 39,000 in India. SE will sport Apple’s latest A9 processor coupled with M9 motion processor. The camera sensor is same as that in 6S, 12MP iSight camera at the back which shoots 4K HD video.
Thankfully Apple has put its popular TouchID with Apple Pay feature in the budget iPhone. Apple 3D Touch is missing from the iPhone but it is just a gimmick which users will not miss.
Why did Apple launch a 4-inch device after 3 years?
Greg Joswiak, VP – Product Marketing at Apple, said, “Some people simply love smaller phones. And the 4 inch phone is often their first iPhone. Some people asked and pleaded with us. So we’re calling it the iPhone SE. Our most powerful 4-inch phone ever.”
Is Apple too late in listening to its customers? Yes. It is essentially an upgraded iPhone 5S, because only the internals have changed. The externals remain pretty much the same. So it is a hybrid between the iPhone 5S and the 6S.
Just think about it, did Apple really launch a smaller iPhone for customers who demanded a 4-inch iPhone? If you look at Apple’s sales in developing countries, you will notice that most of the iPhones are being bought by the elite group in the society. iPhones are still a luxury item in India, with prices starting at a whopping Rs 62,000.
The iPhone SE slips in comfortably under other Android flagships like the Nexus 6P, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Sony Xperia Z5. Now that the features are comparable, the only thing that differs is the screen size. This could be Apple’s strategy to capture ‘affordable luxury’ smartphone segment in developing nations.
Another reason by Apple came back after 3 years to launch a smaller iPhone could also be the fact that iPhone sales have been dwindling globally. For the first time in history, such a trend has been seen and this could worry Apple.
In fact, iPhone sales are expected to decline further this quarter, even with the addition of new products in its line-up. Simple theory proves that Android is gaining popularity and small startups are sprouting up to take advantage of the open-source Android OS. Chinese and Indian manufacturers are gaining popularity globally with inexpensive and efficient smartphones that do more than what an iPhone can.
Lastly, the rebranded 5S and 6S combo iPhone could also allow Apple to enter developing markets where the 6S and 6S Plus could not make an impact. This looks like a strong strategy to launch a medium-range smartphone in economies where Apple is seen as a luxury brand.
Apple is launching the SE in India in April and the launch price is not attractive for a medium-range smartphone. A $399 smartphone(approximately Rs 27,000) in US comes to India at 1.5 times the price, is this really justice?
It costs about the same as a Google Nexus 6P or its sibling, iPhone 6. Although the internals have beefed-up, the overall value proposition remains weak. Let’s see how the populace of India respond to the price tag and the smartphone itself.