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Apple launches iPhone SE to mixed reactions

Some say just a repacked 5s, others say a more studied entrance to the midtier market

Apple, turning the trend of increasingly large phones, on Monday released its latest iPhone iteration in the iPhone SE, which Wired wrote is essentially an iPhone 6s in a 5s case.

The new smartphone features a four-inch display, 12-megapixel camera that can shoot 4K video and an A9 processor, the same chip that’s in the iPhone 6s. The 16 gigabyte version of the phone will sell for $399 with orders beginning on March 24.

Jefferson Wang, senior partner for mobile innovation at IBB Consulting, said Apple’s play helps them access the “good enough” smartphone market. “In other words,” Wang wrote, “a midtier price with great specs and performance, but clear tradeoffs versus top-tier flagship devices of the moment.”

“The smartphone market is both crowded and mature in developed countries,” Wang continued. Even with a “good enough” play, Apple expectedly continues to command a premium with the iPhone SE given the $399 price. For perspective, consumers can currently buy larger-screen devices like the Motorola X Pure for $300 or Google’s Nexus 5X for $349.

“IPhone SE represents Apple’s second attempt at a lower-cost smartphone market hit,” Wang noted. “In 2013, Apple learned with the iPhone 5c that in a mature market it’s not enough for a product to carry the Apple name – it also has to be right. Part of why iPhone 5c may not have met sales expectations is because it didn’t have the same high-quality appeal that consumers expected from Apple devices. It also didn’t help that it was priced about 18% below the premium iPhone’s it launched alongside.”

Collecting her thoughts for a column in Gizmodo, Kate Knibbs blasted Apple for not launching a new device.

“Apple announced a ‘new’ four-inch iPhone SE today, and it killed the iPhone 5s. This was a shrewd marketing strategy and a dirty trick. The iPhone SE is not a new phone. It is the iPhone 5s. There is nothing new or distinctive in the size, shape, look, hardware or software of the iPhone SE.”


Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Sean focuses on multiple subject areas including 5G, Open RAN, hybrid cloud, edge computing, and Industry 4.0. He also hosts Arden Media's podcast Will 5G Change the World? Prior to his work at RCR, Sean studied journalism and literature at the University of Mississippi then spent six years based in Key West, Florida, working as a reporter for the Miami Herald Media Company. He currently lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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