With the 4-inch iPhone Special Edition (SE), Apple is trying to entice the owners of Apple phones like the 4s, 5, 5s and even the 5c to opt for an upgrade. But the pricing has gone horribly wrong, says Himanshu Juneja
The latest media conference at Apple's Cupertino base confirmed what had become an open secret. Apple unveiled the iPhone SE, a handset with a 4-inch screen, and with high end hardware in tow. The news created a flutter, as this would be the first small phone since the release of iPhone 6 in 2014.
Despite the rumour mills working full throttle, it was something which needed to be confirmed. Many were still unsure about the move, but the signs had been there since quite some time now. Apple reported its slowest sales growth since 2007, the iPhone 5c being a flop, and sales figures, particularly in China and India were not as per expectations.
China witnessed Xiaomi closing in on Apple. The second biggest market for Apple was showing signs of concerns. India, the fastest growing market for mobile phones and traditionally a price sensitive region, was being flooded by refurbished iPhones to notch up the numbers. These were not encouraging signs to say the least, and something had to be done, and quickly.
Apple came with a solution which one can say was lying in plain sight. Something which Sony had been doing since quite some time without making too big a deal out of it. Apple decided to emulate and grab a bite of the 'smaller' sized mobile phones. Thus was born the iPhone SE, where the SE stood for 'Special Edition'.
The handset is basically a union of iPhone 6s hardware with similar exteriors as that of iPhone 5s. The iPhone SE is devoid of the 3D Touch technology, but barring that, users can look forward to plethora of goodies in a compact form factor.
The 4-inch handset carries the 640 x 1136p resolution retina display, is powered by the Apple A9 chipset and the M9 coprocessor, 2 GB of RAM onboard, 12 MP primary camera (supports 4K video capture) and 1.2 front facing camera.
The home button carries the Touch ID fingerprint scanning ability along with Apple Pay feature. As a huge boost to its credentials, the iPhoen SE will run on iOS 9.3 right out of the box, placing it in the same league as that of iPhone 6 and 6s.
On the connectivity front, the phone is again not a pushover. It supports connectivity options like LTE, Bluetooth (ver 4.2), enhanced Wi-Fi, and NFC. The onboard storage memory options will be 16 GB and 64 GB, and the handset will be available in Gold, Silver, Space Gray and the Rose Gold options.
As an add on, Apple has also released accessories like leather cases and lightening docks. These will set the users back by Rs 2,900 and Rs 3,700 respectively.
With the iPhone SE, Apple will be aiming to provide a cheaper solution without skimping on the build quality, and neither on the hardware under the hood. The biggest advantage perhaps lies with the supply of timely updates. The need to tinker with separate updates will get eliminated as the iPhone SE will be of the same generation as that of the flagship models from Apple camp. Apple will also try to entice the owners of Apple phones like the 4s, 5, 5s and even the 5c to opt for an upgrade.
And why not!
But the biggest spanner in Apple's plans will be a known irritant: the pricing.
While the USA gets the iPhone SE at $399 and $439 for the 16 GB and the 32 GB model respectively, the Indian avatar will be carrying a price tag of Rs 39,000 for the basic model. This is where Apple seems to have gone horribly wrong, as it basically beats the very purpose of a cheaper model.
Another area of concern for Apple is the fact that 70 per cent of the handsets sold in India are around the Rs 10,000 mark. This just may get tricky for Apple here.
Sure there will be a user base for the iPhone SE, but if Apple really is serious about grabbing a lion's share through the iPhone SE in India at the least, they will have to rethink the pricing.
A price tag ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 will bring it more in line with the international release, boosting its chances manifolds. Till then, one can expect only a fraction of success with the iPhone SE than what it is really capable of.
The pre-orders start off on March 24, while the phone phone itself launches on March 31 in 100 countries, including India.