Is the new device enough to change the manufacturer’s market position against Android competitors?
Apple has introduced the iPhone SE, a four inch display device aimed at the mid tier of end users. iPhone SE offers strong performance with the same 64-bit A9 chip offered in iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, longer battery life, faster wireless, a 12 megapixel iSight camera featuring Live Photos and 4K video, plus Touch ID with Apple Pay. Apple has also introduced a new 9.7 inch iPad Pro, weighing in at just under one pound.
However, despite the new sized device, in a research note IHS commented that, “iPhone SE targets an underserved segment, but will not change the iPhone’s fortunes”.
IHS noted that: “iPhone SE will not change the market trajectory for the iPhone. Like all smartphone makers, Apple must find ways to trigger all current smartphone owners to upgrade from their ‘good enough’ existing smartphones. The iPhone SE will help to do this for a part of the installed base, but Apple needs bigger bolder ideas to drive a significant uplift in iPhone shipments and accelerate the upgrade cycle”.
The 64-bit A9 chip, introduced in iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, offers iPhone SE customers two times faster CPU and three times faster GPU performance compared to iPhone 5s, all with gains in energy efficiency for improved battery life. M9, Apple’s next generation motion coprocessor, is integrated into A9 allowing more features to run all the time at lower power, including ‘Hey Siri’ without the user having to pick up their phone, and a range of fitness tracking capabilities including step measurement and distance.
iPhone SE users can browse, download and stream content even faster with Wi-Fi up to three times and LTE up to 50% faster than iPhone 5s. Also, iPhone SE also includes more LTE bands for better worldwide roaming and supports Voice over LTE and Wi-Fi calling for high quality wideband calls.
In its research note, IHS insisted that, “iPhone SE is not about offering a cheaper iPhone”. It said that, “instead, Apple benefits from placing its latest technologies in more consumers hands, including those who prefer a small smartphone”. It added that, “Apple has a significant opportunity with the new smaller screen iPhone SE because the majority of iPhone models in active use are models with small screens. Of iPhone models in active use, 29% are iPhone 5 models with four inch screens, and 23% are even older iPhone models with screens sized just three and half inches”.
However, as Apple has saved costs, “by including only category 4 LTE support, rather than the faster category 6 in the iPhone 6S, or the category 9 in some of the latest competitor flagship models,” said IHS, as a result the research firm predicts that, “iPhone shipments [will]decline in 2016 by 7% year on year”.
IHS stated that iPhone SE may be the device that allows Apple to compete better against the likes of Samsung and LG: “With the iPhone SE, Apple is choosing to aim at an underserved segment of consumers that prefer small screen smartphones and have been reluctant to upgrade. Importantly, Apple’s competitors have chosen not to target the premium compact smartphone market. The iPhone SE increases the differentiation of the iPhone portfolio from Samsung, LG and other Android smartphone makers because it offers high end smartphone experience and camera in a compact design. By contrast, all of the leading Android smartphone makers choose to pair their compact smartphone designs with slower processors, slower LTE network support and lower performing cameras.”
IHS added that the only Android smartphone maker that has persisted with o persist with premium compact designs is Sony, yet the manufacturer has just moved away from this approach with its announcement of the X series model; all three upcoming models offer a large five inch screen.
iOS 9 is the foundation of iPhone SE and brings powerful built-in apps like Messages, FaceTime, Photos, Music and Maps to iPhone users. iOS 9 also brings more intelligence to iPhone SE with proactive assistance, powerful search, improved Siri features, and a new Night Shift feature that uses the iPhone SE’s clock and geolocation to automatically adjust the colours in the display to the warmer end of the spectrum after dark.
All of these innovations are packed into a light and compact phone, crafted from bead-blasted aluminum for a satin-like finish, refined matte-chamfered edges, a new colour-matched stainless steel inset Apple logo and a brilliant four-inch Retina display.
Concluding, IHS stated: “Apple’s challenge in 2016 is how to continue iPhone momentum when the year on year comparisons will be made with Apple’s exceptional 2015 iPhone performance. A year ago, Apple secured an enormous uplift in iPhone models because the shift to the larger screen format iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus expanded the appeal of the iPhone to consumers who had previously only been able to buy a large screen smartphone from an Android smartphone maker.”
Meanwhile, the iPad Pro features a new pro Retina display with greater brightness, wider colour gamut, lower reflectivity, Night Shift mode and introduces new True Tone display technology to dynamically adjust white balance.
The new iPad Pro delivers good performance with the 64-bit A9X chip, along with a four speaker audio system, new 12 megapixel iSight camera for shooting Live Photos and 4K video, five megapixel FaceTime HD camera, and faster wireless technologies. Plus iPad Pro includes support for the Apple Pencil and a new Smart Keyboard cover designed to fit.
Designers, illustrators and businesses have quickly adopted iPad Pro and it’s changing the way they work. Said John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: “People don’t realise how much hand drawing is needed to produce computer animation. iPad Pro and Apple Pencil are the closest we’ve ever been able to get in the digital world to actually drawing on paper.”
iPhone SE has an advanced 12 megapixel iSight camera featuring Focus Pixel technology for fast focusing, an Apple-designed image signal processor, advanced noise reduction, third generation local tone mapping and better face detection, all resulting in sharper, more detailed photos like the ones shot on iPhone 6s.
Additional camera advancements include: the ability to shoot HD video with support for 4K at a resolution of 3840 x 2160. After capturing 4K video, customers can edit on a Mac, PC or iPad, and with the latest version of iMovie on iPhone, can even edit two simultaneous streams of 4K on iPhone SE; Retina Flash, which momentarily makes the display three times brighter with True Tone lighting technology, for wonderfully bright selfies in low light with the FaceTime HD camera; features introduced with iPhone 6s, including up to 63 megapixel panorama photos, video capture up to 60fps for 1080p video and 240fps for slo-mo, time-lapse with video stabilisation and cinematic video stabilisation.
iPhone SE will be available in space gray, silver, gold and rose gold metallic finishes in 16GB and 64GB models starting at $399. Customers in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the UK, US Virgin Islands and the US will be able to order iPhone SE beginning Thursday 24 March, with availability beginning Thursday 31 March.
iPhone SE will be available in early April in Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Guernsey, Jersey, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Maldives, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and UAE.