Why the iPhone SE makes perfect sense (almost)

By: Marawan Alwaraki, March 28, 2016

Apple announced the iPhone SE on the 21st of March. Most people's initial reaction was: what the hell? It was weird and confusing seeing Apple release a phone that looks identical to the iPhone 5, a phone that's almost 4 years old. In a time where people are critical of Apple's innovation, this seems like the best thing to do to make everything worse.

After giving it some thought, I realised that perhaps the iPhone SE is one of the best things to do to make everything better. Here's why:

During the announcement of the new iPhone, Apple made it very clear who this phone is targeted at: people who want smaller phones, and people looking to buy their first iPhone. They never said that it's an upgrade to someone with an iPhone 6 or 6S, mainly because it's not. Also because they want  iPhone 6 and 6S customers to buy the more expensive iPhone 7 (when it is released in September).

Let's take a look at the iPhone SE from the perspective of the three groups mentioned above.


People looking for a 4" phone


The last Samsung Galaxy Mini was the S5 mini released in July 2014. Sony released the Z5 Compact last October for $500 with a 4.6" screen. So when you consider the competition in the 4" market you can conclude that Samsung's offering is too old for its purchase to be considered, although an S7 mini is rumoured, meanwhile Sony's offering is more expensive than the iPhone SE and has almost the same screen size as the iPhone 6S.

It's clear that there wasn't much effort being made in the 4" market. It may make you think that very few people want a smaller iPhone. However that's not the case. Phone Arena ran a poll asking people if they would be interested in a 4 inch iPhone, 40% said yes. The Verge also ran a similar poll, 27% of the voters said they'd go back to a 4 inch phone meanwhile 18% said they're already using a smaller phone!

So you've got quite a large percentage of people asking for a 4 inch phone, and hardly any good 4 inch phones in the market. Users determined to stick with Apple's iOS were forced to use the iPhone 5S which is almost 3 years old now, meanwhile users running Android didn't have many options to go for.

The solution? A 4 inch iPhone that's as powerful as the newest iPhone for an affordable price. This should be a great upgrade to anyone with an iPhone 5 or 5S, or even users currently on Android that may be attracted to an affordable 4 inch iPhone.


People looking to buy their first iPhone


The iPhone SE is relatively cheap. You're getting nearly everything the iPhone 6S is offering excluding 3D Touch, the updated Touch ID (it has the same Touch ID found in the iPhone 6) and an older front camera. So in terms of features and specs you can place it between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. However in terms of price the iPhone SE is $150 and $250 less than the iPhone 6 and 6S respectively.

The iPhone SE doesn't just provide a great price to features ratio, it also looks really good. Although it keeps the same design as the iPhone 5 and 5S, it is still one of the most beautiful designs to date. Apple hopes that by selling a cheaper iPhone it can lure Android users into the Apple ecosystem. Perhaps today's iPhone SE customers will be the ones pre ordering the iPhone 7S in a year and a half. It's a smart way to steal customers off Android.


People with an iPhone 6 or 6S


If you've paid $650+ for an iPhone 6 or 6S then chances are Apple doesn't want you to buy the iPhone SE. Therefore the new iPhone had to be good enough to attract the above two groups, but not great enough to shit customers from paying $650+ every year or two to paying just $399.

There are a few reasons why people in this group wouldn't want the iPhone SE. Firstly, its specs and features lie between the iPhone 6 and 6S. For iPhone 6 owners this is not enticing enough to upgrade, keep in mind the iPhone 6S itself wasn't even enticing enough for many users. For iPhone 6S owners the phone is a slight downgrade. So in terms of specs and features, it's unlikely an iPhone 6 or 6S owner would want to switch to Apple's smaller iPhone.

Another reason not to switch is the downgrade in design. Owners of the iPhone 6 and 6S probably owned either a 5 or 5S a couple years ago so it is unlikely they would want to go back to the older design.

Apple wants iPhone 6 and 6S owners to become iPhone 7 and 7S owners, not iPhone SE owners. Therefore the phone kept an old design and wasn't ahead of the 6S in terms of features.


Conclusion


Most iPhone owners buying this phone will be coming from either an iPhone 5 or a 5S. It may kind of suck to buy a new phone that looks identical to your current one, but it's a compromise Apple had to make. Reason being, Apple doesn't want to tempt iPhone 6(S) owners to switch to a cheaper model, and also probably because it's easier and more cost effective to use a tested and working design rather than develop a brand new one. It may be the case that some iPhone 5 and 5S owners would be happy to stick to a familiar design, but I personally wouldn't be so I find that unlikely.

Apple mixed a good looking 5S with a powerful 6S and made an excellent 4 inch phone. If you aren't tempted by the iPhone SE, then chances are Apple doesn't want you to buy it.

What are your thoughts on the iPhone SE?

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