Paraphrasing the fictional president Jed Bartlet (The West Wing of the White House), the journalists who cover Apple are the Charlie Brown of hardware cheap. Time and time again, Apple threatens to launch a smartphone really cheap and time and time again backs out at the last minute. Oh Lord!
In recent weeks, some insiders in the rumor world were convinced that the third generation of the iPhone SE, which was announced this Tuesday at the spring event peek performancewould be the smartphone truly budget-focused that the iPhone 5c and the previous two versions of the iPhone SE had promised.
Before its arrival, I thought that the SE 3 could be a great success if Apple kept the price below €500. A rumor from the end of the month claimed that the company could even sell it for less than €400 and keep the SE 2 for less than €300. Without a doubt, some terrifying figures if you are an entry-level Android manufacturer.
But here we are, with a new iPhone SE that actually costs a little more than its predecessor at launch, with a price starting at €529 thanks to the addition of 5G.
Not that the SE is expensive. In fact, compared to the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the SE looks really affordable. But given its antiquated design, it should and could have been considerably cheaper, opening up new markets and new opportunities.
Has the iPhone SE stopped being good value for money?
Apple has always made it clear what it wants to achieve with the SE. It’s the way to get the latest Apple mobile chip at the lowest possible price. You just have to sacrifice other aspects.
Apple has been up to the task with the latest SE, offering a mid-range phone with the staggeringly powerful A15 Bionic that we already saw in the much more expensive iPhone 13 series.
But the A15 is a bit of a misnomer, forced to live in a chassis that debuted with the iPhone 8 in 2017 and was very much a copy of 2014’s iPhone 6. As my colleague Dom Preston says, the design of the It was “embarrassing two years ago”, and it’s “just outrageous” to include it now.
It’s a cool design, but even Jon Hamm would be overdoing it after eight years.
And this is not just an aesthetic issue. The “new” SE has a small screen by today’s standards (4.7 inches), and it offers the same (relatively weak) brightness and sharpness as the previous generation.
The camera may offer new functions thanks to the influence of the A15, but the hardware actual has not changed. (And there’s no night mode, too.) And he still has a Home button, which will be good news for some, but undoubtedly old-fashioned.
It’s really surprising that Apple has managed to extend the use of the SE design as much as it has because we could describe it in one sentence: it’s the second generation iPhone SE, plus the A15 Bionic and 5G.
These are welcome additions, but most people who buy the SE would probably prefer to do without those luxuries for a price of $399 or $299.
The economic road not traveled
We’ve been saying it for a long time, but when did Apple decide that it would only sell to the rich? The company used to want to bring the latest technology to as many users as possible, and now it’s launching $2,329 Macs that don’t even come with a display or keyboard.
Focus premium of Apple has its logic, since the perception of exclusivity, of a rarefied lifestyle, is part of the appeal, and users premium they are lucrative targets for the subsequent sale of applications and subscription services.
But it didn’t have to be that way. Apple could have been (and still could be, if Tim Cook wishes) the company that truly democratized technology. Or, at least, the company that sold to the rich and the poor at the same time.
And it also makes business sense. There are millions of potential customers out there who turn away from the Apple brand because of the company’s high prices. Why has Apple ceded this market to Android? Don’t you like money?
It’s all very disappointing. But there are reasons for hope. They say that the next version of the iPhone SE will be the first smartphone of the company really focused on the economic market, with a price within the reach of the average consumer.
Original article published in Macworld US.