Business / Corporate

Apple launches budget-model iPhone to prime sales ahead of first 5G model

Bloomberg, Kyodo

Apple Inc. unveiled the new iPhone SE, its first low-cost smartphone in four years, seeking to boost sales while consumers wait for the launch of new high-end models with 5G later this year.

The new iPhone SE with a 4.7-inch screen will hit the market on April 24 in countries such as Japan and the United States. Pre-order will be available beginning Friday with a price tag starting at ¥44,800 ($399).

That is several hundred dollars cheaper than the flagship iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro lines. To get to the lower cost, Apple is using an iPhone 8 design that debuted in 2017 along with a less advanced camera system, a smaller and older display and a Touch ID fingerprint scanner instead of 3-D facial recognition.

The new model comes in black, white or red with storage options ranging from 64GB to 256GB, Cupertino, California-based Apple said on Wednesday. While many of the device’s specifications have been surpassed by newer technology at this point, the iPhone SE does use the same A13 processor as the latest flagship iPhone. This also gives Apple a more competitive model in countries such as India that are flooded with cheaper Android phones.

Apple is recycling the iPhone SE name, which was introduced in 2016 with a well-received compact device based on the design of the iPhone 5S from 2013. The 2020 iPhone SE is again smaller than its flagships, with a 4.7-inch screen, compared with 6.1-inches for the iPhone 11. The screen also uses older liquid crystal display technology instead of the more advanced organic light-emitting diode screens.

The launch of the new iPhone SE shows that Apple’s supply chain in China has returned to a place of some normalcy amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. In March, Apple started selling two new Mac personal computers and an updated iPad Pro.

However, the company is introducing a new phone into a weak global economy. It also marks the first time that Apple has released an iPhone while most of its retail stores are closed and many of its employees are developing devices from home.

The mid-tier iPhone SE with 128GB of storage costs $449, while the model with the most storage is $549, $50 less than the more-advanced iPhone XR. The phones can be pre-ordered starting Friday and will arrive beginning April 24, Apple said.

The new, more budget-friendly iPhone should appeal to people looking for a more pocket-sized iOS device or fingerprint authentication in a time when masks are making Face ID inconvenient.

With dual SIM card functionality, the new model enables customers to use two phone lines on a single device, keeping business and private use separate.

The new model is also dust- and water-resistant so as to withstand the elements, Apple added.

Your news needs your support

Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.

Coronavirus banner