In what was its shortest keynote address in years, Apple on Monday unveiled a smaller, cheaper iPhone aimed at new buyers in India and China, the world’s biggest buyer of smartphones.
The 4-inch iPhone SE is the technology company’s attempt to reverse a decline in worldwide sales of its most important product.
Apple also unveiled a 9.7 inch iPad Pro, a miniaturized version of its 12.9-inch productivity tablet with all the same bells and whistles.
Here are five takeaways from the Apple event in Cupertino, San Francisco:
1. An Apple is never cheap: The iPhone SE is not a budget phone, in fact, it’s not even a mid-tier device. The SE is priced at a steep Rs 39,000 the same as a flagship Android device. This is not surprising if one looks at the device’s specs. The iPhone SE has almost the exact same features and internals as the company’s flagship iPhone 6S. The iPhone SE is being targeted at people who prefer the portability and convenience of a 4-inch screen and definitely not at those who are looking for a cheap or even mid-tier device.
2. India isn’t there yet: Apple was expected to make India a core part of its iPhone SE strategy as the San Francisco-based company had shown signs of focusing strongly on the world’s fastest growing smartphone market. But its Indian fans will be disappointed to know that India is not among the 12 countries that will see the initial rollout of the 4-inch device. The phone will arrive in India almost two months late, near the end of May when it comes out in 100 other countries. Apple is looking to set up single brand retail outlet (ie Apple Stores) in the country and will probably wait for that to happen before adding India to the list of countries which see the first rollout of devices.
3. The iPhone 5S is gone: The three-year-old iPhone 5S had recently seen a price drop in India with e-commerce sites selling the device for around Rs 21,500. Some rumours had suggested that the 5S’ price could drop below Rs 20,000 once Apple launched the SE. But Apple has decided to discontinue the iPhone 5S, making the $399 SE the cheapest smartphone in its stable. So, anyone hoping to buy a 5S should probably do so now as the device might vanish from store shelves in India once the SE arrives.
4. The iPad Pro still wants to be a laptop killer: The original 12.9 iPad Pro was released five months ago to a lukewarm reception. Apple had pitched it as a ‘Productivity Tablet’ aimed at professionals and which was supposed to replace both the laptop and traditional 10-inch tablet. But early reviews of the device suggest that the iOS device sat in an uncomfortable spot of being not powerful or functional enough to replace laptops and not portable enough to replace a standard tablet. The iPad Pro 9.7 inch is Apple’s second attempt and the device has an identical feature set and spec sheet as its 12.9 cousin ie support for a Keyboard cover and the Apple Pencil. While it may not make a dent on laptop sales yet, the smaller form factor may make it appealing to those who are looking for a powerful yet portable computing device.
5. Apple will stand its ground against the FBI: Apple CEO Tim Cook reaffirmed his company’s hard line against the US government, which wants a federal judge to order Apple to bypass the security features on an iPhone used by terrorist Syed Farook. Cook didn’t specifically mention the ongoing dispute. But he said that citizens and their elected representatives, rather than the courts, should resolve questions about the limits of digital security. “We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should hold over our information and over our privacy,” Cook said at the event.
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