Everything About Apple iPhone 5se
Apple is getting ready to deliver a throwback.
That will likely be the headline following the March 21 product event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. The widely anticipated 4-inch iPhone (possibly called the iPhone SE, though iPhone 6C and iPhone 5SE are in contention) will probably not move the bar on innovation. Instead, it will ensure that the company ably fills the “small and affordable” smartphone check box.
Why? Because it’s an important market and, it seems, some people still really love their iPhones small.
If you’re wondering who wants a 4-inch iPhone when there are some excellent (albeit larger) choices like the 6S and 6S Plus, just look around at all those still clutching an iPhone 5, 5s or 5C. You may even spot a few iPhone 4 and 4S owners, too. They’ve been itching to upgrade but have little interest in a phone that might feel too large for their hands or pockets. The “iPhone SE” is designed for them.
Apple is set to hold one of its big events on 21 March, showing off new products. But nobody is clear what exactly those products will be.
None of Apple’s big products – primarily the iPhone – are due for their yearly update. Instead, the company is thought to be releasing a range of smaller upgrades, with one big exception.
The biggest release will likely be the iPhone SE. That will be a smaller iPhone that will look like the iPhone 5 but bring features from newer phones, and is thought to be launched at those that want a smaller or cheaper handset.
That won’t however be the only product launched next week. Here’s our rundown of everything that’s expected to come out.
A lot is already known about the phone that is expected to launch:it will look like an iPhone 5 but with rounded edges, and feature internal components that are somewhere between the iPhone 6 and 6s.
Perhaps the one big remaining question is what Apple will call the new phone, and the related puzzle of how it will sell it. The company was originally thought to be calling the iPhone 5SE, but it seems to have dropped that number – it isn’t clear how Apple will disassociate it from the iPhone 5 that it is expected to look like, or how it will look to encourage people with that phone to upgrade.
New tablet directions
Apple’s iPad business has flatlined and some are questioning the relevance of the category, but don’t expect Apple to step back from it. Next week, it should unveil a new iPad flagship.
Gillett told me that it’s fair to question the iPad’s relevance, but he thinks the jury is still out on the tablet. “One thing… that people don’t acknowledge is the fact that we never got a good feel for what the iPad refresh cycle is. People hold on them a lot longer than their phones,” he said.
there could be a wave of iPad upgrade customers in the next couple of years
there could be a wave of iPad upgrade customers in the next couple of years. That could completely change the category outlook.
“I think of this market still in flux, but in slow flux,” said Gillett.
In the meantime, next week’s iPad Air 3 (the current name guess) launch will signal a rejiggering of the category. Features like magnetic Smart Connector on the side of the tablet and the Apple Pencil will migrate down to the 9.7-inch tablet, giving it powers similar to the massive iPad Pro. It’s not clear if the iPad mini will survive. Is it too close in size to the iPhone 6S Plus?
No one expects a new Apple Watch, but Apple will almost certainly further expand its band offerings, probably through some new designer partnerships.
Apple observer and Creative Strategies President Tim Bajarin still has a small wish list, “I would hope they announce updated version of watchOS and perhaps give us an update on Watch sales,” he wrote to me in an email.
If Apple does open up about how its first wearable is performing in the marketplace, it couldn’t choose a better time — almost a year since the original launch.
In the year since Apple surprised us with the ultra-light, single-port MacBook, Intel launched its sixth-generation Core processors (AKA Skylake), which includes a new line of low-powered Core M chips.
Most expect Apple to announce, at the very least, a MacBook update. “I’m hopeful to see Skylake-based MacBooks, especially the new MacBook. Skylake could double its performance at that low power (a 4.5-watt, system on a chip [SoC]),” Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy told me in an email.
Forrester’s Gillett thinks Apple might even announce updates to its Thunderbolt display, especially because Intel’s Skylake now supports Thunderbolt 3. He also thinks there’s a possibility we’ll see MacBook Pro 13- and 15-inch updates. They might even include USB-C ports, though Apple is unlikely to get rid of any legacy ports on those machines.
There’s even a slim possibility Apple will tease an update to the powerful Mac Pro desktop.
Elephants in the room
Two big questions remain. One is the obvious. Will there be any surprises? Perhaps a brand new product or a new category?
Bajarin told me he doesn’t expect any new products right now. “Anything new will come in the fall,” he added.
Gillett agrees, telling me, “Apple tends to not spring new hardware out of the blue on anybody.”
They’re probably right. For as tight a ship as Apple runs, that ship has a habit of springing more than a few leaks, especially when it comes to new product categories. So as much as I would like to see Apple finally enter the intelligent home assistant hardware space, it seems unlikely we’ll see Siri get its own kitchen hardware box (à la the Amazon Echo) next week.
The other big, burning question is whether or not Apple CEO Tim Cook will address the ongoing battle with the FBI and the Department of Justice over the government’s demand that Apple write special software to hack a locked iPhone 5C that was used by a terrorist.
Moorhead thinks Cook has to address the controversy. “He has a captive audience and should take advantage of the opportunity,” he said.
Personally, I expect at most a reference, maybe even a visual moment, but no direct discussion of the case.
Gillett agrees. “These events are very carefully designed to bring focus on the products to address customer and enthusiast.” He does, though, expect it to be a major point of discussion at the upcoming Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, likely taking place in June.
Even if Cook says nothing, the unveiling will take place fewer than 24 hours before the first hearing in that case. It may be hard to ignore that elephant, though Apple is sure to try.