Apple Inc on Monday unveiled a smaller, cheaper iPhone aimed at new buyers, especially in emerging markets and possibly China, the world’s biggest buyer of smartphones, as the technology company looks to reverse a decline in worldwide sales of its most important product.
The new device, called the iPhone SE, has a 4-inch (10-cm) screen and starts at a price of $399. It represents Apple’s second bid for the crowded midtier market after an unsuccessful foray three years ago. That is well below the starting price tag of $649 for the current top iPhone model without a contract, which is beyond the reach of many.
That was broadly seen as an attempt to match rival Samsung Electronics with its large-screen Galaxy phones. Before the launch at Apple’s leafy Cupertino, California headquarters, Chief Executive Tim Cook defended the company’s refusal to comply with a US court order to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the shooters in a December attack in San Bernardino, California.
Apple has a responsibility to protect customers’ data and privacy, Cook said, adding that Apple “will not shrink from that responsibility.” His statement was greeted by applause from the audience. The tech company’s dispute with the US government has become a lightning rod for a broader debate on data privacy in the US.
The company is set to square off against the US government at a court hearing on Tuesday, likely the first round in a long legal fight to avoid being forced to decrypt the iPhone. The company also revealed that it fully runs on renewable energy in 23 countries. According to the Guardian live coverage, Apple has built a machine called Liam that can deconstruct iPhone into components to recover high quality materials and reintroduce them into the supply chain.
“For example, the silver from the motherboard can be used in solar panels. Eventually, Apple wants to recycle the parts into new iPhones,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, at the event. “Take your old product into an Apple store or visit its website and post it to the company,” she added.
The company was set to unveil a new range of products including a smaller and cheaper 4-inch iPhone SE as reported by the media at the event. The announcement is aimed at making further inroads into the emerging markets like India that has a huge smartphone base of 160 million plus users and is likely to surpass the US smartphone user base in a couple of years and China.
The iPhone SE is reported to be a replacement for the iPhone 5s series. Leaked photos suggest that the device will be similar to iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. “Apple routinely schedules product events in March and September, so the juxtaposition of a product premiere on Monday to a high-profile court date is coincidental,” a USA Today report said.