Apple is ready to break from its typical annual iPhone update schedule later this month when it is expected to show off a less pricey smartphone, which most are calling the iPhone SE. The revamped low-cost handset will arrive along with a new iPad, refreshed Apple Watch bands, and potentially new software releases for Apple's smartphones, tablets, wearables, and TV products.
Thanks to a steady string of leaks, we already have a pretty good idea of what the new iPhone will offer. To start, the name has apparently been shifted to "iPhone SE." The device has previously been referred to as the iPhone 5E and iPhone 6C, but iPhone SE is the name that's sticking.
The two chief selling points of the iPhone SE will be the size and the price.
Where the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, respectively, the iPhone SE will feature a 4-inch screen similar to that of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. Reports suggest the phone's profile will be somewhat smoother than the 5/5s iPhones and may feature curved glass. As for the price, the 6s and 6s Plus carry starting prices of $649 and $749, respectively. The iPhone SE is believed to carry a price tag closer to $499.
Other rumored features of the iPhone SE include the same A9 processor found in the more expensive models, Touch ID for biometric security, an 8-megapixel camera with Live Photos, and a metal casing.
Here are five other features we hope the iPhone SE includes:
This should be a no-brainer for Apple. With Touch ID already a suspected component of the phone, the handset would only need to include NFC with the Secure Element to support Apple's mobile payment service. Apple would be crazy to leave this feature out. (It wouldn't hurt Apple to expand the number of retailers who support Apple Pay, either.) The company recently launched Apple Pay in China, where a low-cost iPhone could sell big.
No aspect of mobile devices frustrates users more than weak battery life. Apple is notorious for preferring sleek phones that barely eke out a day of battery to thicker, more practical iPhones that power through days at a time. Given the expected smaller dimensions of the iPhone SE, Apple only has so much room to combat the laws of physics. Still, anything Apple can do to maximize battery life would help. If not longer battery life, perhaps rapid battery charging?
Apple continues to charge a premium for internal phone storage and that needs to end now. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are sold with just 16GB of storage, forcing customers to pay $100 to $200 more to jump to 64GB or 128GB, respectively. Apple should (finally) take a cue from competitors and offer a minimum of 32GB of storage for the iPhone SE.
Most reports about the iPhone SE suggest it will not have 3D Touch, but we'd like to see it anyway. It's important for Apple to develop a consistent user experience across its devices. Right now, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus support 3D Touch, but older phones do not. It doesn't make much sense for Apple to release a new iPhone without the feature, though the extra screen technology needed for the functionality would add to the cost -- making it less likely.
The expected $499 price point is appreciably lower than the iPhone 6s's $649 price point, but it's still too high for many would-be buyers. At $499, the iPhone SE may sell well in Western countries, especially to consumers who prefer smaller phones or to those who couldn't afford the iPhone 6s. The problem is, however, that Western markets don't offer Apple much opportunity for growth. Emerging markets are where all the industry's growth is right now, and even $499 is far more than many in emerging markets can afford. Dropping the price as low as $399 would be a big help.
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