The second-generation iPhone SE resembles Apple’s previous design used for its smartphones between 2014 and 2017, complete with the traditional touch ID home button instead of face recognition. It costs from £419 in the UK and $399 in the US.
The new phone is a follow-up to the entry-level iPhone SE from 2016, which reused the design of the iPhone 5S. The new iPhone SE replaces 2017’s iPhone 8, which was until recently the cheapest iPhone on sale, costing £479 in the UK and $449 in the US.
The second-generation iPhone SE has a 4.7in Retina HD LCD screen, making it one of the few smaller smartphones available. The back is glass and it has aluminium sides like the iPhone 8. It is water-resistant to IP67 standards – 1-metre depths for up to 30 minutes – and has Qi wireless charging.
The new 4G phone also has the current A13 Bionic chip, matching that in the iPhone 11 line, meaning that the technology inside the phone is not dated compared to the other current iPhones.
It has a single 12-megapixel camera on the back, supporting 4K video, and a seven-megapixel selfie camera on the front. It comes with at least 64GB of storage, with 128GB and 256GB models available, and is available in black, white or red. It will be available to pre-order from 1pm on Friday and ships on 24 April in the UK.
Having been responsible for extending the smartphone cost ceiling beyond the £1,000-barrier, with new models such as the iPhone 11 Pro Max pushing it to £1,149 and upwards, recent sales figures have consistently shown Apple’s cheapest £729 iPhone 11 model to be the bestseller.
Apple will hope that the cheaper and smaller iPhone will help drive new sales under the spectre of Covid-19 and upgrades from older models, particularly from those still using an iPhone 6, which is no longer supported by updates.
“The new iPhone SE has the potential to drive the next wave of adoption of Apple’s popular smartphone brand. Its aggressive pricing will challenge not only sales of new Android smartphones but is also likely to affect companies who refurbish and resell second-hand iPhones, said Ben Wood, the head of research at CCS Insight.
Apple will be relying almost exclusively on online sales and those through network operators, given it was forced to close all of its retail stores outside of China on 14 March. Despite being down approximately 20% year-on-year, Apple’s iPhone sales in China rebounded in March to 2.5m, up more than three times from February according to government figures, as Chinese retailers resumed operations.
But Wood cautioned: “Apple will be nervously waiting to see whether the arrival of such an affordable and well-specified iPhone will make consumers think twice about buying its premium flagship products, which, depending on configuration, can easily approach three times the cost of the new iPhone SE. History shows that iPhone purchasers seem happy to pay the premium Apple’s products command, but the current global economic uncertainty risks challenging this assumption.”