For all those hankering for a small phone that isn't rubbish, you just got your wish. Apple just launched its iPhone SE last night, and it's a mere 4 inches. You'll be able to hold it real sweetly in your hand and because it's a matte finish, maybe it'll be less slippery.
Nor will it look like the iPhone 5c, which despite the pretty colours, nobody fell in love with very much. No, it'll look much more like the other recent iPhones and probably remain a coveted device. Or will it? At first, it seemed like the iPhone SE 16GB would cost Rs. 30,000. Most people thought that was good, rather good. It couldn't get much lower because that would reduce its brand snob value. It couldn't get much more expensive or the whole idea of extending the iPhone line to get some more traction in developing countries like India, would be lost. So, Rs 30,000 it was.
Except that it wasn't. Overnight (India time), Apple India corrected that price to Rs 39,000. Now suddenly people are not that sure. I just saw a space grey iPhone 6 online at Rs. 31,000. So will there be enough people in India who want the smaller iPhone that costs as much as a not-so-old bigger iPhone with their being little other difference between them? Very doubtful, but the fact is consumers really have shown a preference for larger phones, even eating into tablet territory.
On the other hand, you never know because Apple hasn't been doing at all badly in India in the above-30,000-price range, better than Xiaomi, though behind Samsung, according to analyst firm CMR (CyberMedia Research). Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has also said more than once that India is important to Apple -- and it would be because places like the US and China have bought enough iPhones already and the next big base of users has to come from India.
CMR analyst Faisal Kawoosa doesn’t see any big shift for Apple in India because of the iPhone SE. “It’s no game changer,” he says. “Even if it grabs a very optimistic 100% of the smartphone opportunity around the Rs 40k price range it is in, Apple would move up to 3.5-4% share, as against its existing 2.1%. But even that is unrealistic.”
Apple calls the iPhone SE, 'the most powerful phone with a four-inch display, in a beloved compact aluminium design.' That's true enough. The phone will come in metallic finishes, including rose gold. It will also have pretty snappy performance with the same 64-bit A9 chip offered in iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s. The camera, because that's one of the strongest reasons for getting an iPhone, is going to be no less capable than the one on the bigger iPhones. The new iPhone will not however have the famous 'force touch' feature. No matter. Unless Apple re-thinks the price downward (it’s projecting the rupee at a bizarre Rs 98 to the US dollar, at this price), this is, as the analysts tell us, no game-change for Apple or the iPhone.
Lila Ray is a corporate consultant who likes her gadgets almost more than her shoes. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org