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Apple reveals £419 iPhone SE

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Apple has announced a new version of its popular iPhone SE which borrows design and technology elements from recent generations of Apple’s top-of-the-line smartphone range, but will be priced starting from just £419.

While sticking to the formula that Apple first introduced in 2014 with the iPhone 6, the new iPhone SE will feature the latest-generation system-on-chip (SoC) in the form of the A13 Bionic - the same chip used in last year’s iPhone 11.

This second-generation iPhone SE also eschews Face ID technology - first introduced with the iPhone X in 2017 - in favour of Apple's fingerprint-based Touch ID system, which also acts as a home button. Many users still prefer this approach.

The diminutive 4.7in Retina HD display comes with a relatively low pixel density of 326ppi, but could appeal to those users put off by the ever-expanding size of smartphone screens and who want something small enough to fit in a pocket, but still be an up-to-date handset.

The original iPhone SE was released four years ago, partly in response to consumer demand to bring back the metal, flat-sided body style of the iPhone 4 and 5, which had an enthusiastic fan base. The new iPhone SE features the smoother, rounded-edge design of more recent iPhones. 

Throughout its range of consumer devices, Apple has often returned to form factor designs used in previous generations in order to help minimise the R&D cost of creating an entirely new chassis while focusing on internal upgrades.

The top-of-the-range iPhone 11 Pro Max, introduced in September last year, started at £1,049: more than double the £419 entry price point of the new SE.

Analysts’ research has indicated that the length of time users keep a smartphone before upgrading is growing longer, as prices for the latest handsets each year continue to rise.

In recent years, manufacturers of Android phones have been pumping out mid-range handsets that are proving increasingly popular, although Apple has largely stuck to premium, higher-priced devices.

The iPhone SE will see hot competition from Google’s Pixel 4a, which is expected to be announced in the coming weeks at a similar price point.

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said: “The first iPhone SE was a hit with many customers who loved its unique combination of small size, high-end performance and affordable price. The new second-generation iPhone SE builds on that great idea and improves on it in every way – including our best-ever single-camera system for great photos and videos – while still being very affordable.

“The iPhone SE features the industry-leading performance of A13 Bionic that enables great battery life; takes stunning Portrait mode and Smart HDR photos; shoots amazing videos with stereo audio; is great for games and super-fast web surfing, and is built with the same industry-leading security features our customers expect. We can’t wait to get iPhone SE into customers’ hands.”

Ben Wood, smartphone expert and chief of research at analyst firm CCS Insight, suggested the price and specs of the new iPhone SE would make it an appealing proposition: “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.

“I think consumers will see this new version of the iPhone SE as more affordable than its predecessor. In 2016, there was a $400 difference between the iPhone SE and a 64GB iPhone 6s Plus. In 2020, the new iPhone SE costs $700 less than a 64GB iPhone 11 Pro Max.”

Apple confirmed the new iPhone SE would be available for pre-order from this Friday, April 17.

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