If you simply want a budget iPhone in 2019, your options are limited to the iPhone 6s or iPhone 7. However, this might change, according to a new report by Japanese blog Macotakara. The blog, citing a source familiar with Apple’s plans, claims the company could launch the iPhone 9 in 2020. This phone will be pitched as a mid-premium iPhone, complete with a 4.7-inch screen, TouchID, and the A13 Bionic chipset.
For the past few months, we’ve heard rumours of Apple planning to release a new budget iPhone to tap into the mid-range segment. It has been previously reported that the budget iPhone would be called the iPhone SE 2, considering it would succeed the original iPhone SE. Now suddenly we’re hearing that the second-generation Apple iPhone SE 2 could be called…iPhone 9.
Although there is no evidence of claims made by Japanese blog Macotakara, the naming scheme could make sense given the device resemblance with the iPhone 8. As pointed by celebrated Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities in a recent blog post, the so-called iPhone SE 2 will stick to an LCD display and a form factor nearly identical to the iPhone 8. If that turns out to be true, the iPhone 9 will essentially replace the aging iPhone 8 rather than being a sequel to the iPhone SE. Whatever it’s called, the good news is that Apple is said to price the device starting at $399 and have 64GB as base storage. The budget iPhone will reportedly go into production next month with a March 2020 release expected.
Why the iPhone 9 makes sense for India
If there is a market where the iPhone 9 makes the most sense, it is India. With booming smartphone sales, India could help Apple ship more smartphones and eventually drive its services business in the long run.
The iPhone 9, in a lot of ways, is the iPhone Apple needs to hit the sweet spot without diluting its brand image as a premium brand. Look, Apple doesn’t need a sub-Rs 20,000 iPhone to double its market share. Instead, Apple simply needs a premium mid-range iPhone that replaces the iPhone 6s to become the entry-level model in India. For reference, the iPhone 6s is selling for Rs 24,000 (or approx $336) on various e-commerce sites in India.
Ideally, the iPhone 9 should cost Rs 28,000 (or approx $392). If Apple manages to price the iPhone 9 under Rs 30,000, it could be a big win for Apple from the strategy point of view. This will put Apple in direct competition to OnePlus, which has built its reputation as a premium brand in India.
But to bring the price down to Rs 28,000, Apple will be making some sacrifices. As reports suggest, the iPhone 9 will use a 4.7-inch LCD display, TouchID, and an identical to the iPhone 8. However, for a change, the device will be powered by the latest A13 Bionic chipset. This means all apps and services such as Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ will work smoothly on the iPhone 9.
The success of iPhone XR shows Apple’s firepower
Ever since Apple dropped the price of the iPhone XR and introduced the iPhone 11, Apple’s market share in the premium smartphone is on the rise. In fact, Apple was crowned as the top player in the high-end segment with 51.6 per cent market share in Q3 2019 in India, according to research firm IDC. This shows that Apple’s strategy of selling smartphones at higher prices has worked in a market where it competes with Samsung and OnePlus. The move worked in favour of Apple, because somewhere consumers felt the pricing was right and the devices had solid specifications and features.
‘Made in India’ iPhone 9 more than a symbolic gesture
We don’t know yet if Apple chooses to assemble the iPhone 9 in India, but if it does, it will be more than a symbolic gesture. Given Apple already assembles the iPhone XR at Taipei-based contract manufacturer Foxconn’s factory in India, it would be nice if Apple decides to make the iPhone 9 in the country. This will not only help Apple to avoid high lives on the import of fully built devices but also help improve its public image in the country. In the future, Apple is also expected to open its first retail store in India, allowing it to connect with consumers on a personal level.