In 2016, when the iPhone SE was launched it was targeting new markets like India, where Apple was still a very aspirational and, as a result, expensive brand. But the SE was still the most affordable iPhone you could buy, if you did not opt for a much older device.
Today, as Apple announces the iPhone SE 2020, it is playing to different needs and strengths. In India for instance, it finally has a new phone that is flying off the shelves in the iPhone 11. It has an older phone driving volumes in the iPhone XR. And it has two flagships at different price points — iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max — to rake in the margins. With the new iPhone SE, Apple seems to be preparing for an eventual phasing out of the iPhone XR.
But first, a bit about the pricing of the new iPhone SE. At Rs 42,500, the phone is more expensive than its first version at launch. The original iPhone SE started selling at Rs 39,000. But then, four years ago, the US dollar was at around Rs 67. Now it is almost Rs 10 more at over Rs 76 to a dollar. So, the same $399 price is adding up to a higher India price tag. The general volatility of the market is only adding to this. So the iPhone SE has become more expensive for Indian buyers.
But the pricing of the iPhone SE is exactly Rs 10,000 less than the iPhone XR. While the iPhone XR is available for much lesser on e-commerce sites, with cash backs and exchange offers kick in, the iPhone SE will continue to be cheaper since these will be available for the SE too. So the iPhone SE will end up being a cheaper Apple phone for Indians.
But then it is a better phone than the iPhone XR. It has the latest A13 Bionic processor, fast charging, wireless charging, dual SIM and eSIM. Some of these are features the iPhone XR cannot offer being an older phone. That suddenly makes the iPhone SE a better value proposition for Indians, maybe at a cheaper cost overall.
Watch our video review of the original iPhone SE
While Apple, like all other smartphone companies, is struggling with the complete shut down of its retails interfaces with customers, when things open up it can expect to cash in with this new phone. It has missed some important festivals across India because of this delayed launch, but there could well be a bit of pent up demand that it can encash on post the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
But before we start comparing this phone with others in the market, let’s be clear on one thing. This is Apple’s budget offering for the coming few quarters and this is the reason Cupertino did not launch a new version of the iPhone XR last year.
For the moment, this looks like a strategy that could work.
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