No, it doesn’t have the OLED display, or the edge-to-edge screen. It also doesn’t have multiple cameras or a big battery with super-fast charging capability. Still, Apple’s new $399 iPhone SE will beat all Android flagships this year in terms of sales. Call it Apple’s brand power, Tim Cook’s long-term outlook, or the coronavirus outbreak, the iPhone SE is going to change the smartphone market this year and beyond.
With the iPhone SE, Apple brought to the table what not many companies could pull off in this price range. Even as Apple once again gets ready to sell an iPhone for as low as $399 (In India, iPhone SE retails for Rs 42,500), Cupertino is making sure the phone caters to not just budget shoppers, but loyal fans as well. In a way, Apple took a different path to its peers, OnePlus and Samsung, by offering a premium phone that is clearly intended for the mainstream, something both OnePlus and Samsung have not been able to tap in yet.
If you dig deep into Apple’s strategy, you will realise that the iPhone SE falls into a new category, a new price segment that will force the competition to make drastic changes in their smartphone portfolio. In fact, the competition has already started to respond to the iPhone SE. In India, OnePlus has set the OnePlus 8 price on par with the iPhone SE. Interestingly, OnePlus 8 is being sold for a higher price in countries like the US and China.
That said, it would be surprising if OnePlus didn’t have a response, as India is the biggest market for the BBK-owned brand. It is also a clear acknowledgment that the iPhone SE is a threat to their market share. OnePlus somewhere knows that if the iPhone SE gets a positive response in India, it would have a negative impact on sales of the OnePlus 8. The threat is real because Apple’s past few smartphones, be it the iPhone XR or iPhone 11, have done commercially well in India.
But Apple’s intent with the iPhone SE is to put the focus on features and not specifications. It’s the experience that will keep differentiating the brand Apple because the company knows how people use smartphones and what they want in a mobile device.
Apple has stated that the iPhone SE is “a powerful new smartphone in a popular design,” and you can see why. On the surface, the new iPhone SE may look like the iPhone 8. It has the same display size and LCD panel, the phone has a similar design, Touch ID fingerprint sensors rather than Face ID single, 12MP rear camera and a 7MP front camera.
But things start to change when we talk about the internals. The phone is equipped with Apple’s A13 Bionic chip, which the company says is “the fastest chip in a smartphone”. This is the same chipset that’s also found in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. Even if you spend Rs 1,17,100 on the iPhone 11 Pro Max, you will get the same chipset. Not just the processor, Apple also promises to support the iPhone SE for good three-four years through software updates.
The truth is none of the devices offered by the competition can truly compete with the iPhone SE in that price segment. They are either far bulkier, or hard to use one-handed or pack features that people don’t use often. In reality, none of them offer anything that can match the simplicity of the iPhone SE or Apple’s ecosystem.