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Apple unveils new budget iPhone

With prices starting at $399, the second generation iPhone SE is a budget alternative to Apple's higher end models. See what features are included and why a cheaper phone is a timely strategy for Apple.

Posted: Apr 16, 2020 1:40 AM
Updated: Apr 16, 2020 1:40 AM

After years of releasing smartphones with four-figure price tags, Apple is reintroducing a lower-cost, stripped down iPhone model in an apparent effort to broaden its customer base.

During a virtual presentation with reporters on Wednesday morning, a new normal for tech launches during the global pandemic, the company announced a new version of the iPhone SE, which launched in 2016. The second-generation SE model starts at just $399, far less than the entry-level iPhone 11, which costs $699, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which starts at $1099.

At 4.7 inches, the new SE is smaller than the latest lineup of iPhones -- the iPhone 11 is 6.1 inches -- but comes with the same fast processor that's in the11 Pro. It also offers a Retina HD display, 4K video and a home button that enables TouchID.

The smaller size, display choice and Touch ID feature may help keep the cost down but could turn off customers who are accustomed to the current lineup of bigger iPhones with higher pixel density and an option to unlock via facial recognition.

But the new SE does pack a wide camera with image stabilization and faster autofocus in low light, along with features such as portrait mode, depth of field control and lighting adjustment tools. In a tweet, CEO Tim Cook called it the "best single-camera system ever in an iPhone." It has the same battery life as the iPhone 8.

The iPhone SE, which comes in white, black and red, is available for pre-order starting Friday and ships to customers on April 24.

The lower price point could allow Apple to attract more customers in both the US and internationally and better compete with Android-based manufacturers like Google and Samsung, which already offer cheaper iPhone alternatives.

The original iPhone SE also sold for $399 when it was introduced four years ago. The device packed the internals of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6S Plus into the 4-inch body of the iPhone 5, serving as an alternative for people who didn't want a bigger device or the price tag that comes with it. The iPhone SE accounted for less than 10% of total iPhone volumes in 2016, according to IDC Research.

The launch of another budget-friendly iPhone has been rumored for years, but the actual launch could be well timed given the current economic climate, with sweeping layoffs and the fears of a potential global recession. But launching the budget phone during the pandemic poses challenges, too.

In February, Apple sold fewer than 500,000 iPhones in China -- one of its biggest markets -- a plunge of more than 60% compared to the same month last year, according to government data. Apple's retail stores, valuable real estate for the company to showcase its latest devices, are closed outside of China until further notice.

The pandemic will likely have a significant impact on Apple's product plans for the year. In the fall, the company is widely rumored to launch four iPhone 12 models, a new HomePod and over-the-ear headphones. Some analysts suspect it could delay the launch of the much-anticipated 5G iPhone until consumer appetite returns.

In a similar virtual presentation last month, Apple unveiled its latest iPad Pro lineup. Across the tech industry, companies have been forced to cancel or rethink their big press events and conferences. Google and Facebook both canceled major developer conferences. Apple also said its Worldwide Developers Conference will be online-only this year.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1462456

Reported Deaths: 20308
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2005922494
Lake992001456
Allen903391005
Hamilton70705539
St. Joseph63078746
Elkhart48098622
Vanderburgh46217523
Tippecanoe42115330
Johnson37119516
Hendricks35078455
Porter33900460
Madison28036530
Clark25186321
Vigo24768341
LaPorte22894307
Monroe22201243
Howard21344372
Delaware20937363
Hancock18289217
Kosciusko17513199
Bartholomew17399212
Warrick16060212
Wayne15757296
Floyd15399252
Grant14898293
Morgan13934230
Boone13172136
Noble11421140
Dearborn11355112
Henry11312201
Shelby11231150
Marshall11041166
Dubois10782152
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Ohio119516
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2403645

Reported Deaths: 30922
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2596932036
Cuyahoga2572672998
Hamilton1666711699
Montgomery1103831586
Summit1066861382
Lucas895171149
Butler78647924
Stark747301383
Lorain62885783
Warren49934468
Mahoning49735909
Lake46850586
Clermont43541428
Delaware38876210
Trumbull38576748
Medina37611416
Licking36901401
Fairfield33848331
Greene32124416
Portage31381356
Clark30277440
Richland28251420
Wood27660289
Allen24372392
Miami22806389
Muskingum22298244
Columbiana22095399
Wayne21275354
Tuscarawas18847423
Erie18041221
Ashtabula17932338
Marion17503231
Scioto16553203
Ross16163249
Pickaway15536173
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Geauga15244221
Lawrence13847186
Huron13399182
Union1329683
Belmont13255247
Jefferson12864257
Sandusky12770197
Athens11949106
Knox11511195
Seneca11454200
Ashland10795174
Darke10673196
Washington10564168
Auglaize10152141
Crawford9854175
Shelby9699155
Brown9400140
Fulton9235148
Guernsey9109115
Defiance9057134
Highland9035143
Logan8955141
Clinton8719121
Mercer8640111
Madison8568104
Preble8002160
Williams7848135
Putnam7731135
Ottawa7629120
Champaign7556112
Jackson7383114
Perry714598
Coshocton7043136
Morrow694580
Fayette662287
Hardin6219125
Pike617086
Gallia594989
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Van Wert5779120
Henry565592
Hocking5521103
Carroll4828100
Wyandot482289
Holmes4747161
Paulding401163
Meigs375071
Monroe299368
Noble279851
Harrison279461
Morgan276848
Vinton239845
Unassigned08
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