Why Apple’s iPhone SE is this season’s smartphone

It's slightly more affordable, delivers a long life span and has the best available mobile processor -- plus, it's easy to use with your mask on.

Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPhone SE, iPhone 11
Apple

Apple’s iPhone SE will be the mid-range flagship of the company’s smartphone range for the next two years, as the company delivers all the device most people need at a price that’s going to be more within the reach of most.

Yeah, but what about 5G?

The hard truth is that the incoming 5G standard is irrelevant and will remain so for longer than even I originally anticipated.

COVID-19 is having a chilling effect on network roll-out, service and infrastructure investment and enterprise IT budgets are shifting to crisis management, remote collaboration and RPA to help navigate current challenges.

With a workforce stuck at home, iPads, notebooks and external displays are more relevant investments for many enterprises. 5G devices aren’t much use outside major conurbations (yes, that's the right word, look it up - editor). Not only this, but supply chain constraints mean shipments in most categories are down – and likely to remain so for some time yet.

A little of what you need

In this context, what Apple has introduced with the all-new iPhone SE is the smartphone for the rest of us. It’s a relatively affordable device that runs the best OS, has a good camera and carries the world’s best mobile processor.

If you get one now, you can be reasonably confident it will be supported for at least five years, which means it will run the then-current operating system (with security updates) until around 2025.

And that means the device will be the one to beat in the mid-range of the market for some time.

When device speed matters more than network bandwidth

On processor power alone, you could argue that the majority of devices out there still can’t match the performance of iPhones from two years ago. You can throw all the speedy 5G networking you want at a slow device, it will still run that shiny new 5G service you pay so much to access slowly, reducing user satisfaction.

It's fast enough for most of us, powerful enough for most tasks. Counterpoint Research predicts Apple will sell 15 million SEs this year.

In around two years, once 5G is something every smartphone user has access to, people will begin to upgrade – but even then the fast LTE, Wi-Fi 6 and processor mean the SE will still be a good choice. And probably even a little cheaper by then. 

Happy customers turn into happy customers

Apple has figured out that if it keeps its customers happy, it can generate additional sales and service revenues from those customers.

Counterpoint estimates this to be around $2,400 over 30 months from a power iPhone user who will subscribe to its services. But even more modest spenders will invest in more, principally iCloud, apps and entertainment.

What's that coming over the hill? New AirPods, of course. And an Apple Watch, too. 

The device-upgrade cycle

The decision to introduce a new SE should please existing iPhone owners who climbed onto Apple’s train before it really shifted its focus into high-end $1,000+ smartphones.

Those people now have a viable upgrade path they can more easily afford that allows them to retain their existing investments in the Apple ecosystem.

This is going to cut into mid-range sales, denying a little more oxygen to Samsung, LG or any other competitor.

It is also worth noting that for most consumers in the real world, $399+ actually is a premium price. With this in mind, it’s good that – thanks to the SE's fast processor, consistent upgrade path and access to world-class services and apps – you actually do get a premium experience for the price.

Though you can still aspire to more, thanks to the iPhone 11 range.

A child of its times

For me, perhaps the best thing about the iPhone SE is that you can use it with Touch ID, which makes it the best current Apple smartphone for face mask users experiencing life during lockdown.

A great phone. A great price. A good investment. What's not to like?

Tip: Don’t forget that if you are using your iPhone 8, 8 Plus or X-series Face ID device while wearing a mask you can easily disable Face ID by holding down both the power button and either the volume up or down button until you reach the emergency calls screen. Tap Cancel and Touch ID will be temporarily disabled, so you can access your device using the passcode. 

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