Commentary

Phone SE Devotees Say There's A Market For Smaller, Less Costly Devices

For a while over the weekend, the beloved-in-some-circles iPhone SE -- with its 4-inch screen and affordable price -- appeared to be back from its reported demise at an even cheaper price. 

Apple originally pulled the iPhone SE, which launched in March 2016, last September. But from Saturday to Sunday, it was available in Apple’s clearance store in the U.S., MacRumors was the first to report, with 32GB of storage for $249 and with 128GB of storage for $299. That represented $100 to $150, respectively, off the former price.

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“It’s unclear why Apple is selling the iPhone SE again, but it would appear to be clearing out stock. The iPhone SE remains on sale at select authorized resellers, as reflected on Apple’s compare iPhone models page when the iPhone SE is selected,” MacRumors reported.

“Of course, with Apple recently lowering its revenue guidance for the quarter just ended due to fewer iPhone upgrades than it anticipated, speculation will certainly mount that Apple is doing everything it can to boost iPhone sales,” it continues.

The escalating sizes -- and cost -- of mobile devices has become the stuff of headlines. The cheapest later-model iPhone sold directly by Apple is the iPhone 7, which costs $449. The newer iPhone XR is also $449 with a trade-in.

“The iPhone SE was considered Apple's best iPhone among the cognoscenti, thanks to the fact it packed the guts of a higher end iPhone 6S into the smaller body of an iPhone 5S. It was also cheaper than the rest of Apple's flagship lineup at the starter price of $349,” Shona Ghosh writes for Business Insider.  

Philip Michaels, a senior editor for Tom’s Guide, is one of those cognoscenti. His editor in chief, Mark Spoonauer, spotted him checking his email recently at the CES show in Las Vegas. 

“What... is that?” asked Spoonauer. 

“There was a mix of both concern and horror in his voice as he pointed at my phone. His lip may also have been curled in disgust,” Michaels writes.

Then he details all the reasons why he sticks with the SE, starting with the fact that he has “normal size hands” that tend to fumble larger screens. Plus, he’s “an iOS guy” who “hate[s] paying more than $500 for a phone" and “those SE specs are still pretty good.” Not to mention that it also “has a headphone jack.”

Michaels makes the obvious point: With its sales slipping worldwide, shouldn’t Apple market “a device that appeals to us compact phone devotees, reviving rumors of an iPhone SE 2 that briefly surfaced last year”?

Jerome Santos takes a look at those rumors for International Business Times.

“More than its comfort, the speculations about the iPhone SE 2 say that it’ll come with improved performance and features fitting to current Apple technology. As reported by iMore, the iPhone SE 2 could have a ‘fullscreen’ feature where the phone’s front is all screen and the home button is fully integrated to it. While that design sounds great, we’ve yet to see a smartphone that pulls off this feature reliably. If the phone is experiencing memory issues, it may affect the home button’s reaction time.”

Meanwhile, there are other iPhone rumors out there -- again, with speculation about whether the “leaks” are strategic slips by Apple.

“In recent years, the best iPhone leaks have come ‘accidentally’ from Apple, and it happens too frequently to be a coincidence. Now, with iPhone sales stalling and talk of further price cuts, Apple is again looking to change the narrative by subtly teasing a red-hot new iPhone upgrade,” Gordon Kelly writes for Forbes.

"As discovered by fan site AppleInsider, Apple has quietly filed a patent detailing how new iPhones will be able to tell you want to take a photo and automatically open the camera. Furthermore, the hardware required to do this has already been confirmed as a feature coming to iPhones this year,” he continues.

Whether it actually does or not remains to been at an Apple reveal some time down the road.

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