Apple Releases IPhone SE, A $399 Device For Uncertain Economic Times

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Apple has rolled out the iPhone SE, with its $399 price aimed at maintaining demand for the flagship device during a turbulent economic period for much of the world.

Due to COVID-19, Apple stores remain closed, but the company will begin taking online orders for the new iPhone, with deliveries projected to begin on April 24. T-Mobile and Sprint also have announced plans to offer the phone.

The SE is a newer edition of a previous model. With a 4.7-inch screen, it is noticeably smaller than recent iPhones and far less beefy than the “pro” line of iPhone 11s introduced last fall at a top price of $1,099. While it does not offer 5G or facial-recognition security, the phone has a 4K Retina video display, the same A13 Bionic processor as the iPhone 11 and enhanced camera options like portrait lighting.

Streaming video — which Apple has invested in recently with an overhauled Apple TV app and the Apple TV+ subscription service — is definitely a core feature of the new phone. The company said the SE can stream video for 13 hours without needing to be recharged. On the company’s website, a promotion for the phone’s “binge-worthy battery life” showed it running an episode of Dickinson, one of the original series on Apple TV+ when it launched last November.

Overall iPhone sales have slowed over the past year and a half as phone plans evolve and technology improves, making upgrades less frequent. Instead of relying on the fortunes of a single device, Apple has looked to diversify its balance sheet by emphasizing its services unit, which includes fast-growing units like ApplePay and Apple Music. TV, credit card, videogame and news offerings are also part of the services effort, as is the App Store, whose model enables the company to take a hefty fee from each transaction in the store.

On its most recent quarterly earnings call, Apple set out a goal of reaching 600 million paid subscribers to all of its various services by the end of calendar 2020. It ended 2019 with 480 million, as well as 1.5 billion active device accounts.

As it builds out Apple TV+, having cheaper devices like the SE gives the company a chance to secure new subscribers to the $5-a-month offering, which has been given free for a year to anyone buying an Apple product.

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