iPhone ‘SE’ — Elements of interest

Apple’s event at Town Hall has less than 24 hours to go and among other announcements, the iPhone ‘SE'(name assumed as such for the rest of the article) is almost certain to be announced. I wanted to list the things about this new 4-inch phone that I’m most looking forward to.

The story

As John Gruber puts it in recent episodes of The Talk Show, ‘How does Apple plan to sell this phone?’. Apple’s ideal form factor for a smartphone was the 4-inch iPhone before they realised they needed to make phones of bigger sizes. The 4-inch iPhone 5 was ideal for grip-ability and one-handed use; it was a problem with the iPhones 6 and hence the introduction of Reachability.

Introducing another 4-inch phone may imply – to the public – that Apple is ‘reverting’ back to the form they originally believed in. Apple always has a story, a reason as to why they introduce a ‘new’ product and I’m looking forward to see what the story of the SE is.

Additionally, I’m curious to see whether the iPhone SE is sold as ‘an entirely new iPhone’ or ‘all the power of the bigger iPhone, now smaller'(the introduction of the iPad mini is comparable). If it’s the former, the SE has to be a new design (even if that means combining elements of previous designs).

Design: Thinness and the draw

If Apple does decide to pitch the SE as an ‘entirely new iPhone’, thereby introducing a new design, they have one key advantage: the SE has the opportunity to be a thicker phone giving Apple a chance to adjust battery capacity1. Since it’s starting fresh and it won’t hold solid ground in comparisons with previous iPhones. (The iPhone 5C was thicker than the 5 it replaced but I don’t think Apple got any flak since it was ‘new’ and had no basis of comparison.)

As for the design itself, I’m curious to know which iPhone the SE draws it’s industrial design cues from. The iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 5C (the curved edges on the back might make a comeback, although I have no inclination towards the SE being made of polycarbonate), something completely new, or, as Marco points out in the latest ATP episode, the iPhone 7. (A reminder: the iPad Mini was a redesign and all iPads since have followed suit).

Price

This aspect of the SE is of special interest to me since I’ve speculated about it previously. Since then, I’ve gotten in touch with people – both smarter and better informed – than me, and my curiosity for how the SE would be priced is still unsatisfied.

My initial guess stands: If the SE is going to be offered under a carrier subsidy, it’ll most probably be priced at $99 for a standard two-year contract.

Screen

I haven’t seen any outlet talk about this aspect of the SE. Sure the size will be 4-inches but iPhone screens have advanced quite visibly since the launch of the iPhone 5S. Does the iPhone 6/6S make its way to the SE adjusted to size, is it custom built for the SE or do they finally embrace AMOLED?

 

I’ve watched Apple events similar to a sports fan watching their favourite team play — everything on my schedule cleared and pizzas delivered to the house. I’m just as excited to be looped in as I’ve been in the past.


  1. Ideal battery life according to Apple, today, is one day. If your usage doesn’t get you through the day, you’re a 4.7-inch iPhone user and you can buy the Apple Battery Case.The SE has a chance to be slightly thicker and reach iPhone 6+ (or, iPhone 6-in-an-Apple-Battery-Case) battery life without necessitating the use of a battery case. ↩︎

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