First things first, in 2016, Apple, the most valuable tech company in the world, and thus one would think one of the wisest, still sees fit to make phones with only 16GB of storage and no option of expanding the storage via a microSD slot. Unbelievable? Absolutely. But what’s that thing about truth being stranger than fiction, again? Oh yeah, that it often is.
Second things second, local pricing for the iPhone SE has been revealed… and it starts at R8,500 for the 16GB model. The 64GB model, meanwhile, will set you back R10,500. That’s right, there’s no 32GB model. Thanks Apple. If, despite these obvious failings, you still want an iPhone SE you’ll be able to get your hands on one tomorrow at local Apple retailers.
If you were hoping this was going to be Apple’s budget phone for emerging markets, think again. Sure, it’s “budget” by Apple’s standards, but that still makes it a premium device by any regular person’s measure.
So, aside from dismal onboard storage and a weird feeling that you’ve travelled back in time to 2013 when the iPhone 5s was released, what does your R8,500 purchase get you? The iPhone SE includes a 4-inch touch display, Apple’s A9 processor, its Touch ID fingerprint sensor, a 12MP primary camera and Apple’s usual — somewhat disappointing — secondary, front-facing “FaceTime HD camera”.
You’ll also get Live Photos (the GIF-like moving images introduced on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus), LTE and the opportunity to hate on iCloud’s bugginess like the rest of the Apple community. Basically, it’s a modern iPhone dressed like a vintage one. Which arguably makes it even hipper and, thus, even more desirable to fashionable sorts than a regular iPhone. We’re not fashionable sorts, so we can’t say for sure.
Sure, there’s no 3D Touch — the pressure sensitivity added to the screens of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus — but one has to wonder how much of a unique selling point that really is? We certainly haven’t found it indispensable.
If you like, you can even trade in your (hopefully still) shiny iPhone 6s or 6s Plus for an iPhone SE to take the edge off the price. You can also trade in older iPhones, iPads or even Samsung Galaxy devices (cheeky, Core, we love it) if you so wish. For details of the trade-in programme, click here.
For all our cynicism, the iPhone SE will no doubt sell perfectly well. Why? Because Apple’s a hugely aspirational brand and R8,500 does put it in reach of more people than the usual five figure price tags its handsets carry. Also, it may well prove to be a delight to use — we’ll be sure to let you know on that front — and some people may actually want a smaller phone.
Heck, we used to be those people who thought 4-inch displays were enough for any phone. These days, though, we’re those people who who think pockets simply ought to be bigger. So, we’re not convinced the market for small handsets is that big outside of the over-50’s market, carnival folk with freakishly small hands, and those weird parents who buy their six year olds iPhones.
But no matter how many iPhone SE’s Apple sells, we can’t help feeling even the company’s own execs are having a hard time believing there’s any “innovation” at play here. The iPhone SE is about as innovative as a coffeeshop that previously sold flavoured coffee exclusively suddenly trumpeting its coffee-flavoured coffee. In other words, not at all. But, much like its doppelgänger the iPhone 5s, it sure is pretty.