The wait for the low-cost 5G iPhone is finally over. Apple has launched the third-generation iPhone SE with 5G capabilities and has the latest A15 Bionic chip under the hood. To make it more appealing to customers, Apple has also improved battery life along with a new camera system. All these upgrades and enhancements come for $429 – which Apple feels is reasonable!
With the launch of iPhone SE 5G, it has become clear that Apple has missed another opportunity to strengthen its presence in developing markets, especially India. Apple disappointed most smartphone enthusiasts who were excited until yesterday, anticipating a new lower price iPhone SE.
But before we jump into that discussion, it’s essential to take a quick look at the iPhone SE 5G specification that Apple launched yesterday.
The iPhone SE 5G sports the same 4.7-inch display offered by the current non-5G iPhone SE model but offers the most rigid glass in a smartphone’s front and back. It is the same glass used on the back of iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro.
The new 12MP wide camera system with iPhone SE 5G offers a variety of enhancements and computational photography features. Deep Fusion, Photographic Styles, Smart HDR 4, and Portrait Mode are the few notable enhancements.
Since the iPhone SE 2022 offers 5G connectivity, it was important for the device to have more processing power to provide a lag-free experience to users. Hence, Apple decided to put the A15 Bionic chip under the hood of iPhone SE 5G. It’s important to note that it’s the same chip used in the premium iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro. The 6-core CPU in iPhone SE 2022 makes it 1.8x faster than iPhone 8. Besides, the 16-core Neural engine, specifically designed for machine learning tasks, can execute 15.8 trillion operations each second, making the device 26x faster than the iPhone 8. At the same time, the 4-core GPU used in iPhone SE 5G is 2.2x faster than the iPhone 8.
Apple’s strategy behind powering the new low-price iPhone with the A15 Bionic is to enhance the battery life of iPhone SE 5G. To make it worth its price upgrade, the company has added fast charging and made it compatible with Qi-certified wireless chargers.
The new iPhone SE 5G comes in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage options.
Apple will start taking preorders for iPhone SE 5G from Friday, March 11, and the shipments will start from March 18.
The price of iPhone SE 5G starts from $429 onwards. It’s a straightforward increase of $30 than the non-5G iPhone SE 2020 model, price-tagged at $399.
And, that’s where things start becoming interesting!
iPhone SE 5G: Don’t Fall for it
Aspiring iPhone users have been demanding Apple launch a pocket-friendly iPhone for a long time. The excitement reached its peak when Apple announced an event scheduled for March 8, 2022, and rumours confirmed that the Cupertino giant is gearing for a new low-price iPhone.
Many over-enthusiasts were quick to declare that Apple is planning to take the market by the storm with iPhone that could be price tagged at $299 or lower.
They argued that Apple is working on a $200 iPhone SE to target the developing markets where the telecom companies either have no plans to roll out a 5G connectivity soon or are in the initial phase of 5G trials. India is no exception!
Despite the buzz around 5G, the Indian telecom companies and private players have been only conducting 5G trials. The progress is not very convincing either. Some of the recent reports have claimed that factoring the current circumstances, the 5G auction will only take place in July-August.
All of it indicates that the telecom companies in India will be in no position to offer 5G connectivity to common mobile phone users before the end of the year or early next year.
Even after the 8 years of 4G rollout in India, the stability of the network is still a challenge in many parts of the Metro cities. Hence, having a stable 5G connectivity in India before 2024 is out of the discussion.
Now, let’s see the above argument in the light of Apple’s frequency of launching a new iPhone.
Apple is well known for launching a new Phone every year. Even when it comes to low-price iPhone, Apple has been launching a new low-price iPhone in a span of every two years.
Hence, by the time smartphone users in India will witness the public rollout of 5G connectivity that they can use, Apple will likely launch the successor of the iPhone SE 5G.
Missing The Opportunity
Apple’s struggle in India is no more a secret. Despite every possible move, including the local production of a few iPhone models, Apple’s market share in India remains minuscule.
Apple accounts for less than 4% of India’s smartphone market. On the other hand, new entrants, majorly Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo, are aggressively gaining momentum.
The biggest reason behind such a lukewarm response received by Apple in India is its exorbitant pricing strategy.
India is widely popular as a price-sensitive market, and Apple’s single-camera iPhone at $399, or Rs 40,000, is falling sort of people’s expectations. Tim Cook, CEO – Apple Inc., claimed that the management is thrilled with the response received from the market though. However, he refrained from disclosing the sales figures of iPhone SE models in India.
The overall iPhone shipments in India went up by 44% in 2021. The growth, however, was driven mainly by entry-level iPhone 12. According to an independent report, Apple sold 5.4 million iPhones in India during the entire year, and 40% of those were iPhone 12.
Had Apple introduced a lower-priced iPhone SE with all the features same as iPhone SE 5G without 5G capability in India for $299 or lower, it would undoubtedly have a better chance for making people fall for it. The aspiration to own an iPhone is still as high as ever, and the fascination of flaunting an iPhone is far from dying down anytime soon.
Considering the above, a $299 non-5G iPhone SE with all upgraded features appears more appealing than the iPhone SE with 5G connectivity that no one can use in India, at least for another year or so.
Not only would the $299 device help become an onboarding tool for Apple to add more people to the iOS ecosystem, but it would also create a bigger pool of existing iPhone users looking to upgrade to iPhone 13 or even the Pro version of it.
No other company better than Apple knows how to reap the maximum from its existing users. For the last few years, the company has constantly increased its focus on service offerings, and mostly all are paid. It all has resulted in a record year-over-year increase in revenue from services. In fiscal 2021, Apple posted $68.45 billion in revenue from the software & services arm. In such a scenario, having a bigger pool of people connected with the ecosystem will allow Apple to have record revenue from its services arm.
India is one of those very few fast-developing markets far from saturation. And, for Apple, it’s crucial to capture a sizeable share of the market before people start becoming too comfortable with the Android ecosystem.
All said and done; it would still be interesting to see if Apple decides to make a price cut in iPhone SE 2020 and continue selling in India. The market response to the upcoming iPhone SE 5G is another exciting aspect to monitor closely.