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Why iPhone SE makes sense

Apple's decision to introduce the small-form-factor iPhone SE has been bagged in some quarters. But it makes sense.

One of the funny things about mobile phones is in about 15 years we've gone from a situation where it didn't seem possible to make one that was too small to the apparently prevailing wisdom that bigger is always better.

But the growing informality of male business wear is making it increasingly difficult to comfortably accommodate today's large phones - notably the iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus - in a pocket. (I'm not overlooking women as smartphone users, just letting them speak for themselves.)

And since iPhone 6 prices start at $929, that's another hurdle.

While the iPhone 5s was cheaper, it fell well short of its more recent sibling in terms of features and performance. And we're all familiar with the tendency for software to be written with current models in mind, often leading to a less than satisfactory experience on older hardware.

So introducing the iPhone SE with broadly similar specs to the iPhone 6 but in a smaller package and at a lower price makes a lot of sense to me, even if the screen has a lower resolution and lacks the Taptic Engine and therefore the 3D Touch feature that a lot of iPhone users seem to appreciate.

Still, that's pretty close to the full iPhone experience.

At $679 and up, the iPhone SE is still a pricey phone, but then we know Apple doesn't play in the low end of the market. If you only want to spend $200-$300, Apple doesn't want your money. That was established a long time ago,

Importantly, the iPhone SE does open up the 'full power' iPhone market to additional customers - not just those limited by budget, but also those who simply find a smaller phone more convenient. Both categories have shallow pockets... (groan).

Some commentators and commenters are falling into the same trap we've seen time and time again: just because a product isn't right for you or isn't what you want, that doesn't mean it is a mistake. Other people have different needs and priorities.

The trick vendors must pull off is correctly gauging a combination of features, performance and price the market will accept in sufficient numbers.

All that said, I have a feeling that when the iPhone 7 appears, the iPhone (7) SE will again be an afterthought - which is a shame for those who prefer more readily pocketable phones.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.