For years Apple have produced gadgets that are aspirational buys for most consumers and an aspirational business model for other manufacturers.
While Apple made the most money on their phones of all smartphone manufacturers, they were not pleased to remain top of the pile when it came to flagship premium handsets.
Their previous efforts of going into the mid-range market hadn't gone quite as planned. Their ‘cheap and cheerful’ iPhone 5Cs had ended up costing just £80 less than the flagship back then. The watered-down specs and the plastic body hadn't done them any favours either.
So, today Apple are patting themselves on the back because the iPhone SE is their triumphant return to the mid-range market with the sole objective to conquer and put their stamp on it. The build quality of the phone is the same- the aluminium build that we have come to know the phones for and in a surprising move- the iPhone SE has the same chip (A9X) and motion sensor as the iPhone 6s.
All this with prices starting at £359.
Many smartphone manufacturers have made their fortunes (I am looking at you, Xiaomi) by copying the looks of Apple’s devices with Android inside. And the tech world would either fete them or shake heads at yet another ‘poor-man’s-iPhone’.
Although Apple are gambling away some of their vast profits (their operating profits are 28 percent), the mid-range market is ripe with prospect and very rudder-less right now with no clear winners.
Samsung have been too preoccupied with their flagships and LG don't really have any mid-rangers. There are established stalwarts like Sony and HTC who have lost focus as well as new kids on the block Xiaomi, Oppo and ZUK but phones that cost between £300-£400 have suffered from a woeful lack of innovation and a disgusting amount of Apple-gazing.
And while there are some really good phones there as well as quirky design features, there is no phone that really stands above the rest.
Apple’s other reason for making a cheaper phone is the great untapped developing market. India and China are where the next billion iPhone users will come from and while Apple already has the soft power over these markets, a cheaper, yet powerful iPhone will do the trick to get them onboard.
As Apple revealed at the launch- in 2015, they sold 30 million 4-inch handsets. Although not a huge number, it is the aspirational set, the first time phone users set and those who want a smaller device set. Whatever the reason, the iPhone SE is more than capable of taking on the competition and delivering money’s worth.
Apple have, in one clean swipe, put a cat amongst the pigeons in the highly volatile smartphone market.