At its first product event of the year on Tuesday, Apple unveiled an upgraded iPad Air, a new desktop computer and a powerful new Mac chip. But the standout product was a new budget iPhone with access to 5G networks. Apple’s new iPhone SE, only the third version since the model launched in 2017, runs on the company’s faster A15 Bionic chip, the same in-house processor that drives the iPhone 13 line. It also features an updated camera and a longer-lasting battery, packed into the same 4.7-inch display as the previous model. But it’s the added 5G capability that could be the ultimate draw for customers, by giving them access to the faster wireless network at a more affordable price point. However, the bump up to 5G comes with a price change. The device will cost $429 — $30 more than the previous model.
When Apple released its second version of the iPhone SE in April 2020, the budget smartphone seemed well-suited for the moment. The global pandemic was in its early days. Millions of households were grappling with job loss and financial uncertainty. And consumers were largely stuck at home, with less use for some of the bells and whistles that come with higher-end smartphones.
Apple on Tuesday sent out invitations to the media for an event on March 8, where it’s expected to announce a new low-cost iPhone model.
The event, with the tagline “Peek Performance,” will be streamed digitally on YouTube and Apple’s website. Apple’s launch affairs have been virtual since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.
It will be Apple’s first since October 2021, when it revealed new MacBook Pro laptops. Last year, the company held a spring event in April with new high-end iPads and the iMac computer.
Apple could announce a new low-cost iPhone with 5G support and a fingerprint reader, as well as a midrange iPad, according to media and analyst reports.
The company currently offers a low-cost iPhone called the iPhone SE, which was introduced in the spring of 2020, and retails for $399. It’s the most recent iPhone model with Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
The new iPad is expected to be an updated version of the iPad Air, according to Bloomberg. That device was last updated in October 2020 and currently retails for $599.
Apple could also release iOS 15.4, the latest version of iPhone software, with several new features including the option to use facial recognition to unlock the device while wearing a mask, and the ability to accept contactless credit card payments without additional hardware.
Apple’s spring device launches are less important to the company than its traditional fall events, which reveal pricier and more profitable high-end iPhone models ahead of the holiday shopping season. Apple also holds an annual developer conference in June called WWDC, where it sometimes releases new hardware.