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Although Apple likely won’t be holding its spring event next week as we’d originally hoped, there’s no doubt it’s still coming; it will likely just be later in the month.
One of the new products we’ve been expecting to headline that event is a new 5G-capable iPhone SE, which will undoubtedly replace the current 2020 iPhone SE at the same $399 price point.
That will still make it the cheapest 5G iPhone ever, and at that price it’s going to give mid-tier 5G smartphones from competitors like Google and Samsung a run for their money. However, Apple might even have one more trick up its sleeve.
A $199 iPhone
In his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman came up with an interesting idea: Rather than discontinuing the 2020 iPhone SE, Apple could keep on selling it at a much lower price.
While that definitely wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility, as Apple regularly marks down older models and keeps them in the lineup, it would be the first time Apple has done this with the already wallet-friendly iPhone SE lineup.
As Apple doesn’t typically drop previous-model prices by more than $100, we’d assume that if the current iPhone SE were to stick around, it would simply drop to $299 for the base configuration.
However, Gurman’s suggestion is even bolder, imaging that Apple could keep selling it for $199, making it the lowest-priced iPhone in history.
The line of thinking here is that a $199 iPhone would be the solution that Apple has been looking for to help it build a stronger presence in emerging markets, while also paying off in the long run for Apple’s services.
A device priced at $200 could make inroads in regions like Africa, South America and parts of Asia that are currently Android strongholds. That would let Apple Inc. sign up more customers for services, potentially making a low-end iPhone quite lucrative for Apple in the long run. But so far, the company has steered well clear of that approach.Mark Gurman
To be clear, this demand has been there for nearly ten years, and Apple has largely ignored it. The few times the idea of a bargain-basement iPhone came up, Apple’s executives have flatly said that they weren’t interested in “blindly chasing market share.” As Steve Jobs once famously said, we “don’t ship junk.”
However, the 2020 iPhone SE is clearly not junk. When it came out nearly two years ago, we wrote about how it provided incredible value for $399, with the same A13 CPU as the iPhone 11 series, a great camera with single-lens Portrait Mode, and a 256GB capacity option.
The current iPhone SE also came along when the iPhone 11 was still Apple’s flagship model, and that was selling for $699 at the time. Today, you can buy the same iPhone 11 for $499, so it’s not a stretch to believe that Apple could discount the 2020 iPhone SE by the same $200 margin, bringing it down to $199.
As Gurman notes, many third-party resellers are already distributing the iPhone SE at sub-$200 prices, and of course, it’s not hard at all to find refurbished models out there at those prices.
If Apple offers its own $199 device, the company could have a hot seller in developing markets. It would also provide an option to shoppers who don’t care about 5G service—and aren’t interested in a $1,000 iPhone 13.Mark Gurman
Not only would an ultra-low-cost iPhone SE provide an affordable path into the Apple ecosystem of other products and services, but it could also be an answer to the iPod touch, which is becoming more of a white elephant in Apple’s product lineup as the years go on.
Although the iPod touch received a modest update in 2019, even then, it still packed in an aging A10 Fusion chip — the same one found in the 2016 iPhone 7 — and a four-inch screen that mostly went out of vogue that same year.
Years ago, the iPod touch made a lot of sense. It was an affordable path of entry into the iOS ecosystem for those who either didn’t want an iPhone or couldn’t afford one. It made a great way to get kids hooked on iOS, and Apple’s services. In fact, it’s no coincidence that one of the biggest iPod touch updates in recent years came along the very same month that Apple Music launched.
Today, however, the iPod touch has become something of an anachronism. As the last remaining device to bear the name “iPod”, there may be some within Apple that have a hard time letting it go, but as a whole, Apple isn’t a company that waxes nostalgic about such things. It prefers to look forward, not backward, and the iPod is part of its past. The iPhone is the present and the near future.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]