Apple releases small new iPhone, iPad for business users
Apple unveiled a small new iPhone, a new iPad tablet for business use and price cuts for its Apple Watch at a product event Monday. The announcements, which were largely expected, aim to keep up the company's commercial momentum.
The company could use a lift. Sales of its flagship iPhone are levelling off after surging last year to record levels that made Apple the world's biggest company by stock market value. Many are wondering if CEO Tim Cook can come up with another big hit.
The new phone — the iPhone SE — is an upgrade to the older, four-inch iPhone 5S, released in 2013. It's aimed at consumers who haven't sprung for the bigger-screen iPhone 6 models that Apple introduced over the last two years. The new phone comes with features like Apple Pay and the company's fastest processor, which have previously been offered only on versions of the iPhone 6.
Apple also unveiled a smaller model of the iPad Pro, which the company introduced last year with several features — like a detachable keyboard and stylus — designed for business users.
The Apple Watch got a price cut, and will now start at US$299, down from US$349; it will also come with new wristbands made of woven nylon. Apple launched the smartwatch to great fanfare last year, although it has yet to win a big following.
The iPhone SE might not see the kind of blockbuster demand that Apple enjoyed with its large-screen iPhone 6 and 6S models, according to several financial analysts, but it could help Apple boost overall sales. It might also draw some additional users into the market for Apple's online services, including Apple Music, Apple Pay and the highly profitable mobile App Store.
While shoppers bought a record 74.8 million iPhones in the final three months of 2015, Apple has signalled demand in the current three-month period will fall short of the 61 million iPhones sold in the January-March quarter last year.
The iPhone SE will sell for US$399 with no cellular contract, significantly lower than larger iPhone models, which list at US$549 or more. The smaller phone may appeal to some shoppers, especially in overseas markets, who want a premium phone at lower cost. It could also draw interest from owners of older iPhone 5 models who find the larger models unwieldy.
Analysts generally expect Apple to release a more dramatically revamped iPhone 7 in the fall.