Apple’s new budget iPhone will be faster and more expensive

FILE - People shop at an Apple Store in Beijing, Tuesday, September 28, 2021. Apple on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, unveiled a new version of its budget-priced iPhone capable of connecting to superfast 5G wireless networks, an upgrade level that has been available on the company's high-end models for over a year.  (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

FILE – People shop at an Apple Store in Beijing, Tuesday, September 28, 2021. Apple on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, unveiled a new version of its budget-priced iPhone capable of connecting to superfast 5G wireless networks, an upgrade level that has been available on the company’s high-end models for over a year. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

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Apple on Tuesday unveiled a new version of its affordable iPhone capable of connecting to superfast 5G wireless networks, an upgrade that has already been available on the company’s high-end models for more than a year.

The latest iPhone SE marks the first upgrade to the streamlined version of Apple’s most popular product in nearly two years. In the latest sign of inflationary pressures that have rocked the economy, the new iPhone SE will sell for $429 – an 8% increase from the $399 price for the last version that rolled out nearly two years ago. years at the start of the pandemic. The new iPhone SE will be available in stores on March 18.

As a pandemic precaution, Apple has always refrained from inviting the media and other guests to the in-person events it traditionally holds to showcase its latest products. Instead, Apple broadcast the event from the theater named after co-founder Steve Jobs at its headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Although the latest iPhone SE will feature a faster processor, longer-lasting 4.7-inch screen, and longer-lasting battery than the latest model, its biggest selling points will likely be its compatibility with still-emerging 5G wireless networks and its relatively low price.

That’s a steep discount from the fancier iPhone 13 lineup released last fall. Consisting of four different models, prices for the iPhone 13 range from $700 to $1,100. All of them, like the iPhone 12s released in fall 2020, can connect to 5G phones.

Even though 5G networks are still not widely available, the lure of faster connections has proven to be a major draw that has prompted more iPhone fans to upgrade to older models. The iPhone 13 proved to be such a sought-after product that it helped Apple overtake longtime rival Samsung as the world’s top smartphone seller in the last three months of last year. according to research group International Data Corp.

During Tuesday’s presentation, Apple CEO Tim Cook boasted that the company had attracted more new iPhone users than ever since last fall, without providing specific numbers. “We’re thrilled the new iPhone SE builds on that momentum,” Cook said.

Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives expects Apple to sell about 30 million new iPhone SE models over the next year, filling a need among less affluent consumers who own the iPhone SE. one of an estimated 225 million iPhones that are at least three and a half years old. .

Even if Apple doesn’t make as much money selling iPhone SEs as the more expensive models, it will still give the company more opportunities to sell subscriptions to music streaming, video streaming, games, and entertainment. other services that have become huge money makers. , said Tuong Nguyen, smartphone analyst for Gartner.

“It’s about expanding the ecosystem,” Nguyen said. “It’s always nice when Apple can get you to buy a new phone. But it’s even better when they can get you to subscribe all they can because it turns into recurring revenue.

Apple’s services division has grown into a booming business that generated $68 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year, up from $24 billion in 2016 – the first year after releasing its music streaming service. The company’s success in services has also turned into a regulatory minefield, sparking antitrust lawsuits and proposed legislation to loosen Apple’s exclusive control over its iPhone app store, which collects lucrative commissions on digital transactions processed on the device.

The iPhone itself remains Apple’s biggest goldmine, with sales of $192 billion in its last fiscal year, despite supply shortages that have curtailed production. Apple said in January that those issues were easing as the pandemic subsided and vendors began to catch up on backlogs.

Besides the new iPhone SE, Apple also used Tuesday’s showcase to announce that it had reached an agreement with Major League Baseball to start broadcasting two Friday night games each week on its video subscription after the sport resolved a labor dispute that has already delayed the start of his season. The deal marks the latest foray by a major tech company into a sports programming niche traditionally dominated by long-established television networks.

While adding baseball games may help Apple subscribe to its 2-year-old video service, the company initially plans to make them available for free to all viewers.

Apple also has a new desktop version of its personal computer called Mac Studio that will cost $2,000 to $4,000 for the processing unit. A 27-inch high-resolution display screen designed for the Mac Studio will cost an additional $1,600. The company has also rolled out the latest version of its lightweight tablet, the iPad Air, for $600. All of these computing devices will be powered by Apple’s internal chips.

Naomi C. Amerson