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The Apple Blog: Will there be a cheaper iPhone? Well, let’s not bet on it


Written by Nandagopal Rajan
| New Delhi |

Published: January 26, 2020 12:49:48 pm

The Apple blog Soon after the iPhone SE launch in March 2016. (Express photo by Nandagopal Rajan)

As soon as Apple launches an iPhone, speculation starts for what the next version will be like. There are leaks and rumours, often wishful thinking than based on insight. But of late these leaks are coming closer to what Apple ends up launching months later.

But having written about the brand for over a decade now, I would not hazard a guess even now. Over the years, I have seen so many of these come to naught that I wouldn’t want to indulge in the same game of chance.

Since the start of the new year, the Apple rumour mills have been spinning yarns about a cheaper iPhone, most probably the successor to the iPhone SE, the more affordable phone Apple offered first in 2016. Despite the popularity of the model, Apple did not offer a sequel. For the past year or so, for some reason, there’s be a lot of buzz around a new version. But it was not launched at the iPhone event in September.

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Anyway, this was initially launched in March, a clear indication that this was different from the pack of the iPhones. So if there is such a successor, it could well come up in March again.

But is there such a successor? I am not really sure about this, though there is a more than valid reason for Apple to explore this path again. In fact, Apple has done very well with then affordable iPhone XR model it launched last year. It is a good phone with all the features iPhone users are looking out for. But more importantly it does not compromise on processing power. The XR was Apple’s most successful phone last year and it prompted the company to make the iPhone 11 more affordable, especially in markets like India.

The Apple blog Phil Schiller launches the iPhone SE at Apple’s Infinite Loop campus in March 2016. (Express photo by Nandagopal Rajan)

In fact, latest reports show that in India, Apple has been able grow thanks to these two phones, in fact get over what was turning out to be a slump. But the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 are still expensive phones for a market like India. Yes, the iPhone XR has after a price cut been able to cut into OnePlus’s numbers a bit, but it does not have the might to get more market share, given it is already a year old.

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This is where a new, more affordable iPhone can help. If at all Apple launches such a phone, with latest specifications, then it can help in two ways. Firstly, it will offer a new Apple phone in the Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 segment where Indian buyers have to suffice with older models from the company. Then, if it is again a seller 4.7-inch screen, it can offer an option for those who still want just a small display device that fits easily in their palms. The iPhone XR, still priced above Rs 40,000 even with discounts, is unable to cater to either of these demand points.

So there is sound logic in bringing a more affordable device, especially to cater to a growth market like India. But we know by now that Apple will not launch a geography specific device and if such a phone comes it will be a global launch. Such a phone can hence help Apple in a range of markets.

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Now, there is one thing I am not convinced about: the iPhone 9 name some are giving this phone. If this is indeed going to be called the iPhone 9, then I would be surprised if it is launched in March and not as part of the September event. As with anything Apple, let’s just wait and watch.

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Updated: January 26, 2020 — 7:31 am

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