Apple Inc. (AAPL) just wrapped up its “Let Us Loop You in” event, and as expected, the company took the wraps off a brand new iPhone — the 4-inch iPhone SE.
Besides the new iPhone, Apple also is releasing a new, smaller iPad Pro –effectively replacing the iPad Air in its tablet lineup — and new Apple Watch band options. The company also announced key software updates for iOS, watchOS and tvOS, boosting the capabilities of its mobile devices, the Apple Watch and the Apple TV.
Before getting to the good stuff, CEO Tim Cook took the time to make a couple of quick notes, including …
- Apple celebrates its 40th birthday on April 1
- The company currently boasts more than 1 billion active devices.
- He also took the opportunity to pitch Apple’s stance on iPhone privacy versus the FBI.
- Apple’s environmental credibility was also pushed, as it closes on the goal of having all AAPL facilities running on 100% on renewable energy, with recycling of old iPhones ramping up.
- Apple Health also got a shout out, with ResearchKit’s contribution to various national health studies shown off in a film clip featuring medical professionals and researchers.
But the headliner was the new, smaller iPhone SE. Here are the details of that, as well as the other products AAPL announced and provided new details on:
As expected, Apple introduced a new iPhone. The iPhone SE fills an important niche for AAPL, targeting consumers who prefer a smaller screen, or have budget constraints.
The company sold more than 30 million 4-inch iPhones in 2015, but the iPhone 5s is old. The new iPhone SE, however, combines a 4-inch display with current hardware. The look is the iPhone 5s with nods to the iPhone 6s, offering the iPhone flagship’s processor in a smaller package.
The iPhone SE supports “Hey Siri,” offers the latest 12-MP iSight Camera and even comes in a Rose Gold option. It supports Apple Pay, but not 3D Touch.
The price starts at $399, giving Apple a true mid-range phone (64GB goes to $399).
Pre-orders start March 24 with shipping on March 31.
With rival Samsung (SSNLF) launching its new Galaxy S7, it also doesn’t hurt that Apple takes some of the media spotlight with the new iPhone SE.
9.7-inch iPad Pro Replaces iPad Air
With iPad sales continuing on a downward spiral, it was time to think different. So Apple decided to stop relying on fickle consumers — who have proven reluctant to regularly update their tablets — and instead go after the professional, business and prosumer market with its latest new iPad.
It was pointed out that many iPad Pro users came over from Windows. With over 600 million PCs that are over 5 years old, the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is being positioned as the affordable way to get into a modern convertible laptop device.
Apple is calling it “the ultimate PC replacement.”
The new iPad Pro offers the advanced features of the original, including Apple Pencil support, the A9X CPU, premium Oxide TFT display and Pro accessories including a Smart Keyboard and SD card reader in a smaller, more affordable package.
However, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is more expensive than the iPad Air, starting at $599 (with 32GB of storage). A 256GB version is available for $899.
AAPL starts taking pre-order for the iPad Pro on March 24, with shipments starting March 31; the iPad Air 2 will remain in the lineup for now as a more affordable option (with its price dropped to $399) for consumers who want something larger than the iPad Mini.
While there was a chance that AAPL would release a followup to its Apple Watch smartwatch, that was always a long shot. It has been a year since the original was released, but bets are consumers won’t be on board with yearly upgrades.
However, the company did take the opportunity of using today’s Apple event to refresh the Apple Watch lineup through the release of new Band options: woven nylon, new Sport and Leather color options, and a new Space Black Milanese Loop Band.
And, perhaps most notably, AAPL dropped the Apple Watch starting price to $299.
Today’s Apple event also saw several important software updates announced.
- CareKit is a new tie-in to Apple Health that makes it easier for developers to create apps that focus on caring for health issues, letting patients be more involved in their own care, using their iPhone.
- tvOS is getting an update today with enhanced Siri functionality, making it easier to search and enter text on the Apple TV.
- Also getting an update is iOS. The new iOS 9.3 –which is now available– includes features like Night Shift (to combat night-time eyestrain and sleep issues), a new Education feature preview, improved Maps and CarPlay.
Want to learn more about the new iPhone SE? Look for in-depth coverage of this key Apple device to be posted shortly on InvestorPlace.com.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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- iPhone 6S Review: Apple’s Best, But Not Perfect
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