iPhone SE release date, price, specs and features: iPhone SE is attracting new iOS users, says Apple

Apple has announced a 4in iPhone, dubbed the iPhone SE.

Fans have been waiting for Apple to bring out a new 4in smartphone to match the form-factor of previous fan favourites such as the iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 models for around a year and a half.

The company upped the size of its handsets with the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, leaving many smaller-handed customers frustrated with the larger screen sizes.

It seems that Apple has listened to its users, however, and customers can now upgrade to a brand new, smaller iPhone.

iPhone SE: at a glance

  • Apple announces 4in iPhone at special event on 21 March
  • New model dubbed 'iPhone SE', standing for Special Edition
  • Powered by latest A9 and M9 processors
  • Features 12MP camera, 4K video recording, and always-on Siri
  • Starting price of 359, with 16GB and 64GB storage tiers
  • On sale in stores and online now

iPhone SE: Latest news

03/08/2016:The iPhone SE is saving Apple while sales of its flagship iPhone device fall, with executives saying the device is attracting new customers.

During a third quarter earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said: "Our initial sales data tells us the the iPhone SE is popular in both developed and emerging markets. The percentage of iPhone SE sales going to customers who are new to iPhone is greater than we've seen in the first weeks of availability for other iPhones launched in the last several years.

"We had a very successful global launch of iPhone SE and demand outstripped supply throughout the quarter," he continued. "We brought on additional capacity and we are able to achieve supply [and] demand balance as we enter the September quarter."

The device, a throwback to Apple's four-inch smartphones before the iPhone 6 increased their size, appears to be an important phone for bringing people into Apple's iOS ecosystem.

28/04/2016: Demand for the iPhone SE has been "very strong", and is exceeding Apple's expectations, the company's chief executive Tim Cook said in its second quarter earning call this week.

The four-inch iPhone which is composed of parts from iPhone 5s, 6 and 6s has been in short supply since its release last month, according to Apple.

Some reports claimed early sales had been lacklustre. Apple is still yet to give any official figures, but it currently lists the delivery time for new iPhone SEs at two to three weeks, indicating that the company isn't yet meeting demand for its slim handset.

"We're working hard to get the iPhone SE into the hands of every customer who wants one, as quickly as possible," said Cook during the call.

The iPhone SE is Apple's cheapest model in its iPhone line, costing 359 for the 16GB version.

Though demand may be high for its latest smartphone model, Apple reported its first ever decline in iPhone sales this quarter, and its forecast for the third quarter of 2016 is that that trend will persist.

27/04/2016:Despite posting disappointing revenues from its iPhone segment as a whole for the second quarter of 2016, Apple has claimed the iPhone SE is bucking the trend.

CEO Tim Cook said during an earnings call that demand for the device is "very strong" and higher than the company had expected.

Cook claimed that the SE puts Apple in a better position to attract new customers as it offers powerful internal specs at an affordable price, adding that the device is struggling to keep up with demand.

"We're thrilled with the response that we've seen on [the iPhone SE]. It is clear that there is a demand there even much beyond what we thought. That is really why we have the constraint that we have," said Cook.

12/04/2016: The iPhone SE may have a number of hardware issues as users complain of Bluetooth audio problems.

According to a report by MacRumours, not only are early adopters of the device reporting problems with the phone when paired to a vehicle or wireless headset, but there are also issues with GPS voice navigation.

Users reportdistorted, staticky, or inaudible phone calls when using an iPhone SE over Bluetooth. The Bluetooth problem affects all iPhone SE models running iOS 9.3 or 9.3.1,the publication said. Identical issues have been found with a number of car manufacturers too.

At present, it remains unknown whether the issue stems from hardware or software faults. Basic troubleshooting by users has yieldedno successful resolution of the issues encountered.

05/04/2016: The iPhone SE costs Apple just $160 (113) to manufacture, a report has revealed.

Consumer analyst firm IHS took apart Apple's new mid-tier smartphone and estimated the material and manufacturing cost of the device (see below), which retails starting from $399 (359) for the 16GB version.

The phone is comprised of an assortment of parts from previous models of the phone, including the iPhone 5s's casing, the same secondary camera and LTE reception as the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s's A9 processor.

Commenting on its breakdown, Andrew Rassweiler, senior director of cost benchmarking services at HIS, said: "Despite its physical resemblance to the iPhone 5s, the resulting product is far superior. In fact, the only significant trade-offs a consumer would make with the iPhone SE against the iPhone 6s is smaller size and lower screen resolution."

Despite this lower manufacturing cost, HS has estimated that Apple makes approximately $89 in incremental profit for each iPhone SE 64GB sold when compared with the iPhone SE 16GB.

31/03/2016:The iPhone SE goes on sale in the UK and worldwide today. Those who pre-ordered on 24 March will start to have their devices delivered to them in the morning (indeed, a number of people in Japan and New Zealand have already been posting pictures of theirs) and, once shops open, those who didn't will be able to stroll in and buy one in person (but expect crowds!). For more information on pricing, click here.

The first teardown of the iPhone SE has also appeared, courtesy ofChipworks. The website didn't find very much in the way of new technology, with most of it having come from the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, except a Texas Instruments 338S00170 power management IC, Skyworks SKY77611 power amplifier module, Toshiba THGBX5G7D2KLDXG NAND flash, APCOS D5255 antenna switch module and AAC Technologies 0DALM1 microphone.

30/03/2016: More pre-orders of the iPhone SE are being made by current Android phone users than iPhone owners, according to research carried out by Slice Intelligence.

"Only 35 per cent of iPhone SE buyers purchased an iPhone online in the past two years, and 16 per cent of them were previously Android users. By comparison, 49 per cent of iPhone 6s buyers upgraded from a previous iPhone, and 10 per cent replaced an Android device they bought online within the past two years," the report said.

Slice has suggested this could help grow its "maturing" (read "plateauing") iPhone customer base.

The research firm does also acknowledge, though, that this is very early data, so things could change once it arrives in shops tomorrow.

21/03/2016:Apple has launched a brand new 4in iPhone - the iPhone SE.

The long-awaited device was unveiled today, alongside new straps for the Apple Watch and a new 9.7in iPad Pro, at the company's Cupertino headquarters.

Bearing strong similarities to the iPhone 5s in terms of design, the main improvements arrive in the form of internal upgrades.

The iPhone SE is fitted with Apple's latest A9 and M9 mobile processors, and the company is claiming that the new model equals the performance of the iPhone 6s - one of the most powerful phones we've ever tested.

It's got the iPhone 6s' excellent 12MP iSight camera too, which brings TrueTone flash and 4K video recording.

The new model also sports a longer battery life, and 300 per cent greater GPU performance than the iPhone 5s, along with adding features like support for Apple Pay and always-on 'Hey Siri' functionality.

The device will be available to order from 24 March, and will arrive in stores on 31 March. Prices start from 359 for the 16GB model, rising to 439 for the 64GB model.

There's no middle ground this time; the company has abandoned the 32GB option completely.

21/03/2016:More than a third of iPhone users are still using a 4-inch device, according to research from data analytics company MixPanel.

The stats reveal that 36.67 per cent of active Apple devices are made up of 4-inch models of the iPhone, reports 9to5Mac, including the iPhone 5s (18.85 per cent), the iPhone 5c (4.98 per cent), the iPhone 5 (7.84 per cent), the iPhone 4S (3.86 per cent) and the iPhone 4 (1.51 per cent).

This bodes well for the rumoured release of Apple's smaller, cheaper iPhone SE, which marks a return from the company to the 4-inch size.

9to5Mac's own audience survey gleaned similar results, with 35.32 per cent of respondents saying they plan to upgrade to the new iPhone SE, 11.06 per cent from a larger iPhone.

Additionally, 12.25 per cent of 15,000 readers said they would upgrade as long as the 4-inch phone's specs were upgraded to match phones such as the iPhone 6 and 6s.

21/03/2016: Apple is expected to announce a smaller, cheaper iPhone at its press conference today, and analysts predict it could curb the recent decline in phone sales for the Cupertino company.

Expected to front a four-inch screen and be named iPhone SE, Apple's new phone will represent its second bid to court the mid-tier markets with a cheaper device.

Analysts have suggested that this new phone may give the pioneering tech company a much-needed boost in its bid for growth in the emerging markets of Indian, the Middle East, and Africa, Reuters reports.

"The iPhone SE provides a new incentive to upgrade for iPhone holdouts who don't want a large-screen phone," analyst Bob O'Donnell of TECHnalysis Research told Reuters.

He added that a less expensive iPhone may appeal to emerging markets customers, but is not a dependable hit, as it may still be pricier than competitors running Google's Android system, and many in larger screens are already taking off in emerging markets.

The return to a more compact four-inch screen comes after Apple's move towards larger screen sizes with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in 2014.

Ahead of Apple's announcement, technology research firm IDC has said it expects an uptick in sales of devices running Android this year, which it believes with account for almost 83 per cent of smartphones sold worldwide. It foresees iPhone sales falling slightly, making up 15 per cent of new sales.

Apple's previous attempt to gain ground in the mid-tier smartphone market was with the iPhone 5c in 2013. Sporting colourful plastic bodies, rather than the chic metal of its cousin, this model did not take off in emerging markets.

As is typical of the company, Apple has remained shtoom on any details about its coming conference. But you can find out what to expect from the conference here.

IT Pro will be the covering the event live today when it begins at 5pm GMT.

10/03/2016:The release date of the iPhone 5se could be imminent, according to IT Pro sources.

People familiar with the situation have told IT Pro that large enterprises are struggling to source bulk orders of the iPhone 5s from carriers including Vodafone.

SMBs making low-volume orders are apparently not affected, nor are individuals seeking to make single in-store purchases.

However, one source, who asked for his identity to remain secret, told IT Pro that the likely reason for the supply chain hold-up is that the iPhone 5se will launch within the next few weeks.

It is thought the iPhone 5se will replace the iPhone 5s when it is launched, with the rumoured debut of the device coming alongside the rumoured iPad Air 3 either next Tuesday, 15 March, or next Friday 18 March.

A separate source who wished to remain anonymous, but who has vast experience in bulk ordering devices for enterprise employees, confirmed to IT Pro thatsuch supply chain difficulties are a reliable indicator of the imminent launch of a new iPhone.

Vodafone and Apple both declined to comment.

iPhone SE:release date

The rumours were true - Apple's long-awaited 4in iPhone refresh came as part of a special event hosted at the company's Infinite Loop campus on 21 March.

Customers can order the device from 24 March, and the device will be available in-store from 31 March.

As expected,the iPhone 7didn't make an appearance. The new flagship iPhone is expected to debut in September.

Instead, the event centred around a smaller, 'Special Edition' iPhone. This new model will effectively act as a replacement to the iPhone 5s, which was previously the only 4in device left in the company's portfolio.

This was heavily predicted beforehand; the biggest clue, as IT Pro exclusively reported, is that bulk shipments of the iPhone 5s were faced with difficulties in the run-up to the event, with one explanation given as suppliers potentially running down stock ahead of the SE's launch.

iPhone SE: name

Previous rumours suggested the new phone would be dubbed the iPhone 5se, leaving the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus as a separate flagship line.

However, it now transpires that the company has foregone its existing brand hierarchy altogether, and simply christened it the 'iPhone SE'.

This brand will presumably exist separately from the existing release cadence of the iPhone range, updating every couple of years rather than annually.

iPhone SE: specs and features

Naturally, the iPhone SE's most notable feature is its 4in form-factor. However, that doesn't mean Apple's going to scrimp on quality, and the device is up to Apple's usual high standard.

As such, it includes the company's latest A9 and M9 processors. It touts the same performance as the iPhone 6s, and double the performance of the iPhone 5s, rising to 3 times as much in the case of GPU performance.

In terms of other features, the SE has NFC capabilities for Apple Pay, a Lightning port for charging and data transfer, and an always-on Siri voice assistant. It will be available with 16GB and 64GB of storage, ditching the 32GB allocation altogether.

It also packsin the 12MP camera from the iPhone 6s, which is one of the best smartphone cameras we've seen yet, and includes 4K recording capability.

iPhone SE: price

The iPhone SE costs 359 for the entry-level 16GB model. If you want the beefier 64GB version, you can expect to shell out 439.

There is no price variation by colour.

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.