Apple’s iPhone SE Faces Its Biggest Threat


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With the launch of the iPhone SE, Apple knew it would have a hit on its hands. The diminutive SE matched the power of the iPhone 11 family with the A13 bionic chip, packed into a smaller device at a competitive price. That combination kept overall iPhone sales high as the coronavirus pandemic closed in on the world.

The iPhone SE’s marketing was built around matching performance. There’s very little performance difference here between the SE and the entry-level ‘regular’ iPhone. That’s about to change, as Tim Cook grabs the target market away from the iPhone SE.

When the first iPhone SE was launched in 2016, it was a clear extension of the 2015 generation of handsets, namely the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Although it was running the same chipset as the flagship handsets (namely Apple’s A9), it was packaged in design of the previous iteration of iPhone, that of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S.

When it launched just six months after the 6S and 6S Plus, it matched their specs at a lower price, putting a lot of pressure on the iPhone 6 thanks to its lower price and a focus on it carrying the same power and potential as the other current handsets.

And the iPhone SE was a bit of a success.

The arrival of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus saw the September smartphones pull ahead of the iPhone SE, with the key component being the next-generation system on chip, the Apple A10 Fusion. With no major update to the SE in the following year, the budget handset made do with a bump in storage capacity. The iPhone SE retained the same core specs until it was discontinued in September 2018.

Which is where Apple finds itself now.

Following the iPhone 11 launch in September 2019, the second-generation iPhone SE followed six months later. It matched the specs at a lower price, and put a lot of pressure on the iPhone 11 thanks to its lower price and a focus on it…