APPLE’s newly announced iPhone SE, successor to the iPhone 5s, will be launched in Singapore next Thursday, marking a renewed attempt at the mid-range market here.
Singapore will be one of the first 12 markets – including the United States, China and Japan – to start selling the 4-inch iPhone next week.
Apple is taking pre-orders from today at prices starting at $658 for the basic 16GB model. The 64GB model goes for $828. Neither comes with telco contracts.
The iPhone SE has the same basic design as the iPhone 5s, which was launched in September 2013, but sports the souped-up innards of the premium iPhone 6s launched last year.
For instance, the iPhone SE has the same processor, and 12-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front-facing camera as the iPhone 6s. It supports the Apple Pay e-wallet function, and is able to take ultra-high definition 4K videos and moving images called Live Photos.
It is smaller than the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch display sizes of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, respectively.
IDC Asia-Pacific research manager Kiranjeet Kaur said the new phone is Apple’s renewed attempt at penetrating the mid-range market, which it used to serve with the iPhone 5s.
“Apple stopped shipping the iPhone 5s to Singapore from the second quarter of last year,” she said, adding that the iPhone 5c, launched here in September 2013, was also unable to capture this segment as it was considered too expensive ($848 for a 16GB model) for its outdated features and design.
Clement Teo, a senior analyst at market research firm Forrester, said the new iPhone SE will attract only a small group of users here.
“Most people have embraced the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with enthusiasm,” he said.
Violin teacher Eileen Chai, 38, belongs to this group of users.
“A smaller phone is easier for me as I have small hands. It fits easily in my pocket too,” she said. She has been waiting for an upgrade to the iPhone 5s, which she is using now.
Another iPhone 5s user, Beatrice Tan, 24, said she wants a 32GB model, which Apple is not offering.
“I would upgrade to the iPhone SE but why is there no 32GB model?” asked the account executive.
Meanwhile, there is still demand for a used iPhone 5s in the second-hand market in Singapore.
Ian Tan, senior director for marketing at used-phones e-marketplace Andios, said demand is as high as that for a used iPhone 6.
Andios has seen several hundred used iPhones transacted since last November.
Around half are the iPhone 6 while the rest are a mix of iPhone 5 and 5s.
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