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Apr 15, 2020

Apple launches new cheap iPhone to boost sales ahead of 5G model

A employee wearing a protective mask is silhouetted while standing in front of an Apple Inc. logo at the company's store, temporarily closed due to the coronavirus, in the Ginza area of Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, March 15, 2020.

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Apple Inc. unveiled the new iPhone SE, its first low-cost smartphone in four years, seeking to boost sales while consumers wait for the launch of new high-end models with 5G later this year.

The technology giant’s new iPhone costs US$399, several hundred dollars cheaper than the flagship iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro lines. To get to the lower cost, Apple is using an iPhone 8 design that debuted in 2017 along with less advanced cameras, a smaller display and a Touch ID fingerprint scanner instead of facial recognition.

The new model comes in black, white or red with storage options ranging from 64GB to 256GB, Cupertino, California-based Apple said on Wednesday. While many of the device’s specifications have been surpassed by newer technology at this point, the iPhone SE does use the same A13 processor as the latest flagship iPhone. It can be pre-ordered starting April 17 and available on April 24, Apple said.

Apple is recycling the iPhone SE name, which was introduced in 2016 with a well-received compact device based on the design of the iPhone 5S from 2013. The 2020 iPhone SE is again smaller than the company’s flagships, with a 4.7-inch LCD screen, making it drastically smaller than the 6.1-inch iPhone 11. The SE does have essential modern features like Apple Pay and the latest iOS 13 operating system.

The launch of the new iPhone SE shows that Apple’s supply chain in China has returned to a place of some normalcy amid the global Covid-19 pandemic. In March, Apple started selling two new Mac personal computers and an updated iPad Pro.

The new, more budget-friendly iPhone should appeal to users looking for a more pocket-sized iOS device or fingerprint authentication in a time when face masks are making Face ID inconvenient. It also could serve as something to tide users over until Apple introduces revamped flagship iPhones later this year with faster 5G networking and a rear-facing 3-D camera for improved augmented-reality applications.

The company also said the new iPad Pro Magic Keyboard will go on sale Wednesday and will be shipped next week. Apple also discontinued the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Its line is now the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone XR and iPhone SE.