iPhone SE set to fuel global 5G device expansion

New mid-range 5G device in flagship range projected to spur adoption of next-generation network services in developed and emerging markets alike

Apple has described the new iPhone SE as a “powerful smartphone in an iconic design”, but the launch may also address one of the key gating factors standing in the way of 5G becoming profuse – device affordability.

According to data and analytics company GlobalData, the 5G iPhone SE will increase 5G adoption and help drive iPhones into emerging markets, also addressing a dynamic in advanced markets where 5G coverage has improved over the last year but the take-up of 5G services is still relatively low.

Looking at its basic technical capability, the cheapest model in the iPhone family is based on the latest A15 Bionic chip, 5G connectivity, improved battery life and what is is said to be improved durability.

Built for efficiency, the A15 Bionic chip – introduced with the iPhone 13 – comes to the iPhone SE and is said to make nearly every experience better, from launching apps to handling demanding tasks. The A15 Bionic has a six-core CPU, claimed to be the fastest CPU in a smartphone, with two high-performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, making the iPhone SE up to 1.8x faster than the iPhone 8, and even faster compared with older models.

The 16-core Neural Engine is capable of 15.8 trillion operations per second, enabling faster machine learning computations and making it “ideal” for applications such as generating augmented reality experiences.

Looking at connectivity options, Apple said that with iOS 15, SharePlay on 5G unlocks powerful shared experiences such as watching high-quality video while on a FaceTime call, with Smart Data mode allowing users to conserve battery life intelligently by automatically shifting the iPhone to LTE when 5G speeds are not needed.

Yet perhaps the key to the device is that this functionality comes at affordable prices. It will be available initially in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the US and UK, with prices in the UK starting at £415.

Anisha Bhatia, senior technology analyst at GlobalData, said the availability of affordable handsets will be key to driving adoption, particularly considering strong economic headwinds caused by Covid-19 affecting consumer income.

“GlobalData expects mobile 5G services to generate $644.6bn by 2026, equivalent to 64% of total mobile service revenue worldwide,” she said. “iPhone users lack any affordable 5G phones compared with the varied choices available for Android users, so a mid-range 5G iPhone will be a welcome boost for both operators and users.

“The iPhone SE includes Apple’s premium A15 Bionic chip, which will provide a huge performance boost over the 2020 iPhone SE and iPhone 8 that the 5G SE is targeting. The phone also comes with improved durability and retains the SE’s popular compact Retina display. 

“At $429, the price for the base iPhone SE 5G is slightly more expensive than the 2020 iPhone SE, as well as phones from rivals Samsung and Xiaomi. But Apple has a huge installed base of legacy iPhone users still waiting to upgrade.  With carrier promotions and discounts, the iPhone SE 5G is all set to carry on Apple’s 5G super-cycle.”

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