CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at Apple’s Cupertino campus to introduce a smaller, four-inch version of the iPhone, called the iPhone SE.
The key marketing words for Apple products have usually been thinner, faster, bigger. iPhones have grown up over the past nine years, going from the original 3.5-inch display to the iPhone 6S Plus’ 5.5-inch screen. Apple went in the opposite direction and announced a new iPhone that’s actually smaller.
Called the iPhone SE, the new smartphone is the same size as the three-year-old iPhone 5S. Externally it bears only minor design changes. Even though its design is retro, the phone’s internals are all modern and on par with the iPhone 6S: An A9 chip, better camera, and NFC for Apple Pay.
The iPhone SE starts at $399 or $17 per month over two years. It goes on sale March 31.
Why go small? Apple says it sold 30 million four-inch iPhones in 2015, so there’s clearly demand for a smaller, cheaper iPhone.
Apple Watch gets cheaper, more colorful
Apple really wants people to try out the Apple Watch. Tim Cook announced a new line of straps for the wearable, including all new woven nylon bands, a space black Milanese Loop, and additional sport and leather bands in a variety of colors.
Pretty watch straps on their own might not be enough to lure in new customers, so Apple dropped the price of the watch. It now starts at $299.
Before the iPhone SE and Watch announcements, Cook opened with what he admitted is “on everybody’s mind”: encryption.
“We built the iPhone for you our customers and we know that it is a deeply personal device,” said Cook. “For many of us the iPhone is an extension of ourselves.”
“We need to decide as a nation how much power the government should have over our data and over our privacy,” said Cook. “We will not shrink from this responsibility.”
On Tuesday, Apple will face off against the FBI in a California court.
Apple likes the environment
Apple brought out Lisa Jackson, its vice president of environment, to talk about a new, special Apple employee.
Liam is a custom robot that takes old iPhones apart to recycle them. While it disassembles them, it detects what components can be reused and recycled. It identifies materials in a device like gold, silver and tungsten. In the future, you might see a Liam robot doing its thing inside an Apple store.
Apple uses 100% renewable power in 25 countries including the US and China. In China, Apple even built a solar farm to accommodate adorable grazing yaks,
iPad Pro but smaller
Apple is also expected to announce a new iPad that will cram the power of the iPad Pro line in a smaller package. With a 9.7-inch display, the rumored iPad will look similar to the iPad Air line. But inside it will have the Pro’s speedier processor. It will be able to connect to Apple’s snap-on smart keyboards (expect a new smaller version of the keyboard just for this iPad). And stylus fans can rejoice, as the new iPad will work with the Apple Pencil.
And because tablet photography refuses to die, the iPad could include much improved cameras and a rear-facing LCD flash for better-lit awkward photos.