The evidence is building that Apple is preparing to launch a new iPhone in March. From reports of the initial production starting, through analyst reports, to supplier Foxconn noting that the Coronavirus outbreak will not impact on any shipments, the world is ready for the successor to the iPhone SE.
Yet the presumptively-named iPhone 9 is going to be the biggest departure for Tim Cook’s Apple in many years. Why is the smallest iPhone in the portfolio going to be the biggest iPhone around?
The device is expected to use the form factor of the iPhone 8 (which itself harkens back to 2014’s iPhone 6 design), but the internals will broadly match that of the iPhone 11.While it is not the 4 inch screen that the iPhone SE shipped with, the 4.7 inch screen of the 2014 design will be welcomed by many that are looking fora ‘small’ smartphone that delivers flagship performance.
Apple has experienced this build up of demand for a different sized iPhone in the past. The launch of the iPhone 6 Plus was Apple’s first pass at a larger ‘phablet’ styled smartphone saw a spike in iPhone sales, that was not repeated with the iPhone 6S Plus. The initial demand was sated, but the larger format stayed in the portfolio.
The demand for a smaller iPhone has been building for some time. With the iPhone SE cancelled in 2018, the geekerati have been looking for a replacement. If Tim Cook and his team can pitch a refreshed iPhone 8 as a refreshed iPhone SE, then the smaller phone should create a similar spike in sales.
There is also the matter of price. With a relatively lower price than the iPhone 6 Plus compared to the rest of the range at launch, I think the demand will be much higher. Apple has pushed iPhone prices under $500 on its website before, but this has always been caveated with the need to trade in an older iPhone. The iPhone 9 is going to be, genuinely, under $500.
Finally, Tim Cook’s strategy to move Apple towards a software and services still needs a wide user base to accomplish – the iPhone business still represents the lion’s share of Apple’s revenue. The inclusion of a cheaper, smaller, and popular iPhone SE will not only boost iPhone sales for 2020, but also boost the user-base for Apple’s subscription base, advancing Cook’s plan.
The demand for a smaller smartphone; the need for an iPhone that is a genuine mid-range competitor without trade-in discounts; and a further step towards Apple’s chosen destination. Add all of those together and you have a handset that is going to be incredibly popular… and I expect the first units on sale to sell out when it first goes on sale, cementing its status as a desirable but affordable smartphone.
Now read why the iPhone 9 needs to sell well not just in America, but in India and China…