New iPhone SE: Apple launches its most affordable phone at Dh1,699

Consumers can order the device from Friday

Apple launched its cheapest iPhone, at Dh1,699, on Wednesday to attract budget-conscious buyers as it attempts to wrestle market share from rivals Samsung and Huawei.

The new phone is the second-generation iPhone SE. An initial model was launched in 2016 with a starting price of Dh1,466, but was discontinued in September 2018.

“The first iPhone SE was a hit with many customers who loved its unique combination of small size, high-end performance and affordable price,” said Phil Schiller, the company’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing.

“The second-generation iPhone SE builds on that great idea and improves on it in every way … including our best-ever single-camera system for great photos and videos, while still being very affordable.”

A cheaper offering may help Apple to compete with mid-range smartphones from rivals Samsung and Huawei and to meet its goal of 200 million shipments in 2020.

It is the first time that Apple, which typically unveils its phones in September each year, has launched a new phone without one of its showcase public events.

As the coronavirus outbreak restricts the movement of people globally, companies are becoming more innovative when launching products. Within the past month, tech giants including Huawei, Samsung and OnePlus have held virtual product launch events.

The new iPhone SE comes with a 11.9 centimetre screen and is powered by the Apple-designed A13 Bionic, which it says is the fastest chip available in a smartphone.

There are three variants of the phone, with storage capacities of 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. The device is available in three colours – black, white and red – and can be pre-ordered from Friday in more than 40 markets, including the UAE.

Propelled by the strong demand for its iPhone 11, launched in September, Apple sold 70.7 million devices in the three months to December, grabbing 19 per cent of global market share, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. It was followed closely by Samsung with an 18.4 per cent market share and China’s Huawei, which had a 15 per cent share.

However, manufacturing of new iPhones has reportedly been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Its new 5G-enabled iPhones, which are scheduled for a September launch, could face a delay due to supply chain disruption caused by the contagion, Bank of America analysts have said.

The company manufactures most of its iPhones and other devices in China, which is also Apple's second-biggest market in terms of sales after the US.

Travel restrictions have reportedly prevented Apple's engineers from visiting the country and completing final tests before the company can begin manufacturing 5G iPhones.

In February, Apple warned investors that supply constraints and falling demand in China will dent growth, making it unlikely to meet second quarter revenue targets.

In its earlier guidance for the three months to March 30, released on January 29, the Cupertino company projected revenue in the range of $63 billion (Dh231.21bn) to $67bn, a year-on-year rise of almost 15.5 per cent.