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25AnswersTo'What Does The SE Mean In The New iPhone SE?'

Forbes logo Forbes 28-03-2016 Ewan Spence, Contributor

Last week’s reveal of the iPhone SE has started many conversations, but one of them is a simple question of the visible unknown. What does ‘SE’ stand for? Let’s take a closer look at the iPhone SE, what it can do, where it is positioned, and what it means to Apple, all through the lens of the letters ‘S’ and ‘E’

Here are twenty-five explanations of what the SE in the iPhone SE name could stand for. I’ll even promise you a definitive answer if you read to the end.

A set of iPhone SE handsets are seen on display (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)© Provided by Forbes A set of iPhone SE handsets are seen on display (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Similar Expectations.
Look at the iPhone SE and you see an iPhone 5S. Everything about the design screams ‘we’ve not updated the design’ and that means the iPhone SE is one of the most approachable smartphones that Apple has released in many years.

2. Same Engineering.
What the iPhone SE does offer users is a similar level of performance to the iPhone 6S. With the A9 and M9 chips, the smartphone allows the lowest device on Apple’s iPhone portfolio to match the same hardware specs of the flagship devices – which will help make updates to iOS far smoother in the past.

3. Sports Edition.
The inclusion of the M9 motion co-processor is an important one. As Apple pushes towards more health and fitness tracking, the efficiency of the M9 chip to record data while the iPhone SE is in a pocket will allow it to offer more personalised data and become an effective tool, as personal wellness becomes a more visible selling point.

4. Smaller Electroluminescence.
The screen on the iPhone SE is smaller, both physically (at four inches) and by pixel count (with a smaller resolution). That reduces the size of the memory required to run the screen, and the backlight in the LCD construction. If you’re wondering why Apple can count on significantly more battery life on the SE, this is why.

5. Sensible Edges.
In a way I am glad that Apple stayed with the iPhone 5S design language. The sharp edges of the SE are easier to hold than the curved edges of the iPhone 6 family – the latter still slips easily out of my hand, while the former creates enough friction and purchase to be far more stable, especially in one-handed use.

6. Superfast Execution.
Putting the iPhone SE next to a similarly styled iPhone 5S and ask them to do the same job. The extra speed on the SE will become apparent. The SE has pretty much Osbourned the iPhone 5S, and I hope Apple has reduced the inventory of 5S handsets in the supply channel!

Although the camera on the back of the iPhone SE has been improved, the forward-facing selfie camera retains the same specification as the iPhone 5S. Assuming that the SE is going to be targeted lower down the market and skew towards a younger audience – which makes far more use of the selfie cam – this seems a curious corner to cut to keep the cost down.

8. Slower Execution.
Along with the older camera, the iPhone SE retains the first generation TouchID sensor. This still offers fingerprint recognition, but it’s noticeably slower than the sensor used in the latest 6S and 6S Plus handsets.

9. Stronger Encryption.
One consequence of jumping up to the A9 chip is that the iPhone SE picks up some extra security in the device, notably through the secure area of the motherboard. This offers the lower-tiered device the same security as the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, and significantly more than the iPhone 5C currently held by the FBI in the San Bernardino case. And yes, this SE could also be secure enclave.

10. Safer E-Commerce.
Although 5S users could us Apple Pay after a fashion, they had to rely on the Apple Watch for the actual ‘tap and pay’ part of the solution. With Apple driving its payment system forward, the iPhone SE will be able to use tap and pay standalone – something that the iPhone 5S could never manage.

11. Supported Expansion.
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus handsets are likely going to receive iOS updates for at least three years, and are probably good to iOS 12. It’s unlikely that the hardware in the iPhone 5S would remain capable for that length of time, so its removal from the portfolio, to be replaced by a handset that can support the next three versions of IOS offers a longevity that is rarely achieved this far down the portfolio.

12. Still Entrenched.

It should be obvious, but by offering a handset that is both a sensible upgrade to those looking for a small phone and providing one of the cheapest new iPhones for many years (especially when you consider the specifications used), the iPhone SE will be seen as a must-have upgrade for many users who could have been looking at a switch to Android through a suitably priced small phone. That will keep these users inside Apple’s ecosystem, monetizing them through the iCloud services, Apple Music, and the App Store.

Apple Vice President of Product Marketing Gregory Joswiak introduces the new iPhone SE (Image: Josh Edelson /AFP/Getty Images).© Provided by Forbes Apple Vice President of Product Marketing Gregory Joswiak introduces the new iPhone SE (Image: Josh Edelson /AFP/Getty Images).

13. Smooth Elevation.
Apple users currently using four-inch iPhones now have a natural upgrade path. While there was a rush to buy the larger 4.7 and 5.5 inch iPhones, there has been a significant number of users who have stayed with the smaller handsets. Apple now has a chance to reach them and upgrade them for 2016, not only locking them into iOS (as above) but increasing Apple’s turnover by having them buy a new handset.

14. Starting Early.
The iPhone SE is going to be a popular handset to get other family members into a smartphone world. I would expect the SE to be the go-to handset for teenagers, relatives looking to stay in touch with more connected family members, and perhaps even as a tween’s first smartphone. Match up the handset with the iCloud Family account for parental management and you have an easy on-ramp… That leads them into Apple’s ecosystem.

15. Still Expensive.
What the iPhone SE has not done is significantly cut the price of the iPhone, or damaged the idea that it is a luxury brand. It may be cheaper, but it is smaller, and seen as a bit of a throwback. Consumers can see the sacrifice that they will have to make to get this cheaper iPhone. The balance between preserving the brand and pushing down the price has been achieved.

16. September’s Exception.
Apple may be one of the most profitable technology companies, but it is also one of the most predictable. New iPhones arrive in September. This is going to continue this year with the presumptively titled iPhone 7. The iPhone SE, coming out of season, is an exception. It should help strengthen the sales figures for the iPhone in Q2 and potentially into Q3, which have been slower periods for Apple in previous years.

17. Social Engineering.
If there’s one thing that retailers like to sell, it’s a new phone. The iPhone SE may sport an almost four-year old design, it may be outfitted with the internals from last year’s flagship, but to all intents and purposes it is a ‘new’ machine. It can be marketed as such, and that should offer far more benefit to retailers than a cheaper but older iPhone 5S.

18. Seldom Empty.
Something else retailers like is the up sell. Although the 16 GB iPhone SE comes in at an attractive $399, once you take out some space for iOS, HD video recording, music, apps, and some data you’re pretty much out of storage. Most people are going to worry about that, and instinctively jump for the 64 GB version. 48 GB of storage for an extra $100 is a decent mark-up by any measure.

Apple Vice President of Product Marketing Gregory Joswiak introduces the new iPhone SE (Image: Josh Edelson /AFP/Getty Images)© Provided by Forbes Apple Vice President of Product Marketing Gregory Joswiak introduces the new iPhone SE (Image: Josh Edelson /AFP/Getty Images)

19. Sensible Explanation.
Just under a week later, and the iPhone SE has jumped over the biggest hurdle that was already in place. Apple’s PR team had to ensure that the SE was seen as a new phone and forward progress for Apple, as opposed to an attempt at a cheap plastic phone. That was the flaw with the iPhone 5C, but from the initial reports, it feels like mission accomplished.

20. Samsung’s Enemy.
Although the recent launch of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will help Samsung’s sales and revenue over the next year, the South Korean company is increasingly reliant on selling more mid-range devices with lower margins (such as the Galaxy A9) to keep revenue high. That’s the same market that the iPhone SE is about to disrupt while the 6S and 6S Plus squeeze the top end of Samsung’s Galaxy portfolio.

21. Solid Execution.
For all of the talk around a new iPhone, the goal was clear, the handset was easy to pitch, and everyone understood what the SE was all about when it was launched. Apple did exactly what was required to update the lowest reaches of the iPhone stack.

22. Slightly Entertaining.
The iPhone SE is a phone designed to fill in a gap in Apple’s portfolio. It offers something at the lower run of the portfolio, it keeps it as current as possible in terms of recent specification, and it doesn’t go overboard to present anything new. Which is nice, but not stunning. Apple has a reputation of delivering more than that, and the iPhone SE’s launch failed to blow away anyone’s socks.

23. Something Exciting.
Even though it can be seen as fitting in an SE sized gap, there’s always a certain level of excitement around a new Apple product, and the SE is no exception. The presentation on Monday made the best of a pretty average hand of smartphone cards and they were all played well (let’s ignore the slip in the iPad script) and caught the imagination of many. The SE was given as good a launch pad as possible.

24. Special Edition.
Let’s be honest, this is the actual option for what the SE stands for. It fits well, there is precedent in many industries, and it’s as obvious as the ‘i’ standing for internet in Apple’s connected products.

25. Schiller Explains.
Actually it’s not this one. It is definitely ‘Special Edition,’ as Phil Schiller explained.

Photos: Which one is best? iPhone SE or IPhone 6?

Apple iPhone SE at Rs 39,000 or iPhone 6 at Rs 34,000: Which one is the best for you?: iPhone SE will hit the stores in India on April 8. The all new 4-inch Apple smartphone looks just like iPhone 5S, which was announced in 2012. While the iPhone SE merges the design of iPhone 5 with the hardware prowess of latest iPhone 6s, it is still a small smartphone that many might not prefer. For prospective Apple buyers, the new iPhone SE might pose a dilemma, especially as the iPhone 6 has gotten a price-cut in India. So what should you pick? The iPhone 6, which has a bigger screen and is retailing for close to Rs 35,000 (for the 16GB version) or the smaller iPhone SE? Here's our comparison based on specs, price and features. Read more here Apple iPhone SE at Rs 39,000 or iPhone 6 at Rs 34,000: Which one is the best for you?

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