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Apple launches affordable iPhone SE, starting at $399

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The updated iPhone SE will start at $399, or less than half the price of its flagship devices. APPLE INC/AFP

Apple launches affordable iPhone SE, starting at $399

Apple Inc on Wednesday unveiled a new entry-level iPhone, aiming to appeal to consumers facing a suddenly bleak economic backdrop.

The updated iPhone SE will start at $399, or less than half the price of its flagship devices, and be available for order as of Friday on more than 40 markets.

Apple made the announcement in a statement, forgoing the normal splashy product launch events of the past few years.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who in the past hosted large media events, limited his comments to a tweet, calling the new handset “our most affordable iPhone”, and a “fantastic option in our line-up to help you stay connected, informed and entertained”.

The 4.7 inch display is bigger than the first-generation iPhone SE but smaller than the newest phones, yet offers high-definition graphics for rich visuals.

Apple trimmed costs by leaving out some of high-end features such as facial recognition, giving iPhone SE a fingerprint sensor and a home-screen button which fans will remember from previous generations. It features a single rear camera instead of the multiple lens in the newest iPhone 11.

The iPhone SE includes wireless charging and dual SIM cards, and come in black, red or white.

While the iPhone had been in the works for months, the launch comes amid a pandemic-induced economic slump which has hammered the smartphone market and hit consumer sentiment.

“It is incredibly fortuitous timing,” said Bob O’Donnell, analyst with Technalysis Research.

“This is the exactly the phone a large percentage of people will want. It’s hard to justify spending $1,200 on a smartphone in this economic climate, yet people still depend heavily on their phones and a lot of people want to upgrade.”

O’Donnell said the new device is also likely to appeal to consumers seeking a small-format handset, and in countries where consumers may have not been able to afford iPhones.

The move comes a week after South Korean colossus Samsung introduced new smartphones that included a model designed to work on much-hyped new-generation 5G mobile networks and priced less than $500.

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