Apple is a company which, though not always predictable, is often highly consistent.
So, yesterday’s leak that the current iPhone X and iPhone SE are about to be canned came as a surprise. Gordon Kelly wrote about this here on Forbes.
Gordon was also the first to predict the iPhone X will be canceled this fall, about which more in a moment.
But the real surprise was the dropping of the iPhone SE.
But MacRumors has now updated its report and, guess what, Kelly was all over this change, too.
The initial information had come from an analysts’ report from BlueFin Research, and which itself had been picked up by Barron’s.
However, while the original coverage suggested that the iPhone SE, the only iPhone with a 4-inch display left in Apple’s portfolio, would be discontinued in the coming months, this has now been corrected.
BlueFin Research has told MacRumors that Barron’s had misinterpreted the report and in fact it was the rumored iPhone SE 2 which it was talking about, suggesting that Apple won’t now produce the fabled second-generation version of the 4-inch iPhone, claimed to be a model with Face ID built in.
Well, that makes a lot more sense. Many people, myself included, really doubted that such a phone was ever more than a wild musing. The point of the SE is not just that it is compact, but that it is more affordable than most iPhones.
It was, when it launched, a powerful handset, thanks to a processor as potent as its bigger-screened siblings, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. But it lacked other upgrades that had appeared on the 6s such as 3D Touch or a second-generation Touch ID sensor.
And that’s the point: Apple kept costs down by not putting the latest components, of which Face ID is certainly one, in the SE. To imagine an SE2 with this capability seemed nuts to me.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the iPhone SE will stay in the range for ever. But at least it seems to be safe for now.
Apple behaving consistently, then.
And I’d say there’s also precedent for the other part of the BlueFin Research note, that the iPhone X might be discontinued this year.
When I talked to Apple exec Phil Schiller before the release of the iPhone X he was clear: “The iPhone 8 is the next generation of what we’ve been making with iPhone 7, taking a lot of new technologies like a better chip, sound system, better cameras. For what you’re used to with iPhone 7, iPhone 8 is the next, better version. Then, iPhone X is something just entirely different. We’ve added something at the top of the line that is unlike any iPhone before it.”
In other words, Apple was encouraging us to see the iPhone X as something separate from the regular sequence.
Well, there’s also a recognizable pattern for this development.
When Apple released the colorful iPhone 5c in September 2013 it was another thing altogether from the iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5c came in 16GB and 32GB storage versions and were discontinued exactly a year later.
They were replaced by an 8GB model which was lower-priced and which, by the bye, saw a huge increase in the 5c’s popularity.
But to do the same with the iPhone X seems just inconceivable. The iPhone X is the most premium iPhone ever and to try and make it less premium doesn’t quite make sense.
Much better, surely, to introduce a wholly different iPhone with Face ID but which is more affordable than the iPhone X, though not as keenly priced as the iPhone SE. It could have an aluminum frame, say, instead of shiny stainless steel. Or an LCD screen instead of pricier OLED. That’s more expensive in terms of R&D for Apple, for sure, but if it’s the first of a series of mid-priced iPhones with Face ID it’s better in the long run, right?
We’re getting nearer to the time when all will be revealed, but I’d say we should expect Apple to behave consistently.
Though probably not predictably.
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