Your one stop guide to the Apple iPhone SE launch
There wasn’t a One More Thing this time. Not even something like the iPod Hi-Fi.
You didn’t watch the Apple event. You had stuff to do and anyway, who wants to hear Tim Cook say “amazing” and “magical” for two hours?
But there’s a problem: people will be talking about it tomorrow, so you need the facts. We’ve got ’em. Here’s everything you need to know about the iPhone SE event, from the hardware Apple unveiled to the bits that sent us to sleep.
Missing it was a smart move
Caring about privacy, the environment and health and stuff is all very important and very laudable, but while it’s great that Apple is making a stand against the FBI, moving to all-paper packaging, powering its Singapore operation with solar arrays on top of 800 buildings and making real progress with its medical research platform HealthKit, that information is not what you want to linger on when all you want to know is what the iPhone SE costs.
Fifteen minutes into the keynote and the only iPhone we’d seen was one that was being taken apart to become a drill bit.
There are some new Apple Watch bands. Woo!
“Now we’re going to talk about products,” Tim Cook said, 25 minutes in. And then he unveiled… NYLON APPLE WATCH STRAPS AND SOME NEW COLOURS! The crowd jumped to its feet and danced with joy, ecstatic at the innovation they were seeing on screen. Yes, we’re being sarcastic. More usefully, there was a price cut too: the Apple Watch is down to $299, a reduction of $50, but there wasn’t any mention of any next generation Watch. To be fair we didn’t expect to see the second generation Apple Watch tonight, so we weren’t disappointed. Bored, yes. But not disappointed.
The iPhone SE is small and (sort of) cheap
Apple shifts lots of four-inch iPhones even though they’re getting on a bit, so it’s made the iPhone SE to target those customers: people who don’t want ginormous screens with price tags to match, and the Chinese market where the four-incher is king.
It comes in white, black, gold and rose gold, looks very like the iPhone 5S, and it’s essentially an iPhone 6S in a smaller case.
It has the 12MP iSight camera, Live Photos, 4K video and faster 4G and Wi-Fi than the iPhone 5S, but it doesn’t have the 3D Touch pressure sensing of its bigger sibling, the basic storage is still just 16GB and the fact battery life wasn’t mentioned means it’ll be crap.
Prices start at $399/£359, which is cheap by iPhone standards.
There’s a new version of iOS too
iOS 9.3’s headline new feature is called Night Shift, and it automatically changes the colour balance to make your screen more yellowish at night.
The theory behind it is that the bluer light of normal phone screens plays merry hell with your sleep, so moving to a warmer colour balance at night should make it easier to fall asleep.
Or you could just watch a recording of tonight’s keynote. iOS also gets password protected Notes, app suggestions inside the Health app, some tweaks to Apple News and some improvements for education and CarPlay. It’s out now.
The new iPad is called the New iPad Pro
The latest iPad is the same size as an iPad Air, but it’s an iPad Pro like Apple’s giant tablet.
It has clearly been designed with business users in mind – carrying the big iPad Pro is like carrying a desk around – and Windows PC switchers: Apple calls it “the ultimate PC replacement”. It has a Smart Keyboard like its bigger sibling that turns it into a laptop, and it supports the Apple Pencil too.
That’s good news for artists, designers, architects and anybody who fancies a bit of digital doodling. It also gets the same camera specs as the iPhone SE, which is terrible news for anybody stuck behind iPad Pro owners at gigs. Prices are $599 for 32GB, rising to $899 for 256GB. It’s powerful, but pricey.
There’s a genuinely innovative new feature in the new iPad Pro. Apple calls it a True Tone display, and it uses twin sensors to detect the colour temperature of the lighting – so direct sunlight has a different tone to LED lighting, or the lighting in your home.
The iPad Pro detects this and adjusts the screen colours accordingly, making the screen behave more like a piece of paper. A $599 piece of paper, yes, but the creative types are going to go mad for it.
There wasn’t a One More Thing
Apple fans’ favourite bit of Apple events is the end, because that’s when Steve Jobs used to do his famous “There’s one more thing” big reveal.
That was when the real star of the show would be revealed – and at this event the One More Thing was, er, nothing. No speed-bumped MacBook Pros or MacBooks with a couple of spare expansion ports. No iPad socks.
The event petered out after a bit about Apple’s new office building, which was as fascinating as a bit about anybody’s new office building can be.
We didn’t even get Jonathan Ive broadcasting from the white room Apple keeps him locked inside. Predictions of Apple’s doom after the passing of Steve Jobs may have been hilariously wrong, but boy do we miss his showmanship.
It wasn’t the worst keynote ever
We tend to associate Apple keynotes with big product reveals – the iPod! The iPhone! The iPad! – but many past Apple events were even duller than this one, which at least did have some high-end products to talk about.
If you were following Apple back in 2006, its spring event unveiled slightly tweaked Mac Minis, the ill-fated iPod Hi-Fi and some iPod cases. And that was it. Never mind “boom!” That wasn’t even “part!”
This time we got a new iPhone and new iPad in the middle of the cycle for both of those devices – we know that September is going to yield a new iPhone 7, and probably a refresh to the Apple Watch (cunningly named the Apple Watch 2) and probably a new version of the iPad Pro.
So given that will be the ‘big’ event, seeing this much hardware in March is something we wouldn’t normally expect.