There wasn't a crowd at the launch of the latest iPhone, and with all Apple stores outside China closed, customers won't be able to try it before they buy it. The new iPhone SE, the first low-cost phone the company has released since 2016, has the same name as its predecessor and costs just $399, compared to $699 for the iPhone 11 and at least $999 for the iPhone 11 Pro, CNBC reports. CNET describes the new phone as "essentially an iPhone 11 stuffed into the revamped body of an iPhone 8," which has a 4.7-inch screen. It has lower specs than the newest smartphones, but the same speedy A13 chip as iPhone 11s. Apple says preorders begin on Friday and sales will begin April 24.
The new phone is being released in a weak market, but its very release shows that Apple's supply chain in China "has returned to a place of some normalcy amid the global Covid-19 pandemic," Bloomberg notes. Shira Ovide at the New York Times, however, writes that consumers have been gradually losing their enthusiasm for new smartphones, with the average American now keeping theirs for at least three years, and "until economic conditions stabilize, our zing will probably be even less zingy than normal." She adds that "a smartphone is now a refrigerator. We need it, but we don’t replace our current model when a new ice-making feature comes out. This is not great for companies with shiny new phones to sell. For the rest of us, it's fine." Click for her full piece. (Or read about a new virus-tracing plan for smartphones.)