Just as rumors had predicted, Apple rolled out smaller versions of its popular iPhone and iPad Pro devices Monday at its spring launch event.
Here are the highlights:
Apple’s most anticipated release was that of the iPhone SE, which essentially amounts to an upgraded version of its iPhone 5S.
Though similar to the 5S on the outside – apart from a new rose gold color option – the iPhone SE comes with the same A9 processor and M9 motion co-processor combination used in the iPhone 6S for improved performance. The device also comes with Apple’s 12 mp iSight camera, a retina flash on the front facing selfie camera and the ability to shoot 4K video and Live Photos. The phone will also allow owners to use the “Hey Siri” feature to ask the virtual assistant questions without pushing any buttons.
Apple said it has also improved the LTE specs in the phone, with the ability to support speeds of up to 150 mbps. The device also supports more LTE bands than before as well as Wi-Fi calling, Apple said.
One other notable improvement is the inclusion of Apple Pay capabilities in the device through the installation of a new NFC radio chip. The move to include mobile payment capabilities follows Apple’s launch of Apple Pay in China last month.
According to Apple, the release of the compact device came in response to demand for a smaller iPhone from both iPhone enthusiasts and first-time iPhone users who gravitate toward the more manageable size. Last year, Apple said, the company sold more than 30 million four-inch iPhones.
The new device will come in 16 GB and 64 GB models priced at $399 and $499, respectively. Apple is not offering a 128 GB version of the device as it did with the iPhone 6S.
The iPhone SE will be available for pre-orders starting Thursday and will ship on March 31.
Apple also unleashed a smaller version of its iPad Pro. A little over three inches smaller than its 12.9-inch predecessor, the new iPad Pro measures just 9.7 inches but comes packed with all the same features as the original.
The compact iPad Pro comes with a bright, anti-reflective display on the outside and Apple’s A9X chip and integrated M9 motion co-processor in its guts. The device will also come with the “Hey Siri” feature, and will include a new True Tone screen feature that measures the color temperature of ambient light and changes the display to match.
Like the original iPad Pro, the new 9.7-inch version will also include an enhanced audio system with four speakers, a 12 mp iSight rear camera, 5 mp Facetime HD camera with retina flash and the ability to shoot 4K video. Like the new iPhone SE, the smaller iPad Pro will come in a new rose gold color option alongside silver, gold and space grey.
Apple also revealed a newly scaled smart keyboard for the compact device, and is also offering a new line of SD Card and USB camera adaptors for the tablet. The device will support use with the Apple Pencil.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be offered in a 32 GB Wi-Fi-only model for $599, a 128 GB model for $749 and a new option with 256 GB of storage for $899. Apple said it will also add the 256 GB memory option to the original iPad Pro.
The devices will go up for pre-order on Thursday and will ship on March 31, Apple said.
Updates to the Apple Watch at this event were minor, with the company’s release of several new bands in various colors. Watch wearers can now get sport and leather bands in “all new colors,” and the company rolled out a new line of durable woven nylon bands.
The most exciting reveal related to the Apple Watch was a price drop to $299.
Apple TV also got a mini makeover on Monday, with the introduction of a software update that will bring a slew of new features and capabilities to the big screen. Included in the update are dictation capabilities, folders for the home screen, Siri search for the App Store and the ability to view your iCloud photo library through Apple TV.
The free update is available today.
With a hearing in federal court scheduled for tomorrow in its battle against the FBI, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook didn’t miss the opportunity to speak out on the privacy issues currently facing the tech industry.
“Apple didn’t expect to be at odds with our own government, but we have a responsibility to protect your data and privacy,” Cook said.
“We need to decide, as a nation, how much power the government should have over our data and our privacy,” he continued. “We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country. This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility.”