Apple Inc introduced 5G versions of its low-end iPhone SE and iPad Air tablet, as well as a redesigned Mac desktop computer and faster processor, kicking off what’s likely to be its most prolific year yet for new product releases.
Apple unveiled the devices during a virtual event on March 8 that it called “Peek performance”, looking to keep up its momentum following a record-setting holiday quarter that exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. Chief executive officer Tim Cook also announced plans to bring Major League Baseball games to the company’s TV+ streaming service.
The presentation included a new Apple processor named M1 Ultra that the company called the most powerful personal-computer chip ever. The product is part of Apple’s yearslong shift away from using Intel Corp processors in favour of its own components.
The new desktop computer, called the Mac Studio, features the M1 Ultra chip and is aimed at app developers, photo editors and video creators, with pricing starting at RM8,799. Apple also unveiled a separate 27in monitor called Studio Display that is far cheaper than the current model, coming in at US$1,599 (RM6,687) in the US and starting at RM6,999 in Malaysia.
There were few major surprises at the event, and the shares slipped less than 1% to US$158 (RM660) after it concluded. They have fallen about 10% this year, in line with a broader stock slump.
Bloomberg News first reported on the new iPhone SE and iPad Air in January of this year and on the Mac Studio computer and lower-cost monitor in January 2021.
The event was the first of what’s expected to be several product launches this year, with Apple also readying additional Macs and iPads, as well as the iPhone 14 and new smartwatches. And the company may preview its first mixed augmented- and virtual-reality headset later this year.
The new iPhone is Apple’s first update to the SE line since 2020. The model, which will continue to come in black, white and red, will have a slightly higher price: US$429 (RM1,794), up from US$399 (RM1,668). In Malaysia, expect to pay RM2,099 for the 64GB model; RM2,299 for 128GB; and RM2,799 for 256GB. But it has 5G network support, a faster A15 processor and other features.
The iPhone SE continues to look similar to the iPhone 8 from 2017, including a home button with Touch ID – rather than the Face ID used by higher-end models. It has a 4.7in screen, making it the smallest iPhone available. But the addition of 5G makes the device far more competitive in the marketplace and may help the company to lure Android users and consumers with older iPhones.
Apple doesn’t break out sales of individual iPhone models, but the smartphone represents its biggest moneymaker overall, bringing in over half of its revenue in the last fiscal year, or about US$192bil (RM802.94bil).
The previous SE accounted for 12% of iPhone sales since it was launched in 2020, with three-quarters of demand coming from outside the US, according to Counterpoint data. As consumers seek 5G devices, the new model could make headway in Europe, South-East Asia and South Korea, analyst Sujeong Lim said in a report.
The SE first debuted in 2016 amid calls for a smaller and cheaper iPhone, and was previously updated at the beginning of the pandemic. On March 8, Apple also added new green colour options to the iPhone 13, helping keep that model in the news until the iPhone 14 with an updated design arrives later this year.
The new iPhone SE will be available for pre-ordering on March 18 in Malaysia, before reaching stores a week later.
The new iPad Air, which sports an M1 chip, is priced at RM2,699 for the 64GB model and RM3,349 for the 256GB model. Local availability has yet to be announced.
Apple began taking orders for the Mac Studio and Studio Display monitor in the US on March 8, ahead of its release on March 18. The version with the M1 Ultra chip starts at US$3,999 (RM16,799 in Malaysia), while a lower-end version is US$1,999 (RM8,799 in Malaysia). Local availability for both devices have yet to be announced.
The chip has 20 so-called CPU cores, 64 graphics-processing cores and a 32-core neural engine – designed to make it easier for developers to compile code, render 3D graphics and work with video, Apple said. – Bloomberg