What the Apple iPhone SE 2nd Gen means for the Indian market

Apple products are premium products and all those products have always been expensive. The logic is simple, if you have the money, go for an Apple product, if you don’t then there are enough alternatives on the market for you to consider.

That said, you can see why a cheaper iPhone, or even slashed prices on other iPhones is a big deal.

Apple launched the ‘cheap’ iPhone SE (2nd Gen) last evening with prices starting from Rs 42,500 for the base model (3GB/64GB). Which makes it the cheapest iPhone on the market, cheaper than the iPhone XR (currently priced at Rs 48,900 on Amazon for the 64GB model).

The company slashed prices on the iPhone XR last year before it launched the iPhone 11 series. That pushed up Apple’s iPhone sales massively in 2019 and made the XR one of the best selling iPhone models ever worldwide.

This basically tells us two things. One, people will buy an Apple product if they can and two, they will buy an older Apple product if the price fits, even if there are newer Apple flagships on offer.

In other countries, you can get high-end Apple devices at subsidised prices through telecom carriers. India does not have that option, which makes an iPhone a hugely aspirational product in this market — everyone would want to have one, not everyone can afford one. That is where launching the iPhone SE (2nd Gen) makes a whole lot of sense for India.

The major shift in India’s premium market recently has been two-fold. First, there are more people buying premium phones than ever before. And second, brands like OnePlus, who were known for affordable premium products have moved beyond the Rs 40,000 price points and into the flagship territory.

Considering Apple’s soaring brand value and aspirational quality, an iPhone for Rs 42,500 suddenly sounds highly unbelievable. Because of these qualities, an iPhone SE (2nd Gen) — that arguably doesn’t have specs as good as OnePlus 8 or even the Samsung Galaxy S20 — sounds like a viable alternative for those phones. You’re saving a lot of money, so you’re fine not getting multiple cameras, for instance.

On the 2nd Gen iPhone SE, at a price point of Rs 42,500 (approx) you are getting a decent camera (not the best from Apple’s arsenal but one that will work for most users) and Apple’s all powerful A13 Bionic chip (the same one the iPhone 11 series has). The design is old and there is no Face ID, instead Apple has gone for a solid throwback and brought back the iPhone 8-esque Touch ID. However, the phone is compact and with a 4.7-inch screen, it’s the smallest new iPhone out there.

A small(er), compact, powerful device may not be in vogue anymore, but it does have a market.

Given the current market scenario where the economy has been hit massively by the global Covid-19 pandemic, an affordable device from a premium company hits the right notes.

Furthermore, the premium segment will take a smaller hit from the pandemic than the affordable segment. As a result, a person who was otherwise going to spend Rs. 60,000 on a phone will now spend Rs. 40,000. To take a quote out of Apple’s playbook — it just works.

In fact, even when Apple launches the iPhone 12 series, you can still expect the iPhone SE (2nd Gen) to do better. Hard-core Apple fans will buy the new iPhone 12, but for the noobs tip-toeing into the system, the iPhone SE (2nd Gen) is going to win.

Let’s put it this way, people wanted to buy the iPhone XR because it was cheap. The iPhone SE (2nd Gen) is cheaper and has Apple’s most powerful chip (till date) under the hood. If you are not hung-up about the older design language, and want to buy a new phone this year, the iPhone SE (2nd Gen) could be an obvious choice.

Granted the original iPhone SE didn’t perform as expected upon launch in India, but the market’s changed since 2016, and that might work in Apple’s favour.

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