Apple launch: What the experts say about iPhone SE, iPad Air

5G, Apple, News
Apple iPhone SE comes in three colours — (PRODUCT)RED, starlight, and midnight — and features the familiar Home button with Touch ID.

Apple has unveiled new versions of its lower-end iPhone SE and iPad Air devices, incorporating the same processors as the top end models.

The iPhone SE will be on sale for $429 from Friday, and comes with the Apple A15 Bionic chip, found in the iPhone 13, a 12 megapixel camera, and also boasts 5G connectivity. It will be able to operate about 26 times faster than the iPhone 8, claims Apple, and includes ‘Live Text’, allowing users to copy text found in a picture.

Meanwhile the Apple iPad Air will come in space grey, starlight, pink, purple and blue, and will be available starting from $599 for 64GB with wifi – although will also be available with 5G.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, also announced a new computer called Mac Studio, featuring the new high-end M1 Ultra processor, and an Apple built Studio Display with its own built-in A13 Bionic chip and built in ultra-wide camera. The Ultra version of the Mac Studio will cost from $3999, and the display will set you back at least $1599 – both available from March 18.

Here’s what the experts had to say about the launch products. 

iPhone SE 

Catherine Hiley, mobiles expert at

“Who needs go-faster stripes when you can have a tiger in your tank? The upgraded iPhone SE might lack the flashiness of the latest premium handsets but it is a huge power-up for the budget range – a 5G-enabled smartphone driven by an iPhone 13 engine. 

“The third-generation model comes just two years after the last SE, which drew praise for delivering premium iPhone performance at a more wallet-friendly price. With the original SE launching in 2016, the faster turnaround for the SE 3 suggests Apple is increasingly looking to dominate the growing budget smartphone market.

“On the surface, not much has changed from the 2020 version and, with the design still based on the iPhone 8, the new SE is unlikely to win any fashion prizes. 

“Familiarity and functionality are the watchwords, with the 4.7-inch LCD display retained with thicker bezels and Touch ID again preferred to the face-recognition software that has been part of Apple’s high-end phones since 2017’s iPhone X

“The new SE has also stuck with a single camera lens, although its camera capabilities have been improved. In the days when many premium models have four lenses, this may be where users really see the difference.

“The most significant changes have come under the hood. While the new SE offers storage of up to 256GB like its predecessor, it now carries the same A15 Bionic chip as last year’s hugely popular iPhone 13. This more powerful and efficient chip should improve the quality of pictures and video and deliver longer battery life.

“As the lowest-priced iPhone to offer 5G, the SE stands to be a popular work phone choice. And with UK operators closing their 3G networks from next year, the handset will also be a tempting option for those who want to future-proof their communications. 

“Smartphone users who want an economic option while staying loyal to iOS will find the SE hard to resist.

Ben Wood, Chief Analyst, CCS Insight:

“A key driver for Apple in releasing the iPhone SE is the need to add 5G capability to Apple’s entry-level phone. Support for 5G is imperative for operators in Apple’s most successful markets, such as the US where carriers will have pushed for this.

“The iPhone SE provides the most affordable iPhone in Apple’s line-up. It is perfect for consumers who are not interested in the bells and whistles on more expensive iPhones but love Apple’s user experience and apps.

“Apple’s decision to use its A15 Bionic chipset in the iPhone SE contrasts the approach taken by rival smartphone makers who tend to use less powerful chipsets in cheaper devices. However, at $429, the iPhone SE is a long way from the sub $200 5G Android smartphones currently offered by several Chinese manufacturers. Apple’s entry-level iPhone would be considered a flagship product by many rival manufacturers.

“The decision to keep Touch ID rather than implementing Face ID in interesting. It’s unclear whether this is down to cost or that Apple’s research shows more conservative iPhone owners prefer to unlock the phone with their fingerprint. That said, it also offers a very tangible point of differentiation from Apple’s more premium iPhone models and is easier to use in a world where mask-wearing has been the norm.

“When the iPhone SE 2020 was announced at the height of the pandemic it was the perfect product at that time. Consumers were uncertain about the outlook and an affordable iPhone was ideally placed to take advantage of that. In 2022 things have improved but the iPhone SE franchise still fills an important role as an affordable iPhone for consumers still cautious about splashing out on a top-of-the-line iPhone or who just don’t feel the need to spend more than is necessary.”

Anisha Bhatia, Senior Technology Analyst at GlobalData: 

“Apple’s newest 5G phone, the mid-range iPhone SE, will increase 5G adoption and help drive iPhones into emerging markets. The coverage of 5G networks in advanced markets has improved over the last year but the take up of 5G services is still quite low. GlobalData expects mobile 5G services to generate $644.6 billion by 2026, equivalent to 64% of total mobile service revenue worldwide.

“However, the availability of affordable handsets will be key to driving adoption, particularly considering strong economic headwinds caused by COVID-19 affecting consumer income. iPhone users lack any affordable 5G phones compared with the varied choices available for Android users, so a mid-range 5G iPhone will be a welcome boost for both operators and users.

“The iPhone SE includes Apple’s premium A15 Bionic chip, which will provide a huge performance boost over the 2020 iPhone SE and iPhone 8 that the 5G SE is targeting. The phone also comes with improved durability and retains the SE’s popular compact Retina display.

“Apple’s decision to stop sales in Russia will have minimal impact on the sales of the 5G iPhone SE. Russia’s 5G networks are not expected to go live until 2023, and although 5G phones are getting popular in the country as a novelty factor, Russia is not a major market for Apple, accounting for approximately 2% of Apple’s worldwide revenues. Apple also does not have any physical retail stores in the country; ceasing online phone sales in Russia will not affect Apple’s bottom-line significantly.

“At $429, the price for the base iPhone SE 5G is slightly more expensive than the 2020 iPhone SE as well as phones from rivals Samsung and Xiaomi. But Apple has a huge installed base of legacy iPhone users still waiting to upgrade.  With carrier promotions and discounts, the iPhone SE 5G is all set to carry on Apple’s 5G supercycle.”

Paolo Pescatore, PP Foresight: 

“The iPhone SE represents an entry point into the Apple universe of other products and services fuelling further revenue growth. A lower cost 5G iPhone will appear to cost-conscious users at a time when household bills are all increasing.” 

“While many will see some upgrades as incremental, there are millions of users who have yet to upgrade to 5G. Therefore, this is so called ‘supercycle’ moment is still relevant.”

“This new iPhone will be a key smartphone for telcos that helps drives much needed volumes and revenue due to 5G.”

iPad Air

Catherine Hiley, mobiles expert at

“Improved power and connectivity are at the heart of the new iPad Air, the fifth incarnation of Apple’s mid-range and lightweight tablet. 

“The new model includes the same M1 chipset as the iPad Pro and social media lovers will be impressed by its 12MP ultra-wide selfie camera, which now supports a useful auto-framing feature, adjusting your pictures while you’re on the move. Added to this the new iPad Air features a clearer display, a faster USB-C charging port and ultra-fast 5G.

“With these upgrades, Apple’s newest iPad could tempt many new customers to the tablet table.”

Ben Wood, Chief Analyst, CCS Insight:

“The biggest challenge Apple faces with the new iPad is how it sits versus the $799 iPad Pro. It is hard to see it will represent an additional $200 of value in the eyes of most consumers given it has a similar industrial design and has the M1 chip.”

Sports Broadcasting

Paolo Pescatore, PP Foresight: 

“Apple’s first live sports programming rights deal is a pivotal moment and represents a statement of intent. Indeed it is paramount to offer a broad range of programming to appeal for the entire household as it is becoming increasingly hard to differentiate with everyone launching a streaming service.”

“Moving into live sports rights allows Apple to differentiate its TV offering further and scope to offer different pricing options in the future.”

Ben Wood, Chief Analyst, CCS Insight:

“While baseball might not be of universal appeal, this marks Apple’s first involvement in sports broadcasting. This is significant and raises the prospect of Apple diversifying further, increasing already intense competition for sports broadcasting rights.”

“I’m interested to see what innovations Apple brings to the sports viewing experience. I predict it will follow the path taken by Liberty Media in Formula 1 which has dramatically enhanced the viewing experience with data-led insights enhancing the broadcast stream.”

M1 Ultra

Ben Wood, Chief Analyst, CCS Insight:

“The performance of the new M1 Ultra chip is remarkable. It is a reminder of Apple’s prowess in semiconductor design and Apple Silicon’s pivotal role in the “finished product” advancements it enables.

“The move to Arm’s architecture with the M1 is not new but the speed of the transition has been startling. The products it is enabling are a reminder of Apple’s end-to-end control and competitive advantage.

“Apple is redefining expectations in computing with M1 and today’s event is a sign of what that will enable in the coming years in terms of performance, battery life and new form factors.”

Apple claims the all-new Mac Studio and Studio Display transform any studio workspace into a creative powerhouse.

Mac Studio/Studio Display

Ben Wood, Chief Analyst, CCS Insight:

“Those who don’t understand the high-end Mac franchise will doubtless be outraged by the $6000 price tag for an entry-level Mac Studio M1 Ultra and Studio Display, but the reality is that the pricing is more than affordable for post-production houses in the film and music industries. It’s a rounding error compared to the price of a high-end production-grade camera.

“Given Apple’s reach with the ProRes codec in digital cinema workflows, I’d expect the upgrade to M1 Ultra will play heavily during the next upgrade cycle. The Studio Display is an impressive new contender in the professional display market. The P3 colour gamut will be attractive to post-production workflows, at a very reasonable price.”

Chris Price
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