Why Apple’s ‘iPhone 5se’ would be a desperate move

“Apple is rumored to be readying an iPhone 5se which would take the iPhone 5s, update its internals to be similar to the iPhone 6 and somewhat update its design language to be more family-like with the iPhone 6 and 6s,” Paulo Santos writes for Seeking Alpha. “This is a desperate move, with Apple knowing Q3 FY2016 is going to look even worse than Q2 FY2016.”

“It being a desperate move is evident from the re-purposing of a previous design through a facelift. Apple simply does not do this. Each Apple design is supposed to be unique (or the same, in ‘s cycles’) – to be the best it can be,” Santos writes. “Taking an iPhone 5s body and changing some stuff around plus plugging in a 2.5D glass is simply not Apple-like. This means the product went through a very short design stage to get to the market as soon as possible.”

“It’s rumored that the phone will not include 3D Touch (expected, to reduce costs), yet will have access to Live Photos. Again, this like many other instances I’ve chronicled in the past exposes Apple to an image risk,” Santos writes. “It shows the company is purposely keeping some features off previous models even though they’re fully capable of handling them (the iPhone 6 did not receive Live Photos, for instance). Moreover, it also expands on the 3D Touch inconsistency, with the iPad Pro and now the iPhone 5se not having it in spite of it supposedly being some kind of great selling point.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There’s a lot of bunk in Santos’ full article, but this portion holds some truth.

Since the rumors began regarding this outlier 4-inch iPhone, we’ve wondered how can Apple introduce this “iPhone 5se” (awful name) without 3D Touch, but with Live Photos? Imagine the uproar from millions of iPhone 6/Plus owners over that! If this “iPhone 5se” and its 3D Touchless Live Photos feature is true, we’d expect Apple to enable it on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with a software update unless they’ve totally lost the plot. Still, that leaves them open to the obvious claim that they withheld Live Photos until after Christmas in order to move as many 6s/Plus units as possible. Customers in general do not like to be toyed with, especially so obviously.

All that said, this is all conjecture based on rumors, so we’ll withhold judgement regarding any new 4-inch iPhone until it actually arrives and its specs/features are known.

Apple likely to debut iPad Air 3, iPhone 5se, iOS 9.3, watchOS 2.2 with new Maps app, new Apple Watch bands at March event – January 27, 2016
Why Apple’s rumored 4-inch iPhone 5se may well be worth seriously considering – January 25, 2016
‘iPhone 5se’ likely to have faster A9/M9 chips and always-on Siri – January 25, 2016
Apple ‘iPhone 5se’ compared to an iPhone 5 in leaked image – January 25, 2016


  1. So what is “Paulo’s” experience in running multi-BILLION dollar companies??

    I pass on his advice and let the experts at Apple keep doing what they do best, make products that people want.

      1. Agreed to a point. However, I don’t get why the big deal about supporting Live Photos viewing. My iPad Air 2 can ‘view’ Live Photos sent to me from an iPhone 6s. I DO think that Apple is arbitrarily using it as a determinator to push people to the more expensive product. The old Apple only omitted features when it resulted in a poor experience.

        The new Apple uses features as a upselling tactic and it’s ugly and dirty.

        Unless there’s a good reason to omit a certain feature ( dependent on hardware, for example ) it shouldn’t be omitted. Panorama is a good example of something they got right. It was available on ALL phones when the new version of iOS came out.

        Slo-mo is another good example. Restricted to certain devices because it was dependent on hardware.

        Live Photos seems to me to be purely about Software. As such, it should be available on all devices.

        1. Live Photos is not just about software, but about the camera processor. It has nothing to do with the presence of the 3D Touch feature. The 3D Touch is used to play back Live Photos, but not to take them. But I can send a Live Photo to anyone using an iPhone 4s or above, running iOS 9, and the user can play back my Live Photo simply by pressing on the screen…same as with the 6s/Plus, but without the 3D touch feedback.

          But the key is that the camera processor needs to be able to execute the Live Photo capability. And the camera module has its own dedicated processor. So if the camera module is different than the 6/Plus, then it is entirely feasible that the 5se could handle a Live Photo but the 6 could not.

          1. I agree… but that’s a big “IF”

            Correlation is not causation. Apple made no mention of Live Photos being part of a dedicated hardware module. Chances are it could easily work on the iPhone 6 as well. If there WAS a hardware reason, Apple likely would have waxed poetic about this brand new processor that they invented to be able to accomplish this amazing feat.

            Unless I missed something in the keynote, they intimated no such thing. I could be wrong, but it’s more likely that taking Live photos was meant to be one of the ‘visible’ features of the iPhone 6s. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame them. After all, when Apple adds faster chipsets and more efficient innards without some obvious killer feature, people just say… meh, I’ll save money and keep my ‘6’ or, I’ll buy last year’s model, because they’re basically the same.

      2. It’s not the *viewing* of the live photos, it’s taking them. Presumably they tried it out internally and it was a crappy experience on the previous phones.

        Thought of course any company strives to make this year’s model stand out from previous ones.

            1. I never said they never tried it out. Admittedly however, my statement isn’t 100% clear.

              Of course they tested it. However, my skepticism is directed at it being a poor experience on older phones. Presumably, they tested it out, found out that it works fine on last year’s phone and made a marketing decision to make the feature a differentiator.

              In the end, it’s simply capturing video before and after the photo. They hit the record button when you launch the phone and store it in the buffer.

              Can you, with a straight face, say that you feel that it’s a special feature that requires a new processor?

  2. Whats news here.. Apple always holds back features on select models for marketing reasons….

    But calling the smaller phone a desperate move is silly….its a great size and completes the lineup both in size and price .

        1. Difficult to take this clown seriously when he bases his whole premise upon a bogus claim that is very easily researched if he actually wanted the truth rather than an excuse to write an alarmist peice of trash for effect and in particular hits.

        2. Completely different. Milking is the act of squeezing/wringing/sucking money out of a consumer, usually a captive one.

          Marketing is the act of appealing/persuading/attracting the consumer.

          Old Apple used to effectively market and efficiently engineer.

          New Apple has is effectively managing ( supply chains ) and efficiently milking ( consumers ).

          1. You have a point:)…when it pertains to end user.
            The way i look at it though there is a definite overlap.
            Milk an idea to its last drop through marketing Tricks. Which also endsup milking the enduser.
            But arent all high end product marketing approachs more or less the same… market the apeal Effectively and milk the customer through the apeal.

  3. I always remember a saying I heard one time…

    “If a brilliant product isn’t cheap, it isn’t well designed”

    Think about it. Who wouldn’t want an iPhone for $99? I think this is the end goal for Apple, they’re playing the real game. The game of making a product that is so easy and reliable, an appliance if you will, and coming up, so affordable that you’d be an idiot not to buy one.

    Their profits keep growing, so that means efficiency is getting better and better. Why not up production, if you have the where’s and means to do it without affecting quality?

    Jony Ive’s bio was an eye opener. This guy, as a designer, knows his stuff. Believe me, this more affordable iPhone is waiting in the wings to turn Apple into a commodity item.

    In other words, they’ve let Android get all the people who just can’t stretch to an iPhone and let them use their shite and be fed up… but now with an affordable iPhone 5se they can get a wicked pocket computer that all makes phone calls.

    1. Their margins don’t keep growing so efficiency is not getting better and better.

      Apple should have 4″, 4.7″ and 5.5″ phones of each generation. Different people want different sizes, even if they want the newest generation.

      Continue selling the previous generation of all three sizes 4″, 4.7″ and 5.5″ for the budget crowd.

      In other words, do what worked well before, but with three model sizes.

    2. If you’re expecting the 5SE to be an “affordable” iPhone, you might be disappointed, or at least should define what you mean by “affordable”.

      Yet again we’re going over territory that has already been covered in previous years with similar FUD articles based on similar rumours. When the 5C was rumoured and indeed after it was released, it was comprehensively slagged off and pronounced to be a failure. People pontificated that it would be sold at a very low price ( ignore the price with a contract and look at the actual cost ) and seemed shocked when it was still priced towards the mid to upper end of the general smartphone market. As it happened, it went on to be a very successful iPhone model, but some people still regard it as a failure because they were told that it would fail.

      It’s certainly possible to design an iPhone that is cheaper and more efficient to build by using tried and tested elements from recent models together with the economies of scale that Apple enjoys, but that still won’t allow Apple to make a sub $100 iPhone.

      I think that all Apple products are keenly priced. They make them very efficiently and to a high standard, iPhones also have a high resale value, which offsets the initial purchase price. Some people will only ever look at the sticker price and will disregard any other considerations. Those people will never be Apple’s target clientele as there will always be a cheaper alternative to an iPhone.

      My guess is that the iPhone SE will be a fairly well specified iPhone, which means that it won’t be possible to sell it at a very low price, however it will be a high quality smartphone that is worthy of the iPhone name and will be sold at a sensible price.

      Personally I’m not too concerned about the price, my preference is for a small iPhone with full feature parity with the flagship iPhones. I have my doubts that Apple will actually offer the combination of features that I would really like, but I feel fairly confident that they will offer a small iPhone that will still appeal to me.

    1. Apple doesn’t specifically aim at enterprise markets or BRIC countries and generalisations about what would sell in those categories are often very wide of the mark.

      For instance, the flagship iPhones have sold very well in China.

  4. Apple is just doing what it did with iPod – fleshing out the range to provide more products at more price points. A 5SE might be compared to the iPod nano – compact, less capacity, fewer features, lower price. In the future we might also see an equivalent to the iPod shuffle – a much smaller body with essential features only but perhaps tightly integrated with the watch.

    The comparison with iPod can’t be taken too far, but the general strategy works. I wouldn’t mind a phone in an iPod nano form factor – that would be very cool. Web browsing would be crap but it would do maps well, the screen is big enough for a numeric keypad for dialling and Siri could fill in the gaps.

    We might also see an iPad mini with phone capabilities – a Bluetooth or similar headset would avoid the maxwell smart shoe-to-the-ear look…

    Apple don’t always get it right, but they usually do, and they certainly understand this market. The hot air from armchair critics should be ignored.

  5. If it’s a phone for emerging economies eg India and other BRICs it makes sense. And to appeal to kids / parents or tight budgets, which may be increasing. Having money (or debt) does not necessarily equate to having class, taste or intelligence, despite what some might say.

      1. It will have a merket and don’t be surprised if it’s a big one…

        Miniaturization is still king and will always be, in the electronics world, Apple took this page straight out on the Sony playbook.

  6. Ah, ignorance is wasted on the young. I am sure that Mr. Santos is too young to remember the Mac SE and then the Mac SE30 — he probably wasn’t even born when those venerable machines were state of the art. Nothing new here.

    1. I heard a story once of why the SE naming was followed by SE30.. At the time the Mac II was followed by the Mac IIx and Apple marketing thought it would be embarrassing to do the same to the SE. 😀

  7. I see little reason for Apple to kiss Wall Street’s ass. Would Steve? No. Let the bashes drive down the share price. Say thanks, idiots, and then go in the market and buy back more shares.

    Apple is strong enough to tell most of these guys to take a hike and trying to please them. Laugh at hem and walk off. They will never be happy.

  8. I’m still happily using a iPhone 5. I love the 4 inch screen size and would defiantly buy the iPhone 5se. If some features are not included, like on the iPhone 6, so be it. I still refuse to use Siri and have no intent to.

  9. I don’t think it’s that silly to have a 4 inch screen version of the iPhone. I know at least 2 people that are clinging to their 5s and will upgrade if Apple releases this new rumored 5se.

    I do think there is a not insignificant number of customers who want the smaller model and will upgrade if the 5se becomes a reality.

    And just to clear things up, it is not the 3d touch that is critical to the Live Photo feature. It is the camera processor. I already can take a Live Photo with my 6s Plus and send them to any iPhone 4s or above running iOS9 and the user can play them back by touching and holding down on the screen.

    So including Live Photo with the iPhone 5se but not the 6 could be justified based on the camera module/processor used. I repeat: it has nothing to do with 3d Touch.

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