The iPhone SE has made for the single most unexciting "new iPhone" announcement in the history of Apple smartphones. Consider that according to a study by Slice Intelligence, online iPhone SE sales were at just 3% compared to first-weekend iPhone 6 online sales. By comparison, first-weekend online sales of the current-gen iPhone 6s series are estimated at 54% of the iPhone 6 benchmark. 3% is very little by Apple standards, although we'll cut the doomsaying at this point and leave that to less sophisticated news outlets. Okay, we admit – we're simply afraid of being ridiculed by the Macalope!
Still, one of the reasons behind the lukewarm response to the iPhone SE has to be the fact that, while unquestionably new, the device doesn't feel new, and therefore exciting. That's because it uses a three year-old design – that of the iPhone 5s (2013). And as you probably know, that handset was based on the iPhone 5 (2012), itself a rework of the iPhone 4/4s design (2010/2011) with a taller screen and aluminum back. Too much deja vu?
The iPhone SE is made for ones who know exactly what they are looking for.
We decided to ask our readers how they feel about it. While we're quite fine with the practical and aesthetic aspects of Apple's decision, our audience is anonymously dissatisfied with the iPhone SE's recycled design! 62.23% (1178 voters out of 1893) expected a brand new – or maybe not so outright familiar design to go together with the new iPhone announcement. Although the iPhone SE will certainly gather its limited, but loyal following, we can imagine many people will storms carrier stores asking for "the new iPhone", only to be surprisingly met by one that looks exactly like the one from 2013, but runs like the bigger, and altogether different looking one from 2015.
Then again, that's a minor problem in the grander scheme of things. The iPhone SE is obviously a phone made for customers that explicitly know they are looking for a compact device. It's an unusual move for Apple, the universal crowd pleaser, but it's also a gentle gesture towards its cult-like following. Some people wanted a smaller phone. Apple listened, cooked up a strategy, and delivered it. Kudos!