Apple’s iPhone SE isn’t popular because it’s cheap (says Tim Cook)

Listen to the Apple CEO's words and he's got some very interesting theories about Apple's new (relatively) compact and inexpensive iPhone.

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Is it attractive because it's fast? Or because it's really quite cheap?

And there you were thinking Apple had slipped downscale.

Must-see offer

iPhone SE. Lots to love. Less to spend.

Starting at $399, the new iPhone SE (2020) launches on April 24 at Apple.com. It packs a powerful chip in a compact size.

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Why, the release of the new iPhone SE heralded a phone with some remarkably modern features for what some might describe as a bargain price.

For a mere $399, you can get an iPhone 8 that's got the heart of an iPhone 11. And the camera of an iPhone 8.

Surely, Apple would concede that it's finally addressing the nether regions of the phone market with some gravity.

And surely you'll believe you can power your car with plantain skins.

I've been poring over the transcript of Tim Cook's remarks to analysts last week. And they're garlanded with such deft nuance as to remind one of the days when politicians were sophisticated.

Cook said he sees no evidence that anyone is trading down to buy the SE. No, no. The SE's customers aren't fancy iPhone owners looking for an actual bargain. Perish the concept.

Instead "those customers are primarily coming from wanting a smaller form factor with the latest technology, or coming over to it from Android."

You see? It's the (slightly) smaller-handed people and those desperate to get away from the déclassé environs of Android that look at the SE and swoon.

Money doesn't come into it at all. How could you?

Naturally, I'd have been tempted to ask whether those coming from Android might have been tempted by the price. Or whether small-handed people are often in the market for a great deal. I'm familiar with at least one small-handed person who loves a great deal.

I'm talking, of course, of my wife. (Your mind didn't immediately go there, did it?)

She looked at an iPhone SE ad, saw the words "Lots to Love, Less to Spend" and immediately asked whether the SE was 500 bucks. On being told it was even less than that, she almost sounded excited.

Cook, though, truly believes no one really wants an iPhone just because it's cheap, although he crept mightily close to admitting that price is sorely tempting.

In another answer on the call, he observed: "It's an unbelievable offer. It's, if you will, the engine of our top phones in a very affordable package. And I think it's faster than the fastest Android phones."

An unbelievable offer? That's a touch man-selling-you-an-amazing-window-cleaning-device-with-a-free-food-blender-on- QVC, doesn't it?

Still, Cook couldn't resist righting himself by insisting real people -- those at whom the SE is primarily aimed -- buy phones because they're fast.

Surely everyone knows that new phones go a little faster, then deteriorate over time -- sometimes quite quickly.

In essence, then, those tempted by the SE either have small hands, Android, or are desperate for a faster phone.

The price is just a little extra.