Feature Article

March 21, 2016

Apple Introduces New 4-Inch iPhone, Smaller iPad Pro, Much More

Apple has been in the news a lot lately due to its battle with the FBI over the fight to unlock its iPhones to enable law enforcement access to the San Bernardino shooter’s smartphone.

The tech giant is making headlines again today, but this time it’s because the company has unveiled a wide array of new products and capabilities. That includes a new and smaller iPad and iPhone, new Apple Watch bands, an Apple TV update, the release of iOS 9.3, and a health care tool called CareKit.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, began today’s press conference talking about the importance with which the company guards its customers’ data, a reference to the company’s battle with the U.S. government noted above. Then he quickly pivoted to the new product conversation.

Among the new products Apple unveiled today is the iPhone SE, a four-inch phone that starts at $399 for 16GB or $17 a month without a service contract. Four-inch phones are an important part of its iPhone portfolio, Apple says, given 30 million of these smaller devices sold last year and because many people who use this size of Apple smartphone are first-time smartphone owners.

The new phone has a 64-bit A9 chip with an embedded motion processor (the same processor used in the iPhone 6), the same graphics support as the iPhone 6, support for Siri, Apple’s most advanced camera system (with a 12-mexapixel iSight camera, Focus pixels, True Tone flash, and more), the ability for the user to take still photos and have them come to life, a brighter display, and the ability to capture 4K video. It supports LTE speeds that are 50 percent faster than those of the iPhone 5, can connect using 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and features built-in NFC for Apple Pay.

Also this morning, Apple introduced an iPad Pro with a 9.7-inch retinal display that weighs less than a pound. The iPad Pro is very popular with the creative community, including such celebrated individuals as Pixar’s John Lasseter, Apple said. But the iPad Pro has also attracted a strong community of Windows users, according to Apple, which noted that more than 600 million PCs in use today are over 5 years old and displayed a slide calling the Apple device “the ultimate PC replacement.”

The iPad Pro, which is available in silver, gold, space gray, and for the first time rose gold, will sell for $599 for 32GB with Wi-Fi; $749 for 128GB unit with Wi-Fi; and, for first time, with 256GB and Wi-Fi for $899. Orders will be taken starting March 24, and product will begin shipping March 31.

These devices feature a display with the lowest reflectivity of any tablet, a brighter display, a wide color gamut, 25 percent greater color saturation than previous solutions, and output of 500 nits of light. These iPads and the new iPhone SE also feature True Tone, a nifty feature that measures the color temperature of ambient light and adjusts the display to ensure it shows the correct color of the image. The iPad Pro also has four-speaker audio, the A9X chip, an integrated M9 coprocessor, support for always-on Hey Siri, and the 12MP iSight camera that can shoot 4K video and allows for 5MP FaceTime HD video.

This new iPad fills out what Apple indicates is a broad array of tablets at a variety of price points, including the iPad mini, from $269; the iPad Air 2, from $399; the iPad Pro 9.7-inch, from $599; and the iPad Pro 12.9-inch, from $799.

Apple iOS 9.3, meanwhile, is available starting today. This release, which Apple has been previewing, includes a neat new feature called Night Shift, that adjusts the display to use warmer colors at night so sleep patterns of the user aren’t interrupted due to the nighttime use of a bright screen.

Cook also touched on some news related to Apple TV and Apple Watch. Following Apple TV’s recent redesign, he said, the company realized the largest sales ever of the product. There are now 5,000 Apple TV apps available, he added. Now Apple is introducing folders to Apple TV, enabling users to organize their home screens to meet their preferences. Dictation and Siri for the App Store are among the other features that are now available to Apple TV users, all via a free update.

Health care and the environment were other themes of Apple’s presentation today.

On the health care front, Apple COO Jeff Williams talked about the ResearchKit it rolled out last year to enable researchers to gather data from Apple devices to help with medical research. Now the company has introduced CareKit, a framework through which developers can create applications so people can better manage their own medical conditions. That can include keeping track of symptoms and medicine doses, sharing information with family members and doctors, and more. The first initiative related to CareKit targets Parkinson’s patients. 

The first presentation this morning was about what Apple is doing to protect the environment and how the company is working to change the world for the better through using renewable power at its data centers and stores, using recycled paper or paper from sustainably managed forests in its packaging, and recycling and reusing the materials from discarded Apple devices. To the last point, Apple showed a short video of Liam the robot dissembling an iPhone.

All of this product news comes just two months after the company reported record quarterly revenue and net income – of $75.9 billion and $18.4 billion, respectively – for the first quarter of 2016. 

“Our team delivered Apple’s biggest quarter ever, thanks to the world’s most innovative products and all-time record sales of iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV,” Cook said in announcing the news in late January. “The growth of our Services business accelerated during the quarter to produce record results, and our installed base recently crossed a major milestone of one billion active devices.” 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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