Apple unveils smaller 4 inch iPhone in new product event

- Apple CEO Tim Cook is reiterating his pledge to resist the U.S. government's demands for the company's help to unlock an encrypted iPhone used by one of the killers in the San Bernardino mass shootings.

Cook opened a product event at Apple's Cupertino campus on Monday by saying that Apple owes it to its customers to protect their privacy and the personal information they store on iPhones and said he is "humbled and deeply gratified" by the outpouring of support he has received over the issue.

As expected, the company used the event to introduce an upgrade to its older, four-inch iPhone 5S.

The new iPhone SE is aimed at consumers who haven't sprung for the bigger-screen iPhone 6 models that Apple introduced over the last two years.

The new phone has similar features to the iPhone 6, including a fast processor, which has previously been offered only on versions of the iPhone 6.

Apple says the iPhone SE also has advanced graphics and camera systems. It's also three times faster than the iPhone 5S.

Prices start at $399. A higher capacity 64GB model will cost $499.

Apple also announced a new version of the iPad Pro. The smaller 9.7-inch model has enough hardware to serve as a laptop, according to vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller.

The new iPad Pro comes with a smart keyboard and Apple Pencil and is available in four colors, including space grey and rose gold. Prices start at $599.

The new products will be available to order starting Thursday, March 24 and will go on sale March 31.

The iPhone SE may draw some additional users into the market for Apple's online services, including Apple Music, Apple Pay and the highly profitable mobile App Store, according to analysts.

It could help Apple boost overall sales. But some financial analysts say the new four-inch iPhone isn't likely to see the kind of blockbuster demand that Apple enjoyed with its large-screen iPhone 6 and 6S models.

While shoppers bought a record 74.8 million iPhones in the final three months of 2015, Apple has signaled demand in the current three-month period will fall short of the 61 million iPhones sold in the January-March quarter last year.

Analysts say the lower cost for the newest iPhone means it may appeal to consumers, especially in overseas markets, who want a premium phone at lower cost.

It may also draw interest from owners of older iPhone 5 models who find the larger models unwieldy.

Many analysts expect Apple will release a more dramatically revamped new iPhone 7 in the fall.

The proliferation of iPhone and iPad models may seem contrary to Apple's traditional focus — espoused by late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs — on producing fewer products that it believes are superior to competitors' offerings.

By contrast, Samsung is known for selling a multitude of phones and tablets at various sizes and prices.

But Apple has gradually expanded its family of devices in recent years to reach consumers in different market categories, which also helps the company sell more online goods and services, said Gartner tech analyst Brian Blau.

"Tim Cook has said he thinks there's a lot of life left in the iPhone product line, despite the media and investor community pressuring Apple over the potential decline in premium iPhone sales," Blau said. "I think it's exactly these types of things that he has in mind."
 

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