iPhone SEApple’s latest mobile devices, announced today, are not likely to rock your world. They might just about register on the Advanced LIGO detectors, but those are about the only equipment outside the Apple Reality Distortion Field likely enough to register the difference they will make to anyone’s lives, or Apple’s fortunes.

To start with, there’s the iPhone SE, whose great claim on our attention appears to be – that it’s small. In fact, Apple headlines it as “A big step for small,” and describes it as the most powerful 4‑inch phone ever. To create it, we started with a beloved design, then reinvented it from the inside out … The result is an iPhone that looks small. But lives large.” Small versus large could also apply to its price: $399. Small for an iPhone, maybe. Large for a 4-inch phone? I guess we’ll have a chance to find out what the market thinks on March 31st, when it debuts. But personally I won’t be squatting outside any Apple Stores to rent the space to eager buyers.

Then there’s the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, whose main selling point, once again, seems to be that it’s a smaller, cheaper version of something else. Its Retina display is claimed to be “25 percent brighter and 40 percent less reflective than iPad Air® 2,” which must be rather hard on long-suffering iPad Air owners. And “incredible performance with the 64-bit A9X chip that rivals most portable PCs” will surely turn your iBooks pages quicker. Pricing starts at $599 for the 32GB WiFi version, and once again, market debut is slated for end March.

I’ll admit to my usual dose of anti-Apple snark, but my reality remains resolutely undistorted by these units. Yes, both look to be very serviceable and elegantly turned out iterations of existing Apple technology. Both have Retina displays. Both will serve first-time users or repeat buyers very well. But is the digital device market about to abandon the phablet form factor for smaller screens all due to the iPhone SE? Does either device have enough going for it to justify the cost premium on other mobiles capable of doing almost as much at a fraction of the price? When will Apple stop pissing off journalists – and probably customers and analysts too – with the pointless disproportion between the hype around its products and the mediocre reality? Investors obviously agreed, because Apple stock turned south during the event.


  1. A 4 inch screen is not ideal but it’s fine for short periods while waiting around on the go. I’ve got tablets and e-readers for longer-term reading and I’ll take a smaller phone for other purposes, any day

  2. LOL what’s the point of this post? They have iPhones and iPads in several sizes.
    Obviously smaller means harder to read and bigger means harder to carry.
    So get what you want and if you are hard to please buy everything.
    Or just delete this rant and we’ll all be better for it !

    • Spot on. Some people will buy the 4 inch phone for reasons other than just ereading and. There will be times when you may not have your tablet or e-reader on you and if all you have is a 4 inch phone, then this will do.

      The 4 inch phone was good enough for many years before Apple started making the larger size phones

  3. @Paul: Thanks for your post. Of course, this is yet another reminder that there’s no TeleRead Company Line (well, at least as long as Donald Trump isn’t involved). You’re free to speak your mind about Apple’s latest. But as founder and publisher of TeleRead, I’m also free to disagree.

    First, like BDR, I think different screen sizes can work best at different times. Furthermore, different individuals’ needs will vary. As Mac2Net says, there are trade-offs.

    Second, Apple is supposed to be offering brighter screens. If they’re sufficiently brighter, that could be big news for Apple fans who want to e-read outside. Tomorrow Chris Meadows will be writing on the possibilities that the Apple announcement hinted at.

    Third, some good reading-related apps exist for iOS that aren’t around for Android. Until recently there wasn’t even an Android version of Voice Dream Reader. If nothing else, I find that Apple’s readability mode is better for Web browsing than what I can find in Android.

    I hope people get the picture. Meanwhile if any TeleRead community members want to review iOS e-reading apps dear to them—and find via Google that we haven’t covered them recently—we’d be open to running them as guest contributions if we like what we see.


  4. Human variability makes it difficult to say much that is relevant about devices such as these. I read quite comfortably and quickly on a 5th gen iPod touch. My nearsightedness and Apple’s retina display (a bit beyond the range of human perception) make this so. Your mileage may vary from mine.
    There are those who are gladly willing to pay a premium for a rich and elegant experience. There are also those who delight in approximating that experience at the least cost or least commitment.
    The great thing, as the Hubble telescope has taught us, is that the universe is plenty big enough to accommodate all of us.

  5. I have an iPhone 5s and need to upgrade but the thought of a larger phone was just too depressing. There are times when procrastinating works in one’s favor, and this was one of those times. I will be ordering an iPhone SE and am quite excited about it. Different strokes.

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