Apple announces new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, 4-inch iPhone SE

On Monday, an Apple keynote too place, where CEO Tim Cook and some other Apple staffers announced some new Apple product news. My thoughts on everything Apple announced follows below.

Apple vs the FBI

Tim Cook kicked things off early on by commenting on Apple’s valuing encryption. This tied into Apple’s recent ongoing standoff with the FBI over whether or not they should be forced to unencrypt an iPhone used by the now-deceased San Bernardino shooters. That would be at the risk of the security of iPhone users, of course.

That said, word came in late Monday that the Department of Justice and FBI are dropping their case against Apple (which would’ve seen a court hearing the very next day). The FBI claims they’ve found a way around the device’s encryption to get the data they’re looking for. However, there’s no indication how the FBI has done this, or whether they plan to explain such to Apple.

Price drop on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch came with a price drop, from $349 to $299, as well as a selection of new watchbands. Still expensive for what’s basically a smartphone accessory/fitness tracker.

The iPhone SE

Apple’s announced a new iPhone model, the iPhone SE. The SE is basically a mix of the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 6S. It comes with a 4″ display, but offers almost all of the same specs as the current iPhone line.

The phones come in two configurations: a 16GB model for $399, and a 64GB model for $499, both on sale March 31. It’s rather unfortunate that here in 2016, Apple’s still offering a 16GB sized smartphone with no means of upgrading (via an SD card slot). That aside, I expect this to be a fairly popular model among those willing to sacrifice screen size for saving a few dollars.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro

Apple’s also announced a new, 9.7″ model of the iPad Pro, complete with an optional keyboard accessory and support for the Apple Pencil. The models include a 32GB model for $599, a 128GB model for $749, and a 256 model for $899. The regular sized iPad Pro will also offer a new 256GB model for $1,099.

There’s also been a few adjustments on the previous iPads. The original iPad Air is discontinued, with only the iPad Air 2 left. New pricing and configurations for the iPad Air 2 are a 16GB model for $399 and a 64GB model for $499 (the 128GB model is discontinued). See my previous remarks on offering a non-expandable 16GB-sized tablet.

The iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 4 are both still offered. For some reason, the press conference didn’t mention the mini 4, but it’s still on sale. Both models are unchanged, and at their usual starting prices of $269 for the mini 2 and $399 for the mini 4.

Incremental upgrades

As usual, there’s some incremental upgrades to other existing products, as well as to iOS and Apple TV’s tvOS. To rattle off a few:

  • Siri can now be used on the Apple TV to input information verbally, including passwords.
  • “Night Shift,” where lighting will automatically adjust on devices for nighttime usage.
  • Improved security.

There was also discussion of Apple’s environmentalism aspects, as well as health care software “CareKit.”

That sums it up. Nothing really earth-shaking, and those interested in Macs will have to wait for a later press conference for news on those.

This is also the last press conference to be held in Apple’s old “town hall” theater. The original iPod was announced there 15 years ago. All future product announcements will be held in their new “spaceship” facility.

What are your thoughts about the new Apple product news? Any interest in the iPhone SE, or “mini” sized iPad Pro?

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