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Don't hold your breath for a (really) cheap iPhone anytime soon

Apple may not be willing to drop its phone pricing and quality beyond the $429 iPhone SE.

Published onApril 22, 2024

iPhone SE 2022 review second opinion showing back of the phone in hand
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
  • Compared to Android-powered rivals, the $429 iPhone SE isn’t cheap. You can find more recent tech for a lower price.
  • Apple may need to release an even cheaper iPhone to appeal to new customers in emerging markets.
  • The iPhone maker is reportedly unwilling to pursue this option to avoid diluting its premium brand and to maintain its high-end status.

For a long time, Apple had refrained from releasing lower-end iPhones that cater to those on more limited budgets. While we now have an SE line with a lower price tag, it’s still relatively expensive compared to cheap Android phones. Despite that, Apple reportedly has no plans to release an even cheaper iPhone anytime soon, as that would dilute its premium brand.

According to Bloomberg, Apple may need to release a more affordable iPhone to appeal to customers in emerging markets. However, the company is reportedly unwilling to do so, as that could impact its high-end status. Consequently, those on lower budgets will have to seek a low-end Android phone or opt for a used iPhone.

Apple’s first cheap iPhone experiment dates back to 2013 when it released the plastic iPhone 5c for $99. At the time, the flagship 5s model started at $199, theoretically making the plastic variant a tempting pick for those on a budget. Except that the iPhone 5c flopped. It turns out that customers worldwide preferred the premium build despite its higher price.

Ever since, the company hasn’t violated the “Apple doesn’t do cheap” philosophy set by Steve Jobs. Instead, it launched the iPhone SE line in 2016, which features dated — yet premium — hardware for a mid-range price. Today, the latest iPhone SE 3 costs $429, which is still more than many customers are willing to spend on a smartphone. Nevertheless, the tech overlord seemingly prioritizes its reputation over sales.

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