The phrase "go big or go home" has been lost on Apple, apparently.
At an event in Cupertino today, the company announced the iPhone SE with a 4-inch screen and a smaller version of the iPad Pro with a 9.7-inch screen.
The iPhone SE is like a mini-me version of the iPhone 6S with the same A9 chip, so it has the exact same processing speed of the 6S and double the speed of the previous 4-inch model. The 12-megapixel camera is also not that exciting. It's simply a smaller form-factor which means it takes up a bit less real estate in your bag and fits in a pocket easier. There is absolutely nothing innovative here other than a smaller version of the same phone.
The new model costs $399 for the 16GB model; there's also a 64GB model. The SE goes on sale in late March and in over 100 countries by late May.
The company also announced the iPad Pro 9.7-inch that weighs about a pound. I loved the first iPad Pro which had a stylus and a smart keyboard case at first, although I've been realizing more and more that it still can't replace any laptop. It doesn't run any real video or photo editing apps, doesn't really allow you to type as fast as normal laptop or even the Surface Book, and doesn't match the multi-tasking you can do with multiple apps running on Windows 10 or even the Mac.
The iPad Pro 9.7-inch is simply a smaller version of the 12.9 model with the same features and specs. It's a better version of the 9.7-inch iPad Air (brighter, clearer, better colors) but that isn't saying much. The new model only has one innovation even worth mentioning--that there are some new ambient light sensors. At $599, the new iPad Pro 9.7-inch costs less than the iPad Pro 12.9 (at $799) and will ship in a few weeks.
Apple announced a couple of minor tweaks to iOS including a screen adjustment trick that changes colors at night, additions to the Notes app like password protection, and a few new features for CarPlay like tweaks to the Maps app. Boring, boring, boring.
It was weird listening to people applaud lightly for these minor announcements. If you are hoping Apple makes a self-driving car, creates a brand new device in addition to a tablet and a smartphone (say, VR goggles or maybe something totally new like a holographic display or a new wearable), it did not happen. And, maybe it won't happen for a while. Maybe Apple is going to have to focus too much on fighting for privacy. Maybe the company is content tweaking their current product offerings.
Also, maybe they are content letting Samsung do all of the innovation with a waterproof phone (the new Samsung Galaxy S7 can be submerged in a fish tank and will still work) that works with their VR goggles and has major battery-related innovations for fast charging, wireless charging, and lasting longer than the previous models, something people really care about.
It's ho-hum in Cupertino. Guess we'll all have to wait for that new corporate campus before we get any really exciting news.