Apple plays small-ball with new iPhone SE and iPad Pro

Apple turns 40 on April 1, and it celebrated a little early by announcing a new iPhone and a new iPad Pro, both smaller than their predecessors.

iPhone SE

The iPhone SE sports a 4-inch screen (like the iPhone 5s that it replaces), but inside it has the guts (including the 64-bit A9 chip) of an iPhone 6s. That means, according to Apple VP Greg Joswiak, the same performance as the 6s and twice that of the 5s (with a claimed 3X boost in graphics), while also improving battery life.

Joswiak rattled off a laundry list of other improvements: A better camera (with a 12 megapixel sensor and support for the Live Photos feature that turns still shots into mini-videos); 50% faster cellular data speeds; and more.

The SE will come in two configurations: 16GB and 64GB. The first is free with a two-year contract; if you choose an installment plan, it’d be $17 a month. The 64GB, meanwhile, lists for $499. Both are available for pre-order on March 24th and they go on sale the 31st.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also noted that the latest version of iOS — 9.3 — is now available as a free update.

iPad Pro

The company also introduced a new version of its iPad Pro tablet. As with the iPhone SE, this new iPad Pro packs the power of the company’s full-sized models into a smaller package.

The new iPad Pro has a 9.7-inch screen, compared to the original’s 12.9 display. That screen is just as sharp (264 pixels per inch) as its bigger sibling. Apple reps say the new iPad Pro’s screen is brighter and less reflective and produces truer colors than the iPad Air 2. And it now pulls the same nifty trick as plain paper: It adjusts its color temperature based on the ambient light. The drop in screen-size predictably produces a lighter iPad: less than a pound (compared to the 1.5 pounds of the full-size model).

But the new iPad Pro’s other specs are full-sized: Inside, it relies on the same 64-bit A9X chip as the original. Like the iPhone SE, the iPad gets a new 12 megapixel camera, which can shoot Live Photos and 4K video. The new iPad Pro also supports the popular Apple Pencil, and there’s a new, appropriately sized Smart Keyboard cover.

The base 32GB model costs $599; the 128GB and a new 256GB configuration costs $749 and $899, respectively. As with the iPhone SE, preorders for the new iPad Pros start March 24th, and they’ll ship on March 31st.

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