By Danielle Kaye and Nivedita Balu
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Apple Inc on Tuesday added 5G connectivity to its low-cost iPhone SE and iPad Air and introduced a faster chip for a new desktop, a culmination of Apple’s push to power its devices with microprocessors developed in-house.
The new Studio desktop starts at $3,999 with the new M1 Ultra chip. The iPad Air also has Apple’s M1 chip designed for laptops.
“Apple Silicon’s strategy is the key highlight,” said Counterpoint Research analyst Neil Shah. “Apple is scaling its portfolio of in-house semiconductor capabilities to power a broader range of higher-performing devices from the affordable iPhone SE to the highest-performing Mac Studio product.”
Apple’s Mac Pro still runs on Intel Corp microprocessors.
Apple slightly increased the price of the iPhone SE to $429 from $399 for the previous model. The new phone will start shipping on March 18th.
The iPhone SE comes with an A15 Bionic chip, which Apple says is the fastest of the competition, a 4.7-inch Retina display and a home button with Touch ID.
“This is important to our existing users who want a smaller iPhone at a great price,” said Chief Executive Tim Cook.
Nabila Popal, an analyst at IDC, said the new iPhone SE will appeal to consumers looking for a budget 5G device and it could be particularly popular amid economic uncertainty caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“A cheaper iPhone with 5G is good news for Apple, especially in these times of uncertainty,” Popal said.
But the demand for larger screens could negatively impact iPhone SE sales, Popal added. Some consumers may instead opt for older iPhone models with larger screens in the same price range.
The M1 Ultra is made by connecting two M1 Max chips and is eight times faster than M1 chips. Its first use will be in the creative, professional Mac Studio computer.
Apple will offer two versions of the Mac Studio, one with the M1 Max chip and the other with the M1 Ultra chip.
Mac Studio pricing starts at $1,999 for the version with the M1 Max chip and $3,999 for the machine loaded with the M1 Ultra.
Apple also introduced a new monitor called the Studio Display that pairs with any Mac, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, and is priced at $1,599.
Apple shares were roughly flat in afternoon trading.
The company, which has been expanding its services and other products, also said its Apple TV+ product will start showing Major League Baseball games starting Friday night. The weekly double header will be available in eight countries.
The new iPad Air gets its first refresh in two years with a new design, 5G connectivity and the M1 popular among MacBooks. The starting price stayed at $599 and it will be available from March 18th.
The new iPad Air also features a 12-megapixel front camera.
Apple also announced new iPhone 13 models in two new finishes including alpine green.
During the presentation, Cook made no mention of the conflict in Ukraine. Apple said March 1 that it had suspended all product sales in Russia in response to the Russian invasion. Russian state media RT News and Sputnik News are no longer available for download from the Apple Store outside of Russia.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.
(Reporting by Danielle Kaye in New York and Nivedita Balu and Kanika Sikka in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Ashwini Raj, Ahmed Farhatha, Shivansh Tiwary and Nilanjana Basu in Bengaluru; Editing by Karishma Singh, Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker)
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