Apple recently launched the latest version of the iPhone SE, now with 5G, and the smartphone has been divisive, to say the least. On the one hand, it's an affordable iPhone with the latest A15 Bionic chipset, so you know you'll get awesome performance. On the other hand, it launched with a design that Apple has been using since 2014 with the iPhone 6 — bezels and all.
Some may scoff at the fact that Apple is repackaging a nearly 10-year-old smartphone design in its latest affordable iPhone, but not I. In fact, I'm actually kind of tempted to buy the iPhone SE, but only because Apple refuses to give me what I want: a new and improved iPod Touch.
I'm still a fan of the iPod Touch
This isn't the first time I've written about wanting a new iPod Touch. Last year there were a few rumors circulating that Apple might release a redesigned version, but then 2021 came and went without a new iPod Touch. I was pretty disappointed, and I continue to be disappointed by every Apple event when they don't announce a new iPod Touch. That's literally all I want.
The current model of iPod Touch uses a very old chip from 2016 and an even older design based on the iPhone 5. It has a four-inch screen which these days sounds impossibly tiny. Heck, I'm not even sure if apps are even compatible with that size anymore, let alone if half the apps can even run on the aging chipset found in the current iPod Touch. I'm sure they probably can with some limitations, but I'm not willing to buy that iPod to give it a try.
The reasons why I'm still a fan of the iPod Touch remain the same. In a world where there doesn't seem to be any decent, affordable music players, particularly running Android, the iPod Touch is a great alternative and secondary device where I can store my music and some apps, offloading some of that usage from my smartphone and saving some battery. Back in my college days, I was often rocking both a smartphone and an iPod Touch. I also enjoyed it because, as a die-hard Windows phone (and eventually Android) person, it allowed me to use iOS without the commitment of buying a more expensive iPhone.
Plus, a new iPod Touch could still make money for Apple by granting access to its various services like Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, etc.
However, Apple has not updated the iPod Touch since 2019, and even that only came with a "newer" chipset, which was already a few years old. And after not receiving an update last year, frankly, I'm a little worried that Apple will never give us the newly redesigned iPod Touch of my dreams. Something with a larger display, updated chipset, maybe even a headphone jack. Enter: the iPhone SE.
The iPhone SE could be a viable iPod Touch replacement
The new iPhone SE may not be the prettiest smartphone, even by Apple standards, but that's not what affordable phones are known for. It's here to reach people who otherwise will not be able to purchase a more expensive flagship smartphone, and in these cases, looks are not a priority. Apple is milking a familiar, bezel-full design for everything it's worth, and frankly, I'm okay with that if it gives us a cheaper iPhone with flagship performance. Our Harish Jonnalagadda argues that this familiar design gives the iPhone SE an advantage over similarly priced Android phones, along with the newer chipset and great software support at an attainable price. In fact, it's almost cheap enough to consider as my iPod Touch replacement.
That may sound silly because, at the end of the day, I'm still purchasing an iPhone, but if I did buy an iPhone SE, it would be without the intent of putting a SIM card inside of it. I will keep it on Wi-Fi, download the apps and tunes I need, and go about my day with my smartphone and "new iPod Touch." However, this method could also work out for another demographic — a much younger demographic.
One of the arguments I made about why the iPod Touch is still an important device is that parents can give it to kids as a sort of training wheels smartphone. It would come with much of the bells and whistles but without the commitment and at a much lower price (compared to a typical iPhone). With the iPhone SE, you could still achieve that. $450 is not terrible, again compared to a standard iPhone, and when you believe your kid is ready for a smartphone, you can just pop in a SIM card, and they'll be connected to a modern 5G network, all without having to purchase a new device. I'm no parent, but that kind of sounds like a nice deal to me.
Bloomberg's Mark Gruman argued that Apple should even consider selling the previous iPhone SE model at a lower $199 price. This way, it would give Apple a reason to push the iPod Touch out of its products lineup (to my dismay) while still being able to make money off the services that you can still access from the device, thus making up for any missed profit margins from the cheaper hardware. That would also push the iPhone to a new low, allowing it to better compete with some of the best budget Android phones in various regions where iPhone sales may not be particularly robust.
Time to forget the iPod Touch
It seems more and more unlikely I'll ever get the iPod Touch redesign of my dreams. Who knows though, Apple might surprise us and randomly launch a new iPod Touch at some point. Until then, the new iPhone SE is looking more and more like a viable alternative to my iPod Touch woes, while being the most affordable way to join the iPhone camp for anyone not willing to fork over the dough for a new iPhone 13.
Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.
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