Cupertino: Apple Inc on Monday unveiled a smaller, cheaper iPhone aimed at new buyers, especially in emerging markets and possibly China, the world`s biggest buyer of smartphones, as the technology company looks to reverse a decline in worldwide sales of its most important product.
The new device, called the iPhone SE, has a 4-inch (10-cm) screen and starts at a price of $399. It represents Apple`s second bid for the crowded mid-tier market after an unsuccessful foray three years ago.
That is well below the starting price tag of $649 for the current top iPhone model without a contract, which is beyond the reach of many. The new phone, with Apple`s vaunted A9 chip, doubles the speed of Apple`s previous attempt at an entry-level phone, the 5s, launched in 2013. It also runs Apple Pay and comes in the wildly popular rose gold color.
Shares of Apple were down about half a percent at $105.41 in early afternoon trade.
The more compact phone design comes after its expanded the size of the screens in its high-end iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phones in 2014 to as large as 5.5 inches. That was broadly seen as an attempt to match rival Samsung Electronics with its large-screen Galaxy phones.
Before the launch at Apple`s leafy Cupertino, California headquarters, Chief Executive Tim Cook defended the company`s refusal to comply with a U.S. court order to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the shooters in a December attack in San Bernardino, California.
Apple has a responsibility to protect customers` data and privacy, Cook said, adding that Apple "will not shrink from that responsibility." His statement was greeted by applause from the audience.
The tech company`s dispute with the U.S. government has become a lightning rod for a broader debate on data privacy in the United States. The company is set to square off against the U.S. government at a court hearing on Tuesday, likely the first round in a long legal fight to avoid being forced to decrypt the iPhone.