Will iPhone SEs sell in the UAE?

iPhone SE smartphone

Analysts expect the iPhone SE to not do as well in the UAE as Apple’s flagship phones because of its smaller size, reports Gulf News.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a niche to be filled by the four-inch SE, which launches tomorrow, but demand here is for screen sizes that are larger than five inches.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), 53 per cent of all smartphones sold in the UAE last year were five inches and larger, an increase from just 36 per cent in 2014. The iPhone 6S has a screen size of 4.7 inches while the iPhone 6S Plus has a 5.5-inch screen.

Nabila Popal, Research Manager for IDC’s Mobile Phone Tracker in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, says Apple’s SE will have to compete against the company’s own refurbished, certified and pre-owned 5S and even iPhone 6.

“It is not going to make waves but it will cater to a certain segment who wants a new iPhone but cannot afford the premium price of its flagship models. Still I don’t expect it to do too well as I think it is priced too high. The demand in the UAE and Gulf is for bigger screens.”

Popal says middle-income consumers are buying bigger screens but cheaper Android devices.

She predicts demand will still be for the older model of iPhone – iPhone 6 – rather than iPhone SE.

That doesn’t mean smaller phones don’t sell. Apple recently said it sold 30 million four-inch iPhones – out of total 231 million units globally – last year. According to a report from CNBC, pre-orders of the iPhone SE in China hit around 3.4 million units. On March 24, Apple began taking pre-orders for its latest device, which has been described as having the heart of iPhone 6S and the body of 5S.

Shonam Khaitan, Regional Director for Electronics at Souq.com, says iPhone SE targets a very niche set of customers who focus on smaller-sized devices.

“We saw a significant traction among these customers, and within its competitors the product was quickly able to take the top slot. In fact we saw twice the numbers that we saw with iPhone 5S when it was launched.”

Comparing iPhone SE with iPhone 6s will not be a “right comparison” as they cater to different target segments and have their own strengths and weaknesses.

“We have used very specific and direct marketing tactics to reach out to current iPhone 5/5S/5C and 4S buyers to upgrade to iPhone SE,”  Khaitan says. “A large number of iPhone SE buyers have belonged to this group and we have seen very high conversions. We expect the traction to remain strong in the near future as well.”

Nadeem Khanzadah, Head of OmniChannel Retail at Jumbo Group, also doesn’t see the SE selling well based on the sales he has seen so far. He says pre-launch orders are “not that great”, which gives an indication of the demand for smaller screens. “If the 64GB version is priced at around Dh1,499, then they can compete with places like India and China where owning an iPhone brand is a luxury.”

Neelesh Bhatnagar, Chief Executive Officer of Emax, says the new models may be attrative to home users, but that business users prefer big screens. “We are not going to play around with the prices due to the launch but if Apple reduces the prices of older devices, then we will. Our strategy is to stick to Apple’s online prices.”