Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen: Apple iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7-inch small but better value

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Greg Joswiak, vice president of iOS, iPad and iPhone product marketing, announces the new iPhone SE at Apple headquarters yesterday. Photo / AP
Greg Joswiak, vice president of iOS, iPad and iPhone product marketing, announces the new iPhone SE at Apple headquarters yesterday. Photo / AP

Yesterday's Apple launch of the new iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7-inch surprised nobody; if anything it was a a bit thin with the new stuff, and Apple probably could've got more out of just quietly sneaking out the new devices instead of holding a traditional song and dance event.

But OK, going smaller instead of larger is an interesting move and to be fair, the iPhone 5s was well overdue for retirement. If you want a smaller smartphone from Apple, the iPhone SE should fit the bill nicely with updated, faster hardware, and better cameras.

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In fact, you get newer and better hardware than the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with the SE in almost every area. Not everywhere though: the display on the iPhone SE only has 800:1 contrast, and not 1,300 and 1,400:1 as in the iPhone 6 Plus and 6. Nor does it have the dual-domain pixels feature for wider viewing angles, or the 3D Touch long-press feature for the screen.

Those are nice to have features, but I'd forego them for a better camera especially.

The iPhone SE costs $949 for the 64 gigabyte storage model (I'm going to ignore the 16GB devices). An iPhone 6 and 6s with 64GB costs $250 and $450 more, respectively. Based on that, I'd say the SE is a better deal than the 6 and 6s, if the smaller four-inch display suits you.

If you want a smaller smartphone, the iPhone SE should fit the bill nicely with updated, faster hardware, and better cameras.

Likewise, unless you need the A4-sized display of the iPad Pro 12.9-inch to draw on for example, the new and cheaper 9.7-inch tablet offers everything its predecessor has and then some.

For less money, you get the same storage (up to 256GB), a processor and graphics that are almost as fast, and a new wide colour gamut True Tone display.

As an added bonus, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is much lighter at 437/444 grams, the same as the iPad Air. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro weighs 713 to 723 grams, depending on if you get the Wi-Fi only or the Wi-Fi and cellular version.

Also, the 9.7-inch tablet gets the much improved cameras from the iPhone 6s, better LTE 4G mobile broadband support, and Apple's embedded SIM that I'm curious about, but which doesn't yet seem to be supported in New Zealand.

It remains to be seen if the smaller, 27.5 Watt hour battery in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro lasts as long as the 38.5Wh power source in the 12.9-inch model. Apple rates both as having the same 9 to 10 hours battery life for mixed usage.

In comparison, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro costs $350 more at every level and I'm struggling to see the value there.

Apple wants $1,049 (Wi-Fi only) for the iPad Pro 9.7-inch, with a hefty $220 premium for LTE support; the 128GB models go for $1,329 and 256GB for $1,599; again, add $220 for LTE broadband to those prices.

In comparison, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro costs $350 more at every level and I'm struggling to see the value there.

Postponed perhaps for later this year was a refresh of the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, to feature new Intel processors. Apple seems confident that Microsoft screwed the pooch so badly with Windows 8 and 10 that customers would rather buy an iPad Pro, or be content with the less than fresh hardware in the MacBook range, than switch sides.

As a result, the Mac laptops get a very leisurely update cycle, which is a shame: the extremely useful, skinny, lightweight MacBook is my main work device and I would love to see a Pro version of that appear.

A MacBook with a bit more grunt, to borrow Apple marketing boss Phil Schiller's favourite word, would be just dandy. Slot one in for June or July, Apple?

Update: Turns out that iPad Pro 9.7-inch has just 2GB of system memory, and not 4GB like the 12.9-inch model. Furthermore, the smaller iPad Pro only supports the substantially slower USB 2.0 connector standard whereas the original iPad Pro is USB 3.0 compatible.

The smaller amount of system memory will make a performance and responsiveness difference, but why on earth did Apple hobble the iPad Pro 9.7-inch with USB 2.0, which will make accessing large picture and image files very slow compared to USB 3.0?

WATCH: Apple releases new iPhone, iPad -

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- NZ Herald

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Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen is a technology journalist and writer living in Auckland. Apart from contributing to the New Zealand Herald over the years, he has written for the Guardian, Wired, PC World, Computerworld and ITnews Australia, covering networking, hardware, software, enterprise IT as well as the business and social aspects of computing. A firm believer in the principle that trying stuff out makes you understand things better, he spends way too much time wondering why things just don’t work.

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