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Apple Downsizes iPhone, iPad Pro

Apple unveiled a 4-inch companion to the 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhone6s and 6s Plus, launched a smaller version of the two-in-one iPad Pro, at 9.7 inches with optional detachable keyboard, and reduced the opening price of the Apple Watch to $299 from $349.

The company also announced the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, as well as the 12.9-inch Pro launched six months ago, will come in 256GB versions, the most storage ever for an iPad.

With the iPhone se launch, the company is replacing the three-generation-old 4-inch iPhone 5s released in 2013. The company hopes to appeal to the legions of iPhone users who don’t want to trade up to larger iPhones but want the same higher power processor and most of the new features of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in a smaller package.

With the launch of a second detachable iPad, the company hopes to compete with growing demand for two-in-one tablets, which have been popularized by Windows 10 models.

The iPhone launch also serves another purpose: In breaking with its previous strategy of waiting until the fall to launch new iPhones, Apple hopes to stimulate iPhone sales during the next few quarters when sales traditionally trend down on a quarter-over-quarter basis as consumers wait for the fall launches. The company also hopes to boost iPhone sales following a first quarter whose iPhone volume was forecast by the company to fall year-over-year. That would mark the first-ever year-over-year decline of quarterly iPhone sales.

Besides a new opening price for the Watch, the company also unveiled new Watch bands in new materials and new colors.

Here are the product details:

iPhone se: The aluminum-and-glass se, available March 21 in the U.S., is priced at $399 for the 16GB model without contract and $499 for the 64GB version. The 16GB version will be free with two-year contract.

They will join the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s and 5.5-inch 6s Plus, launched last year to follow the 2014 launch of the company’s first big-screen phones, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch 6 Plus.

The new se packs the performance and most features of the 6s and 6s Plus into a smaller package.  Compared to the iPhone 5s that it replaces, it steps up to a 64-bit A9 processor compared to three-generations-old 64-bit A7, and it adds NFC, Apple Pay, Live Photos, Bluetooth 4.2, VoLTE (Voice-over-LTE), dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO, main-camera 4K video capture from 1080p on the main camera, Touch ID fingerprint detection, more LTE bands, and 150Mbps LTE, delivering 50 percent faster download speeds compared to the 5c.

Company executives did not mention whether the phone features 3D Touch, available on the 6s and 6s Plus to recognizes different levels of finger pressure to launch different functions. Pressing lightly, for example, lets users peek at a specific email message without opening it. A harder press opens the email. Also with a light press, users can preview a web page in a link that’s included in a message, then launch the browser with a harder press.

The cameras go to 12 megapixels and 5 megapixels, from 8 and 1.2, with up to 240 fps slow-motion video capture compared to 120fps.

Carryover features include Touch ID fingerprint identification to unlock the phone and pay for apps and music downloads, Wi-Fi calling, and Siri.

The 5s had been selling for $450 without contract on Apple’s website.

More than 30 million 4-inch iPhones were sold last year, the company said.

With iOS 9.3, the phone adds Night Shift to automatically reduce blue-light emissions in the evening to help people sleep better at night after using the device. CarPlay gets upgraded to add the ability to find gas stations, restaurants and the like from the phone’s map app.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro with optional Pencil and detachable keyboard

iPad Pro: The new iPad Pro is a 9.7-inch model like the iPad Air 2, shipping since late 2014, but like the detachable 12.9-inch iPad Pro that shipped last November, it comes with optional detachable keyboard and optional sensor-equipped Apple Pencil, which features tilt and pressure sensitivity. The keyboard is magnetically attached and features proprietary port to carry data and power.

The size is the company’s most popular tablet size, said Apple marketing SVP Philip Schiller, because it’s the right size for doing work and still light enough to carry around. He positioned it as a PC replacement like the larger Pro.

The new model with 2048 by 1536 display will be available March 31 in three Wi-Fi versions and three cellular versions. The Wi-Fi versions are 32GB for $599, 128GB for $749, and $899 for 256GB. The cellular versions are priced at $729, $879, and $1,049 for the 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB versions, respectively.

Like the iPad Pro, the new tablet offers features and capabilities available in the 12.9-inch Pro but not in the older iPad Air 2, including step-up 64-bit A9X processor, which is 1.8 times faster than the Air 2’s A8X processor; M9 instead of M8 motion coprocessor; Live Photos, 4 by 3 touchscreen; and four speakers, enabling stereo sound when the tablet is held horizontally or vertically.

The screen steps up from the iPad Air 2 by becoming 40 percent less reflective, 25 percent brighter at 500 nits to become the brightest tablet available, and 25 percent wider color gamut to hit the DCI P3 spec.

Compared to the bigger iPad and the Air2, the new iPad becomes the first Apple device with a TrueTone display that measures the color temperature of ambient light to improve color accuracy in different viewing environments.

Unlike the new iPhone and iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, it lacks 3D Touch.

In a step up from both the Air 2 and 12.9-inch Pro, the new Pro steps up to 4K video capture and to 12- and 5-megapixel cameras from the other Pro’s 8- and 1.2-megapixel cameras.

Like the iPad Air 2 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the new Pro features Apple Pay, NFC, Touch ID fingerprint identification, and dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with MIMO. It also features 23 LTE bands, up from the other Pro’s 20 bands.

The metal chassis will be available in four colors, up from three for the 12.9-inch Pro.

256GB 12.9-inch Pro: Also announced were 256GB versions of the 12.9-inch Pro. A 256GB version with Wi-Fi will be available at $1,099, with the cellular version going for $1,229. They will join the 12.9-inch 32GB and 128GB Pros with Wi-Fi at $799 and $949 and the $1,078 128GB Pro with 3G and 4G LTE.

Repricing: With the launches, the iPad mini gets repriced down to an opening $269, while the Air 2 goes to a starting price of $399 from $499.

Data curated by SpecOut

Here’s what else the company talked up:

Apple TV: The streaming set-top box with downloadable apps gets a free update that, among other things, lets users dictate user names and passwords by voice. It also adds folders to organize apps and the home screen, and it adds the use of Siri to request apps.

Eco-friendly, privacy-protecting Apple: CEO Tim Cook used the opportunity at his Cupertino, Calif., launch event to emphasize that Apple “will not shrink” from its “responsibility” to help customers protect their data and privacy.

Executive Lisa Jackson stressed the company’s eco-consciousness by pointing out that 93 percent of its facilities, including stores, run on renewable energy, that 99 percent of its packaging is recycled, and the “vast majority” of phones that it gets back, including those from its upgrade and trade-in programs,  are reused.

The company also said it extracts and reuses cobalt, lithium gold, silver, platinum and copper from returned phones.

CareKit: The company plans April availability of CareKit software that lets medical institutions develop apps that will help post-operative patients manage their care.

Data curated by SpecOut