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Apple’s Peek Performance has come and gone, leaving me wondering more about the importance of the iPhone SE line. Not only do I continue to use the 2020 version of the iPhone SE as my daily driver, but I even used the model in 2016 after its initial release. For a long time before that, there was such a huge disparity between budget and flagship phones that made me stick with the former. I’ve also detailed my experience about this exact reason on video. However, my perception slowly began to change the moment I gave the original iPhone SE a shot.
That’s because, for once, we had a smartphone that capitalized on the fundamental qualities I was always after — performance, design, and value. Given the iPhone SE’s success, it made me realize that we finally need a MacBook equivalent. Sure, we already have a competitive offering with the $999 starting price of the M1-powered MacBook Air, but Apple could certainly open itself up to more consumers with a MacBook SE.
Existing MacBook Pricing Opens Up The Possibility
Let’s look at the current MacBook line’s pricing. At the low end, you have the M1-powered MacBook Air that starts at $999, followed by the $1,299 M1 MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020 model), and then finally the $1,999 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) with the M1-Pro chip. If that’s not enough, power users can also consider the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021) with the M1-Max, which starts at $3,499.
Now, if we’re to take the price of the last generation iPhone SE at $399 and compare that with the iPhone 13 mini at $699, there’s about a 42% price difference that separates the two models. Using those calculations, Apple could theoretically come out with a MacBook SE at around the $600 mark, which makes for a compelling case because there’s still enough separation between it and the next closest entry in the MacBook Air at $999.
That’s because numerous Windows-based laptops sell at around this price point. Rather than cannibalizing sales of the MacBook Air, this MacBook SE could open up Apple’s portfolio to a broader range of consumers.
Makes More Sense if We Don’t Get a Proper Touch Mac OS
Needless to say, the design of this MacBook SE would need modifications that allow it to sell at that $600 price. I suspect it would still be a little thicker than the current MacBook Pro line, but perhaps it could be packaged in a smaller 12-inch display configuration to save cost.
More importantly, though, it’s worth pointing out that it doesn’t seem likely that Apple will be bringing a touchscreen to a Mac anytime soon. Last fall, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, John Ternus, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, said that the company already has an optimized touch experience with the iPad. Therefore, there’s no big motivation to bring one to the Mac.
Without a possibility of a touch-optimized Mac on the table, there’s still a hard divide for consumers deciding on what’s their preferred computing experience.
Broader Reach Due to More Limited Release
MacBooks don’t receive the same yearly refresh treatment as iPhones or Apple Watches. It could be around a couple of years before Apple decides that an upgrade is necessary, which is the kind of gap needed for a MacBook SE to thrive.
Of course, the price could remain unchanged during that span at around $600. Margins gained by not updating to the MacBook SE would probably be more substantial the longer Apple holds off from upgrading it, so having a limited release schedule maximizes the company’s profits with ongoing sales.
All of this simply affirms that the iPhone SE line’s success paves the way for the possibility of a MacBook SE. Having owned the last two has revealed that Apple doesn’t compromise with the user experience. Apps load incredibly fast, capture good-looking photos, and still receive the latest software, enabling the series to remain relevant.
Apple, it’s finally time.