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What the Apple iPhone SE Announcement Means for You

March 21, 2016
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Apple product announcements never fail to cause a stir, and Monday’s unveiling of the iPhone SE — along with updates and price drops for some of its other wares, including the Apple Watch and iPad Pro — was no exception.

But after the excitement dies down, we wonder what the latest changes will mean for consumers. We’ve broken down Apple’s announcement to make it easier to understand what all the new changes mean for you and your pocketbook.

iPhone SE

The company unveiled a new iPhone to its lineup: the iPhone SE. It’s a 4-inch phone that looks like the iPhone 5S but has the same processing and graphics performance as the 6S. For comparison, the 6S has a 4.7-inch screen.

The new device offers many of the popular iPhone 6S features packaged in a smaller design. These include Apple Pay, Siri functionality, a 12-megapixel iSight camera, focus pixels, true tone flash, panorama pictures, live photos, 4K video and a front-facing FaceTime HD camera.

And just like the iPhone 6S, it will come in a rose gold finish, in addition to space gray, silver and gold.

What it means for you: If you’re a first-time iPhone buyer, or if you just prefer smaller phones, the iPhone SE provides a great Apple entry point for you. The phone will be available March 31 (orders begin March 24) for a starting price of $399. That’s the most affordable introductory price ever for an iPhone.

» MORE: Best cell phone plans

The iPhone 7 is expected to be announced in the fall, so look for potential price drops then.

Apple Watch

Apple hinted at a spring lineup of new watch bands in the title of its special announcement — “Let us loop you in” — and the event didn’t disappoint.

While there’s no Apple Watch 2 just yet, Apple debuted an assortment of new Apple Watch bands for its original smartwatch, including new colors of the popular sport and leather bands, a black Milanese loop band and a variety of nylon woven bands.

What it means for you: If you want to give your Apple Watch a new look, you can now outfit it with a new band. These bands are available now from Apple. The sport and woven nylon bands cost $49 each, and the Milanese loop starts at $149.

But more importantly, the Apple Watch itself is now more affordable than it’s ever been. Beginning immediately, the Apple Watch starts at $299 (it was $349 previously), making now the time to buy. A year after it was first released, consumers can get an impressive deal on the watch.

Want an even better price? We spotted lower prices at Best Buy, where some Apple Watch Sport models are on sale for $249.

Just note that the Apple Watch 2 is expected to come out in the fall, so if you can wait until then, the original Apple Watch price might drop even further.

» MORE: Microsoft Band 2 vs. Apple Watch Sport

iPad Pro

In September, Apple unveiled the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and now the company is debuting a 9.7-inch version of the popular tablet.

The latest iPad Pro includes similar features to the larger iPad Pro in a more affordable package. Features include an adjustable true tone display, an A9X processor, a 12-megapixel camera, live photos and compatibility with the Apple Pencil.

What it means for you: You can order the new iPad Pro beginning March 24, and it ships March 31. The 32GB version costs $599, the 128GB version $749, and the 256GB version $899. While smaller than the 12.9-inch version, this new iPad Pro is $200 more affordable than its larger counterpart, which starts at $799.

The smaller iPad Pro is a great addition to the lineup, but if you’re a casual user and don’t need all that processing power, you might be better off with one of the less-expensive iPads, like the iPad Air 2 or the iPad Mini.

» MORE: iPad Pro vs. iPad Air 2

Apple TV

Apple didn’t announce a new Apple TV, but it did announce an update to its operating system. With tvOS 9.2, users will be able to speak to their device to search for games and shows, rather than typing. It even works for usernames and passwords.

What it means for you: If you have a fourth-generation Apple TV, which was released in November, this update is a no-brainer. It’s free and is available for download.

If you don’t yet own an Apple TV, which is priced starting at $149, the updated capabilities might make now the right time. And if you don’t care about the new features, the older third-generation Apple TV is still a great product and costs $69.

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Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @courtneynerd.