Apple 4-inch iPhone SE unveiled for $399

Phone will replace similar-sized model released in 2013.


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Apple is rolling out a fancier 4-inch iPhone to replace a similar-sized model released in 2013.

The iPhone SE will rely on the same processor and have many other features in the larger 4.7-inch iPhone 6S, which came out six months ago. That's something that was missing from Apple's older 4-inch iPhone 5S.

The new iPhone comes as sales taper off for the device that generates the bulk of Apple's profits. Some iPhone users prefer the smaller size and have resisted upgrading to the larger models that Apple has shifted to in recent years to compete against Samsung.

Like the iPhone 6S, the iPhone SE will be able to take pictures at 12 megapixels. By comparison, the iPhone 5S's camera is limited to 8 megapixels.

The iPhone SE will also be equipped with a longer-lasting battery than the iPhone 5S and have faster wireless connections. It will also work with Apple Pay, the company's digital wallet.

Prices for the new iPhone will start at $399 for a model with 16 gigabits of storage. That's less than the $450 price tag for the 5S. It will be free if customers commit to a two-year contract with their wireless carrier, as was the case with the 5S.

Orders for the iPhone SE will start Thursday. The phone will begin shipping March 31 in the U.S. and several other countries.