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iPhone SE Pre-Orders Off To A Good Start In China

The country is a major target for the "budget" iPhone.

[Photo: courtesy of Apple]

Pre-orders of Apple’s new "budget" iPhone SE have exceeded 3.4 million units in China, reports CNBC. That number comes via data from the country’s major online retailers since Apple hasn’t released official pre-order numbers for the new 4-inch iPhone in any country yet. But if the data is accurate, it means the iPhone SE is off to a good (but not great) start in one of the most important markets for Apple.

Breaking down the 3.4 million preorder figure, CNBC says the gold color is the most popular with 1.3 million pre-orders, followed by the new rose gold color option with 1.2 million pre-orders, followed by the silver color option with 450,000 preorders.

Apple announced the iPhone SE at a media event on March 21. The 4-inch phone is relatively unique in this chapter of the smartphone era since most smartphones sold today have a 4.5-inch screen or larger. But during the phone’s unveiling, Apple revealed that it sold over 30 million older 4-inch iPhones in 2015 and as many as 35% of iPhone owners still have an older 4-inch iPhone, suggesting million and millions of people love the smaller size.

The iPhone SE has generally won high praise from reviewers for the device’s internal specs and speed, but Apple hopes the real draw will be its $399 price point—making it the cheapest iPhone ever.

A budget iPhone is very important to Apple expanding in emerging markets like China and India where a glut of low-cost Android handsets are the norm. The retail cost of the 16 GB iPhone SE in China is RMB3,288 (about $505) which may be still too expensive for budget smartphone buyers in the country. The 5.15-inch Xiaomi Mi 5, which has pre-orders totaling 16 million since early March, sells for just RMB1,999 (about $306).

Still, 3.4 million preorders in under a week is no small feat. And for some, Apple's bet on the smaller screen seems to be working.

"Some people say switching from a big screen to a small screen is unacceptable but I prefer small screens and only Apple has the guts to make its screens smaller," a Chinese social media user who posted a photo of herself preordering the new rose gold 64 GB iPhone SE told CNBC.

Related: History of Apple in Under 3 Minutes

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