Apple releases budget $799 iPhone SE

The new iPhone SE.
The new iPhone SE. Photo credit: Supplied via Reuters

Apple Inc has released a smaller iPhone priced at $US399 (NZ$799) cutting the starting price for the company's smartphone line in a move to broaden its appeal to budget-conscious customers as the coronavirus hobbles the global economy.

The lower-cost model could also attract more consumers to Apple services, a growing driver of revenue.

US shares of Apple fell 1.1 percent on Tuesday (local time), less than the 2.8 percent decline of the S&P 500 index.

The iPhone SE, available on April 24, is the second generation of a previous budget model.

The announcement comes as the US and much of the world is reeling from the coronavirus.

Every previous iPhone has been unveiled in a polished presentation in front of fans but large events remain banned in Apple's home base of Santa Clara County, California, where public officials ordered the first lockdowns in the United States to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Apple will begin selling the new model online while its stores around the world are closed, except those within its greater China sales region.

The company will start taking orders for the phone on its website on Friday, with delivery of devices expected to start on April 24.

Apple said the iPhone SE will be available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB models in Australia.