SAN RAMON, PAA – Apple has unveiled a new version of its budget-priced iPhone that’s capable of connecting to ultrafast 5G wireless networks, an upgrade that has already been available on the company’s upscale models for more than a year.

The latest iPhone SE marks the first upgrade to the bare-bones version of Apple’s most popular product in nearly two years.

In the latest sign of inflationary pressures, the new iPhone SE will sell for $US429 ($A589) – an eight per cent increase from $US399 price tag for the last version that rolled out it nearly two years ago during the early stages of the pandemic.

The new iPhone SE will be available in stores March 18.

In a pandemic precaution, Apple streamed the event from the theatre named after co-founder Steve Jobs at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.

Although the latest iPhone SE will feature a faster processor, more durable 4.7-inch screen and longer-lasting battery than the last model, its biggest selling points will likely be its compatibility with still-emerging 5G wireless networks and its relatively low price.

It’s a sharp discount from the fancier iPhone 13 line-up released in September. Consisting of four different models, the iPhone 13’s prices range from $US700 to $US1100. All of them, like the iPhone 12s released in 2020, can connect to 5G phones.

Even though 5G networks still are not widely available, the allure of faster connections turned out to be a major draw that helped spur more iPhone fans to upgrade from older models.

The iPhone 13 proved to be such a hot commodity that it helped Apple to vault past rival Samsung to be the world’s top seller of smartphones during the final three months of last year, according to the research group International Data Corp.

During Tuesday’s presentation, Apple chief executive Tim Cook boasted the company had attracted more new iPhone users than ever before since the last northern autumn, without providing specific numbers.

“We are excited for the new iPhone SE to build on this momentum,” Cook said.

Gartner smartphone analyst Tuong Nguyen said Apple did not make as much money from selling iPhone SEs as it did the pricier models, but it would give the company more opportunities to sell subscriptions to music streaming, video streaming, games and other services that have become huge money makers.

Besides the new iPhone SE, Apple also unveiled new desktop version of its personal computer called the Mac Studio that will cost $US2000 to $US4000 for the processing unit. A high-resolution 27-inch display screen designed for the Mac Studio will cost another $US1600.

The company also rolled out the latest version of its lightweight tablet, the iPad Air, for $US600. All those computing devices will be powered by Apple’s own in-house chips.