Apple Unveils 4-Inch iPhone SE and a More Powerful iPad Pro

Could this be the future of personal computing?

Apple is downsizing the iPhone and upgrading the iPad, possibly signaling the end of the short-lived "phablet" era.

During its event today at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., the company officially unveiled a 4-inch iPhone called the iPhone SE. Its latest phone has twice as much speed as the iPhone 5S—the last phone that came in the 4-inch realm—and comes with a powerful camera that shoots 4K video, and is compatible with Apple Pay via its NFC chip. The phone also includes improved battery life and faster Wi-Fi connectivity. (The smaller phone could have mixed implications for advertisers, which increasingly rely on mobile screens for their messaging.)

"Whether this is your first iPhone or you just love smaller iPhones, we think you're going to love it," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vp for iPod, iPhone, and iOS product marketing.

Along with the iPhone SE, Apple also announced the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The tablet, which comes with a similar camera to that of the iPhone SE, comes with the option of 256 GB of storage for the first time. Phil Schiller, Apple's svp for worldwide marketing, touted its productivity and creativity capabilities with the Apple Pencil (aka stylus). He said there are now more than 1 million apps in the Apple store designed for the iPad.

After Schiller's presentation, a short video explaining more about the iPad played, possibly hinting at the upstaged role the tablet will play in Apple's product suite.

"It's where we believe personal computing is going," the narrator said.

Cook also addressed the company's ongoing battle with the FBI over encryption. He said Apple didn't expect to be in its position, but "we owe it" to Apple customers and U.S. citizens to fight for privacy.

"We will not shrink from this responsibility," Cook said.

Lastly, today is possibly one of the last major product announcement events Apple will have in its current headquarters. Before leaving the stage, Cook recapped the updates (which included new bands for the Apple Watch) and announced that the company will move into its new digs next year.

"We're always pushing forward in innovation and doing things that positively affect many people," he said.