Nothing Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced at its March 21 media event surprised the press in attendance or the larger audience of consumers who watched online.

But just because the company didn't offer up anything revolutionary doesn't mean its announcements weren't important. In fact, it could be argued that the decision to introduce a new, higher-powered 4-inch iPhone could bring Apple new business not only in the United States, but also in developing markets all around the world.

Similarly, offering a smaller iPad Pro isn't as cool as introducing a flying car or smart glasses that can make a latte, but it's a direct shot at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), a rival that's made inroads into the hybrid tablet market with its Surface.

The iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro won't change the world, but they may have a material impact on Apple's bottom line.

What you need to know about iPhone SE
One of the biggest problems Apple has is that its phones have become so good, people hold on to them longer. That's a problem exacerbated by the four major wireless carriers' ending the phone subsidy model. Because people either must buy their phone up front or finance its full price, there's an incentive to hold on to them longer.

Apple's decision to update its 4-inch model should give people incentive to upgrade while keeping them away from rivals, according to a statement from RBC analyst Amit Daryanani, as reported by Bloomberg.

"The replacement cycle for iPhones has stretched to 27 months," compared with the 23 months of two years ago, he wrote. The new handset will "ensure that consumers who have a three-year-old 5S or 5C don't switch to Android for lack of new iPhone products."

In most respects, the SE has specs that rival the top-of-the-line 6s and 6s Plus, including the same A9 chip with an embedded M9 motion co-processor. That results in a phone that has the "same incredible graphics performance as the 6S, which is three times faster than the 5S," which it replaces, said Apple's Greg Joswiak during the event.  

iPhone SE. Source: Apple.

The SE also has improved front and rear cameras, as well as better battery life than the 5s. It will be Apple Pay compatible, has a Retina display, and can record 4K video. It weighs just under 4 ounces and is 4.87 inches long by 2.31 inches wide, along with being only 0.3 inches thick.

At $399 for the 16GB model, iPhone SE is being introduced at the lowest price ever for an Apple Phone. The company has already begun taking pre-orders, and the phone will ship starting March 31. Apple will also be offering financing on the phone, starting at $17 a month for the basic versions, with the various phone carriers also offering financing on varying terms.

In addition to the 16GB version, the company is selling a 64GB model for $499. All versions of the phone can be ordered in silver, gold, space gray, and rose gold finishes. 

What you need to know about the 9.7-inch iPad Pro
If the original iPad Pro was meant to be answer to Microsoft's Surface, then the new, smaller version continues taking the fight to Apple's longtime rival.
"There's a second group of people we'd love to reach with this new iPad Pro: Windows Users," Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said during the media event. "The majority of people coming to iPad Pro come from Windows."

iPad Pro. Source: Apple.

Basically, the latest iPad Pro simply takes the company's first true hybrid tablet/laptop and shrinks it down to the size of a traditional iPad. The specs between the bigger Pro and its smaller sibling aren't exactly the same, but the key to both, according to Apple's website, is their display.

"It's how you interact using Multi-Touch, and how you view content in spectacular detail," the company wrote. "So we created our most vivid Retina display ever. The 12.9‑inch iPad Pro has the highest resolution of any iOS device. And the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro screen -- our most advanced display -- is the brightest and least reflective in the world."

Both iPad Pros offer four speakers and Apple Pencil compatibility and are powered by the 64-bit A9X chip. For the smaller model, Apple has created an new add-on keyboard sized for the new device.

Like iPhone SE, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro can already be pre-ordered, and it begins shipping March 31. It starts at $599 for the 32GB model, with Wi-Fi (the keyboard is sold separately) climbing to $729 for the same storage with cellular capabilities. In addition, 128GB and 256GB models are available in both versions.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.