The new iPhone SE 2020 is successful in its intended role, says Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), based on its latest buyer survey.

Apple wanted the iPhone SE to persuade owners of older iPhones to upgrade, without impacting too much on sales of more expensive models — and purchase data for the last fiscal quarter suggests that it has succeeded in this aim…

iPhone SE accounted for a decent share at 19% [of all iPhone sales], even though it was available for only a portion of the quarter. At $399 for the base model, SE is priced well below the year-old XR, and very successfully replaces the almost three-year-old iPhone 8 models at the entry price point.

For iPhone SE, CIRP determined that Apple customers were more likely to upgrade from another iPhone, generally a significantly older model.

The data showed that some 73% of those buying an iPhone SE were upgrading from a model more than four years old.

‘Every few years Apple comes out with a new low-priced iPhone, with up-to-date features, to sweep up the customers using the oldest iPhones,’ said Mike Levin, CIRP partner and cofounder. ‘iPhone SE seems to have reached this specific segment of long-time iPhone users.’

‘Even though operating system switching has diminished in recent years, even more SE buyers came from within the iOS installed base compared to buyers for other iPhone models. And, in the quarter, SE buyers had really old phones, with almost three-quarters having an iPhone that was three years old or more. So, they upgraded from iPhone 5, 6, or 7 models, which meant these users really waited awhile to buy a new phone.’

‘These are users who evidently resisted upgrading to newer phones at more attractive price points, such as iPhone 11, last year’s iPhone XR, and even the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which launched in 2017, as its prices declined over the years.’

It appeared to offer little threat to the iPhone 11, which accounted for the majority of sales in the April to June timeframe.

‘The Fall 2019 iPhone 11 and 11 Pro models remain the most popular, combining for around two-thirds of sales,’ said Josh Lowitz, CIRP partner and cofounder.

‘Comparison again are tricky, with the launch of iPhone SE at the end of April 2020. A year ago, iPhone XR took almost half of sales in the quarter. This year, sales were divided among more diverse models, with even the lowest-priced and ultimately retired iPhone 8 and 8 Plus having 8% of sales. At the end of this past quarter, Apple has a simpler lineup than in the past, with just the XR, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, and new SE.’

Macworld argued in May that the iPhone SE was better value “per dollar” than the iPhone 11, but noted that the camera doesn’t compare.

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