CIRP: iPhone 12 Pro Max was the best selling iPhone in Q3 as buyers avoid ‘smaller, older models’

Following last month’s launch of the iPhone 13 lineup, new data from analysts at Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) shows that trends suggest iPhone buyers are “replacing phones more quickly,” despite more iterative year-over-year improvements.

The data covers calendar Q3 2021, which includes only two days of availability for the iPhone 13 lineup. Nonetheless, CIRP says that the models still captured “meaningful sales.”

For the quarter, CIRP data shows that the iPhone 12 Pro Max was the best-selling model as “buyers avoided smaller, older models,” according to the report. As for the iPhone 13 lineup, CIRP’s early data shows that the “iPhone 13 models did as well as previous launches.”

According to the data, the iPhone 13 models accounted for 16% of sales during the quarter, despite only being available for two days of the quarter. The iPhone 11 also remained a strong seller, making up 21% of sales almost two years after its launch. The iPhone 12 Pro Max had the largest share of any single model, with 27%. iPhone XR, SE, and iPhone 12 mini had the smallest share, each at 4%.

The CIRP research also suggests that buyers are replacing their iPhones more quickly, with fewer buyers reporting that their previous phone was three years or older. During the quarter, 42% of buyers had their previous phone for 2 years or less. In contrast, in the twelve months ending with the September 2020 quarter, 37% of buyers had their previous phone for 2 years or less.

“We see a trend toward iPhone buyers replacing phones more quickly,” said Mike Levin, CIRP Partner and Co-Founder. “For the second straight quarter, fewer buyers report their previous phone as three years old or more. Buyers also report replacing more iPhone 11 models than in previous quarters. A year ago, two-thirds of buyers replaced iPhone 7 or older models on the market at least three years. This quarter, one-quarter of buyers replaced iPhone 11 models, which are at most two years old. It seems Apple has succeeded in moving much of the US installed base to much newer models.”

Other highlights from the report include:

  • The most expensive models continued to capture a high share of total sales, along with the almost two-year-old lower-priced iPhone 11
  • With only two days of availability in the quarter, the new iPhone 13 models still generated meaningful sales
  • Consumers traded-in newer phones, as the age of their old phone decreased materially for the first time in four years
  • Even as new iPhone 11 sales continued to be strong, consumers also traded in iPhone 11 models at a greater rate compared to earlier years.

Apple is set to report its quarterly earnings on October 28. As always, it’s important to remember that the company does not disclose unit sales by product category.

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