Most iPhone SE buyers are upgrading from iPhones at least 3 years old

iPhone SE 2020 Back
iPhone SE 2020 Back (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A new report claims 73% of iPhone SE buyers were rocking old iPhones before.
  • They were at least three years old.
  • These are buyers who didn't pick up iPhone 11, iPhone XR, or other handsets in recent years.

Apple launched the newly refreshed iPhone SE at the end of April 2020 and it immediately filled a price void within the iPhone lineup. Starting at $399 it was hoped the budget handset would appeal to those who were still using older iPhones – and that appears to have been right on the money.

According to research by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), a massive 73% of iPhone SE buyers in the last fiscal quarter bought it to replace an old iPhone. An iPhone that was three years or more, 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.'

That last point is an interesting one, with CIRP noting that people decided against other relatively low-cost iPhones but did go for an iPhone SE. The new model is cheaper than anything Apple has sold of late, though, which is obviously a factor here.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.