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Report: iPhone XR bestselling 2018 model in US, iPhone XS worst

Apple won't release the latest iPhone sales numbers, but CIRP has a good idea of the data.

Published onJanuary 24, 2019

The Apple iPhone XR as depicted on stage during the Apple Event 2018.
  • Apple, for the first time ever, did not release iPhone sales numbers during its most recent earnings call.
  • A survey conducted by CIRP gives us a good idea of what U.S. iPhone sales were like during the most recent fiscal quarter.
  • According to CIRP, the iPhone XR outsold the iPhone XS and XS Max combined, with the iPhone XS having the weakest sales.

For the first time ever, Apple didn’t release iPhone sales numbers during its most recent quarterly earnings call. However, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) is estimating its own data from a survey of iPhone buyers.

According to CIRP, the United States loves the iPhone XR. In fact, U.S. residents love it so much that CIRP concludes it was the best-selling iPhone of the first fiscal quarter of 2019 (roughly October 2018 through February 2019). The iPhone XR accounted for a whopping 39 percent of iPhone sales amongst survey takers during this period.

This is remarkable when you take into account that the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max had a head start on the iPhone XR — the XS/XS Max landed on September 21, 2018, while the iPhone XR landed on October 26, 2018.

The iPhone XR is much less expensive than the iPhone XS and XS Max due to cheaper build materials and some downgraded hardware, but still features a large display and the latest A12 chipset.

As for the premium iPhone XS and the ultra-premium iPhone XS Max, things didn’t go as well. The two models combined accounted for 26 percent of U.S. iPhone sales amongst survey takers during the first fiscal quarter, with the iPhone XS Max outselling the iPhone XS by a 2:1 ratio.

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The Apple iPhone XS Max.

What does that mean? It could mean that most iPhone buyers want bigger phones, as both the XR and the XS Max fall squarely into the “phablet” category. It could also mean that most iPhone buyers don’t care about size but want a cheaper device — which they get with the XR — and those who can afford a more expensive model overwhelmingly opt for the bigger device.

CIRP believes that storage capacity could have something to do with the results as well. According to its research, an increased number of survey takers in 2018 opted to add more storage than the baseline model offers. This could mean that iPhone buyers value internal storage more than anything else, which would also explain the iPhone XR’s popularity: since it comes in a 256GB model, why pay for an iPhone XS or XS Max when you can get the same amount of space for less money in the XR?

Apple is scheduled to have its next quarterly earnings call on January 29 where it may — or may not — reveal actual iPhone sales numbers. You can read the full results of CIRP’s research here.

NEXT: Yes, Apple, the slowing smartphone market affects you, too

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