iPhone 12 Pro Max Launch Dominates All Apple Devices Over Last Three Years

By Aman Bansal, Flurry Analyst

On October 13, 2020, in a highly anticipated launch event, Apple introduced its newest iPhone models, the iPhone 12 series. For the first time ever, Apple launched four devices that differ by size, price and features, including the first ever iPhone 12 mini at 5.4 inches. The devices launched in two waves: the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro on October 23, and the iPhone 12 mini and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max on November 13. This report evaluates the success of Apple’s iPhone 12 series launch this year. 

Apple’s last two years of device launches offered more incremental improvements, but the iPhone 12 series delivers a bigger set of improvements. All four devices include 5G connectivity—representing Apple’s first 5G-enabled devices—the A14 bionic processor, and an OLED display for improved screen resolution. The Pro models also come with a LiDAR scanner to better suit AR apps. Within this year’s line-up, cameras vary between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models. All four models come with Wide and Ultra Wide cameras, but the Pro models have a third telephoto lens, allowing for a deeper zoom into the action. 

Flurry Analytics is used in over 1 million mobile applications, providing insights from 2 billion mobile devices per month. Let’s start by reviewing how the entire iPhone 12 series performed during their respective launch weeks compared to Apple’s 2018 and 2019 iPhone X and iPhone 11 series launches.

U.S. iPhone Install Base Captured During Launch Week

In the chart above, we show the install base captured in the U.S. during launch week for the iPhone 12 series (2020), the iPhone 11 series (2019), and the iPhone XS and iPhone XR series (2010). Across all three years, lower-priced models are shown in green, midrange in blue, and premium-priced in dark blue.   

This year’s iPhone 12 series captured a combined 1.9% install base during their combined launch weeks, a big jump over each of the last two years. Last year, the iPhone 11 series launch captured 1.2% install base, and two years ago the iPhone XS and XR series captured 1.6%. Impressively, the premium-priced iPhone 12 Pro Max captured nearly 1% of the iPhone install base in its first week, outperforming any other model in our analysis across all three years. 

Given the low uptake of the iPhone 12 Mini, consumers may be signaling that a more pocket-friendly device is not as important as once thought. Spending $100 more for the iPhone Pro 12 fetches a 24% larger screen and a better battery life than the iPhone 12 mini. Also, the second-generation iPhone SE, launched earlier this year, may be cannibalizing iPhone 12 mini adoption. Also more pocket-sized, the iPhone SE starts at $399 while the iPhone 12 mini starts at $699. Spending an extra $300 does come with 5G connectivity, a slightly larger screen, this year’s A14 chip (vs last year’s A13), more durability (as shown in drop tests), a better screen, and a better camera (though reviews show similar image quality for the main lens). Either way, with more lower-priced devices in the market than ever, Apple has been increasing its market share in the U.S.

This year’s launch has been exceptionally strong for Apple, especially against the backdrop of economic uncertainty and COVID-19, which makes it more difficult for consumers to visit Apple retail stores. Helping the iPhone 12 series launch is the larger set of improvements over the iPhone X and over the last two seasons. Either way, Apple is on a strong trajectory for a blockbuster holiday season.

Let’s next look at which iPhone models have the most overall penetration in the U.S. today.

U.S. iPhone Install Base by Model

In the chart above, we list the install base for each iPhone in the U.S. during the week of the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max launch, November 13-19. The green bars represent Apple’s iPhone launches this year: the four models in the iPhone 12 series as well as the iPhone SE (2nd Gen), the blue bars represent the iPhone 11 series, and the gray bars represent all other iPhone devices in the market. 

In its first week, the iPhone 12 Pro Max captured nearly 1% share, nearly catching the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro despite their four-week head start. Combined, last year’s three devices in the iPhone 11 series make up 27% of Apple’s total iPhone install base today. Leading into the holiday season, Apple’s most popular device in the United States is the iPhone 11 with just under 15% of all active iPhones. 

While the iPhone 12 Pro Max is off to a strong start, we do anticipate that it will slow and make way for the iPhone 12. The iPhone 12 mini could also grow toward the end of the year as a holiday season gift. Generally, Apple’s premium devices tend to perform well at launch as the early adopters rush out to buy the latest and greatest Apple has to offer. Over time, however, lower-priced iPhone devices overtake the premium devices as a larger wave of late adopters ultimately upgrade. 

While iPhone XR captured the lowest install base during its launch week, it surged ahead during the 2018 holiday season and remained the most popular device going into the 2019 holiday season. The iPhone 11 posted a strong showing during its first week and less than one year later, became Apple's most popular smartphone. The question for this holiday season is whether the iPhone 12 will follow the same pattern as the iPhone XR and 11, or if the iPhone SE will be the dark horse this year similar to the iPhone XR last year. The iPhone SE is a noteworthy value since Apple hasn’t offered a brand-new device for $399 since the first generation iPhone SE in 2016. Follow us on the Flurry Blog, Twitter and LinkedIn to find out what happens this holiday season. 

iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

The Flurry blog (https://www.flurry.com/blog/) is an independent blog and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. or Samsung.