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iPhone 12 sales did not slow down in ramp-up to iPhone 13 launch

Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

On the day of Apple's iPhone event, new research suggests that sales of the company's iPhone 12 models remain strong amid global supply chain issues and ahead of the iPhone 13 launch.

In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, JP Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee cites new U.S. carrier data from Wave7 research through the month of August. As with previous Wave7 reports, the latest information indicates that iPhone sales aren't slowing down much.

The iPhone still accounted for around a 60% share of volumes at all three U.S. carriers through the month of August, with "surprisingly only minor slowdown heading into the September iPhone launch."

Chatterjee believes this is because of the ongoing resilience of the iPhone 12 models, as well as inventory and supply chain issues plaguing Android makers. LG's exit from the smartphone business also plays a part.

"The resilience of the iPhone 12 indicates to us a longer timeline in relation to upgrades to 5G devices relative to investor concerns of a material moderation in upgrades following the early momentum last year and early this year," Chatterjee writes.

Compared to August 2020, Wave7 and JP Morgan are seeing a much more muted moderation in month-to-month activity heading into the September event. That's likely because of the strong replacement rate associated with 5G-equipped devices, as well as consumer expectations of a more incremental upgrade on the iPhone 13.

Heading into 2022, JP Morgan does expect a moderation in replacement rate and for many consumers to switch to the iPhone 13 instead of iPhone 12 models. However, Chatterjee believes that Apple will see another record year in 2022, thanks to the iPhone 13 and a potential 5-equipped "iPhone SE 3" model.

Around 70% of carrier store representatives are seeing handset shortages at their stores because of ongoing chipset supply problems. That's a significant uptick from prior months. Apple is beginning to be affected by the problems, Chatterjee says, though to a much lesser extent than its Android rivals.

Chatterjee maintains his $180 12-month Apple price target, which is based on a 30x price-to-earnings multiple on JP Morgan's 2022 earnings estimate of $6.12.