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Apple’s new iPhone SE 3 is sold out, which shouldn’t be a surprise

Published Mar 14th, 2022 4:07PM EDT
iPhone SE 3 color options.
Image: Apple Inc.

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Contrary to rumors and expectations, the iPhone SE 3 costs $429, or $30 more than its predecessor. Despite that, the iPhone SE 3 sold out three days after preorders opened. That might sound surprising considering that the iPhone SE 3 looks just like the iPhone 8 that Apple released all the way back in 2017. And the iPhone 8 was basically a recycled iPhone 6 from 2014 in terms of design.

Yet it all makes perfect sense. And in the grand scheme of things, the iPhone SE 3 will be another big success for Apple.

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Why is the iPhone SE so special?

As I’ve explained in the past, the iPhone SE is a wolf in sheep’s clothing for Android vendors. The 2020 iPhone SE 2 featured iPhone 11 hardware inside an iPhone 8 body. The dated design is what kept it from “killing” mid-range phones from the competition. The only advantage of a phone like the Galaxy A52 (and its predecessors) over the iPhone SE 2 is the larger screen.

Fast-forward to the iPhone SE 3, and we’re looking at iPhone 13 specs inside an iPhone 8 body. That means 5G support is included too. That A15 Bionic chip wipes the floor with every Android phone, which means the iPhone SE 3 is faster than the Galaxy S22 and any other Android flagship put there.

The only “problem” with this mid-range phone is its “traditional” smartphone design — ie huge bezels. But that’s not an issue for iPhone fans who want a Touch ID sensor inside the phone.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising to see the iPhone SE 3 sold out at Apple after three days of preorders. It might not be as fast as the iPhone 14 that’ll launch this fall. Those sell out immediately after preorders start since they bring a lot more upgrades than the iPhone SE 3. But the SE 3’s sales performance is still impressive

iPhone SE 3 specs and features
iPhone SE 3 specs and features. Image source: Apple Inc.

Impressive iPhone SE sales

A fresh report from Asia just revealed that Apple’s biggest supplier will pause production in Shenzhen, as China is instituting new lockdowns to reduce COVID-19 transmission. While the lockdowns do not impact the regions where Foxconn assembles the iPhone, the production delays can still impact Apple’s inventory. 

One could speculate the iPhone 3 SE is sold out because Apple isn’t making as many units as, say, the iPhone 13. The shipment of certain parts from Shenzhen-based suppliers could lead to production issues for various products.

But that’s not why the iPhone SE 3 sold out in the US. Demand for the handset is genuine. That’s why Apple keeps making a type of device that no Android vendors dare compete with. And we have independent evidence to support that idea.

Impressive 2020 figures

Consider the following smartphone sales stats from Omdia. They’re from February 2021. According to the firm’s estimates, Apple sold 24.2 million iPhone SE 2 units in 2020.

iPhone vs. Galaxy Sales
Omdia’s smartphone sales rankings for 2020 and 2019. Image source: Omdia via WCCFTech

That’s all the more impressive considering that was the first year of the pandemic, and the iPhone SE 2 announcement happened on April 15th. Therefore, Apple sold more than 24 million units in about seven months.

Is that enough to prove the iPhone SE 3 sold out because there’s a massive demand for it? Well, we have more figures.

2021 sales are almost as good

The handset continue to sell very well in 2021. The iPhone SE 2 was so popular with consumers that it’s one of Apple’s seven iPhone models in Counterpoint’s Top 10 for 2021. With a 1.6% share, it even outsold the iPhone 13 Pro Max. And it outsold every version of the Galaxy S21, which didn’t even make the list.

Counterpoint's Global Top 10 Best-selling Smartphones, 2021
Counterpoint’s Global Top 10 Best-selling Smartphones, 2021. Image source: Counterpoint Research

That 1.6% amounts to 22.24 million units, according to some quick back-of-the-envelope math. The figure is based on a different Counterpoint research note that said smartphone sales rose to 1.39 billion in 2021.

Selling more than 22 million iPhone SE units in 12 months isn’t as impressive in selling over 24 million units in 7 months. But, again, the iPhone SE outsold each of Samsung’s three Galaxy S21 models last year.

iPhone SE 3 sold out, now what?

Needless to say, the iPhone SE 3’s feat is impressive. You’ll have to wait until late March at the soonest to get your iPhone SE 3 ordered delivered now that Apple has sold out the initial batch. The alternative is choosing in-store pick-up for your preorder. That’s the only way to get the iPhone SE 3 on release date.

You could also walk to a nearby store on Friday and hope to find your desired color and storage option. The iPhone SE 3 comes in Midnight, Starlight, and Red. It’s also available in three storage tiers: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB.

Finally, you can look for more stock from carriers or electronics retailers that sell Apple devices.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 13 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.