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Apple says the iPhone XR has been its top-selling iPhone since launch

Vice President Greg Joswiak talks up the iPhone XR as concerns swirl around demand for Apple’s newest smartphones.

Angela Lang/CNET
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The iPhone XR marks the first time Apple has introduced a Product Red device at the iPhone's launch.

Apple

Apple's iPhone XR has been outselling the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max every day since the cheaper, colorful phone hit the market last month.

Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of product marketing, told CNET in an interview Wednesday that the device has "been our most popular iPhone each and every day since the day it became available." 

Apple showed off its three new iPhones in mid-September and started selling the $999 iPhone XS and $1,099 iPhone XS Max on Sept. 21. It didn't start selling the $749 iPhone XR until a month later, on Oct. 26.

The news comes amid worries about iPhone demand. Apple's fiscal fourth-quarter results at the beginning of November showed that the company may be grappling with a case of iPhone fatigue -- but it's still getting people to shell out more money for the phones they do buy. Apple said it didn't sell as many iPhones as analysts expected in the quarter that ended Sept. 29, and it projected lackluster revenue results for the December quarter. Apple also said it would no longer detail unit sales of its iPhone and other major devices, a reversal from its strategy since first introducing the products.

Then last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has cut production orders in recent weeks for all three 2018 iPhone models.

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That has caused some people to worry that iPhone sales won't be as strong as in the past. Apple's quarterly results included the first couple weeks of iPhone XS sales but didn't incorporate iPhone XR sales. 

Joswiak declined to comment about the Journal report or iPhone demand in general beyond reiterating that the iPhone XR "has been the most popular and best-selling" iPhone since it hit the market.

Apple's stock has tumbled about 20 percent since the company announced its quarterly earnings. The decline has meant Apple's no longer worth more than a trillion dollars, a level it had reached in August. It's also given Microsoft and its soaring stock the opportunity to become the world's biggest publicly traded company. 

Earlier this week, Apple's shares again slid after President Donald Trump said he may place tariffs on iPhones and laptop computers imported from China. Joswiak declined to comment about the impact of tariffs on iPhone prices for consumers. 

Apple shares rose 2.9 percent on Wednesday to $179.32.

World AIDS Day

Along with talking about demand for the iPhone XR, Joswiak on Wednesday also noted that Apple's yet again making a big push for World AIDS Day, taking place Saturday. The company will donate $1 for every Apple Pay purchase at an Apple Store, at Apple.com or through the Apple Store app from Dec. 1 to Dec. 7, and it plans to turn 125 Apple Store logos red in honor of the day. 

Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the first World AIDS Day. The event stemmed from the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programs for AIDS Prevention. Every year since that time, United Nations agencies, governments and companies join together to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.

Apple has been a big supporter of HIV/AIDS work for over a decade. It has created bright red devices -- and given a percentage of the proceeds -- for the past 12 years to Red, a nonprofit started by U2 frontman Bono in 2006. Over that time, Apple has raised over $200 million from the sale of its Red products, Joswiak said Wednesday. Joswiak declined to specify what percentage of Product Red device sales go to the nonprofit.

"Not only does each purchase bring us closer to an AIDS-free generation but every dollar provides five days of life-saving medicine," he said.

A year ago, Apple said it had helped raise $160 million from the sale of its Red products to provide an equivalent of 475 million days of lifesaving medication. Red donates the money it raises from Apple and others -- over $500 million since its inception -- to the Global Fund, a nonprofit organization that offers prevention, testing, treatment, counseling and care services to HIV and AIDS patients in developing countries. 

Last year, Apple also made donations to Red from Apple Pay purchases, and it had a special "Today" tab in its App Store that featured stories about HIV/AIDs. King, the maker of the popular Candy Crush matching game, also offered limited-edition bundles in which all proceeds from in-app purchases will go to the Global Fund. Apple isn't doing any special Red promotions in the App Store this year, Joswiak said.

Along with turning the logos red at 125 Apple Stores, Apple will have red decals at another 400 stores, he said.

The company typically launches Red versions of its iPhones months after they first go on sale, including for the iPhone 7. It never created a Red model of its iPhone X last year but launched the iPhone XR with a Red model the day it first went on sale. 

"It's the first time [Apple] offered an iPhone Red at launch," Joswiak said. "This has been an incredibly important partnership for us. It's hard to think of higher calling than selling products that save people's lives."

Joswiak declined to say if Apple will later introduce a Red iPhone XS or XS Max. 

The iPhone XR "is literally our most mainstream product and our most popular iPhone we're making available" for Product Red, he said.

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