Apple didn't say how the iPhone SE's sales fared during its first weekend, but multiple sources point out that the four-inch smartphone was less popular than anticipated.

Some went so far as saying that the handset scored "lackluster" figures during its first three to four days of availability. 

Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with KGI Securities, was skeptical about CNBC's report, which claimed that iPhone SE orders jumped the 3.4 million mark in China. He notes that the demand for the new Apple handset was considerably below previous launches.

The iPhone SE was launched on March 31.

Kuo points out that the delivery time for iPhone SE preorders indicates an unprecedented low demand for the device.

"We believe this is due to lackluster demand for smaller-size smartphones and [...] the product itself offers no significant upgrades to form factor or hardware specs," he notes.

The KGI Securities analyst is not the only one who noticed the poor impact of the iPhone SE.

Localytics, a mobile analytics firm, backs Kuo's conclusions and calls the iPhone SE adoption "lackluster." Based on its own research, the firm calculated that the four-inch iPhone "grabbed only 0.1 percent of the iPhone market" during its first weekend of sales.

This places the iPhone SE below the adoption quota of both the iPhone 5s and every iPhone 6 model out there.

Apple officially rolled out the iPhone SE last Thursday, on March 31. On the same day, Tesla started to take preorders for its upcoming affordable electric car, the Model 3. Judging by the long waiting lines that formed outside of brick and mortar stores, Tesla's unveiling was much more popular than Apple's.

Kuo estimates that iPhone shipments will probably stay below 200 million units in 2016, meaning that the iPhone SE will make less of an impact on the company's sales than the OEM hoped for. Looking at the feedback after the release of iPhone 6s, 6s Plus and SE, KGI Securities is skeptical about Apple's touted growth during the current year.

"We believe growth on replacement demand for larger display is slowing," the analysts say.

It should be mentioned that the iPhone SE is actually a 2016 variant of the iPhone 5s in terms of design, but with specs along the lines of the 6s. Seeing how the device borrows a design dating to 2012, it makes sense that adopters are a bit shy to jump to own the new product. However, insiders from the mobile industry point out that it was high-time for the OEM to replace the four-year-old model with a new entry-level iPhone.

Check out the comparison between the iPhone 5s and the new iPhone SE to see where this year's device trumps its predecessor.

Apple fans know that the company scheduled the release of the iPhone 7 in September, and some of them are saving money to jump right to the latest flagship.  

However, the OEM is most likely gunning for emerging markets such as India, Brazil or China with its iPhone SE. The fact that the handset is smaller makes it more affordable, a criteria that can contribute to the success of devices in countries with huge social disparity. 

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