Warren Buffett Used A $20 Flip Phone Until Upgrading To An iPhone Only Four Years Ago — Despite Having Over $100 Billion Invested In Apple

Warren Buffett, the esteemed CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and a symbol of prudent investing, is known for his simple lifestyle and frugal choices, despite his billionaire status.

Buffett used a $20 flip phone for years, even after investing billions in Apple, a company synonymous with cutting-edge technology. This continued use of a basic phone highlighted his preference for simplicity and practicality.

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Buffett’s investment in Apple began in 2016, reflecting a significant engagement with the tech sector. Initially, Berkshire’s investment in Apple was about $35 billion between 2016 and 2018. By the start of 2020, this investment had grown to about $72 billion and further increased to approximately $109 billion by the end of September 2020, reflecting a substantial gain. Throughout 2020, despite some sales of shares, the value of Berkshire’s Apple investment likely ended at around $125 billion, marking a notable 78% growth over the year, according to reports. 

Despite his cautious approach to technology, by 2023, Apple had become Berkshire Hathaway’s largest holding. At its peak, Apple shares constituted about half of Berkshire’s U.S. stock portfolio. Although the stake had reduced to the lower-to-mid 40% range with 790 million shares, down from 905 million at the end of the previous year, Buffett’s admiration for Apple and its leadership under CEO Tim Cook remained undiminished.

In a poignant transition reflective of his trust in Apple, Buffett upgraded to an iPhone in 2020 at the age of 89. During a CNBC interview, he humorously recounted the upgrade from his flip phone, stating, "I am now using, not very often, the latest model." He even joked about a scenario where he might be seen "crushing with my foot my old flip phone."

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Further illustrating his journey into the digital age, Buffett shared that Tim Cook personally helped him navigate the complexities of the iPhone. "I went out to California, and Tim Cook very patiently spent hours trying to move me up to the level of the average two-year-old," Buffett said, humorously noting, "Didn’t quite make it."

Despite finally adopting smartphone technology, Buffett admitted he primarily uses his iPhone just to make calls, sticking to his preference for simplicity. His transition from a flip phone to an iPhone in 2020 marked a personal milestone and underscored his commitment to his largest equity investment.

Buffett’s ability to adapt, albeit slowly, to technological advancements, while maintaining his investment philosophy and simple living, demonstrates a balanced approach to embracing modern innovations without letting go of foundational values.

His experiences and insights, particularly his comments on Apple’s unique consumer loyalty  — "If you're an Apple user and somebody offers you $10,000 to give up your iPhone forever, you're not going to take it" — reflect his deep understanding of the value beyond technology, especially as a user himself. 

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