Apple shipped 29 million iPhone X units in the fourth quarter of 2017, making it the best-selling smartphone model during the holiday period. The iPhone X was announced alongside the iterative iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in September, but the device went on sale only in November.
According to Canalys, the iPhone X adoption was driven by upgrade demand in operator-centric markets like the US where Apple has larger install base compared to other smartphone makers. The iPhone X starts at $999 in the US, and the research firm notes that the option to finance the cost of handsets over many months helped existing iPhone owners upgrade to the new model. It also notes that out of 29 million units shipped during the holiday season, 7 million of those were in China, an important market for Apple.
“The iPhone X performance is impressive for a device priced at $999, but it is slightly below industry expectations,” said Ben Stanton, Analyst at Canalys.
Leading up to the release of iPhone X, most analysts predicted there will be supply issues and the new iPhone will only be available in limited quantities. On November 3, when it finally went on sale, the shipping times extended to as much as six weeks for those ordering the device from Apple Store online. However, Apple managed to iron out those supply issues and Canalys says it saw major uplift in production towards the end of November and throughout December.
Canalys says the iPhone X sales were also driven by Apple’s trade-in programs which allows existing iPhone owners to trade their device for the newest model. “The trade-in program helped offset the high price of the iPhone X,” added Stanton.
While Apple iPhone X may have been the best selling smartphone model during the holiday season, the shipment numbers are not the fastest ever for an iPhone. Apart from production issues, the shipment numbers were affected by Apple’s split launch strategy and high price tag.
During the quarter ending December, the iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models also recorded good shipment numbers. Canalys highlights that older iPhone models are still popular among users looking for value in their purchase.
Apple will announce its first quarter earnings for the period October 1, 2017 to January 1, 2018 on February 1 and it is expected to report the best result yet in terms of profit. The uplifted sales of iPhone X along with good response for older models mean that Apple will see improvement in average sales price of iPhone, which should help increase both revenue and overall margin.
“Apple is looking at its best performance to date, all thanks to the massive changes it made to its portfolio in Q3,” said Canalys Analyst TuanAnh Nguyen.
To recall, the iPhone X is the most radical redesign of iPhone in nearly four years with edge-to-edge OLED display and new facial recognition technology. The smartphone has the fastest smartphone chipset in the form of A11 Bionic and includes dual 12-megapixel optically stabilized rear camera with 2x optical zoom. Apple has also introduced new portrait lighting mode feature this year allowing users to reproduce studio effects on the phone. The iPhone X is available in 64GB and 256GB storage variants, priced at Rs 92,430, and Rs 105,720 respectively.