Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been breaking iPhone sales records in Q1 since 2010. But this time analysts estimate the company to report upward of 55 million iPhone sales. It’s the first time Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is likely to break the 50-million milestone. As we reported last week, the Cupertino-based tech giant is set to post strong sales for the quarter ending December 2013 due to massive sales of the iPhone 5S and iPad Air. The company will release its earnings on January 27 after the bell.

Apple iPhone

Things that helped Apple sell more iPhones

Philip Elmer-Dewitt of Fortune compared predictions of 44 analysts. They all expect Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to sell at least 50 million iPhone in the December quarter. The average stands at 55.3 million units, an increase of 16% from a year ago period. The difference between the highest and the lowest estimate is 9.7 million, compared to a gap of 20 million a year ago. The release of new iPhones, strong holiday demand, more Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) retail stores and plenty of supply, all added to the performance of iPhones.

iPhone

Faizal Kara of The Braeburn Group is most bullish, estimating Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to sell 59.73 million units. Ilari Scheinin, who is affiliated to the same The Braeburn Group, is most bearish with 50 million units. Among professional analysts, Scott Craig of Merill Lynch is most optimistic, expecting the tech giant to sell 58.5 million iPhones.

How many iPhones Apple sold to NTT DoCoMo?

Most of the well-known analysts are skewed towards the higher end. For example, Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank estimates sales of 58 million iPhones. Robert Cihra of Evercore Partners predicts Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to sell 57 million handsets, while Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says the figure is likely to come at 55.5 million units.

More importantly, these figures don’t include sales to China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:0941), which began selling iPhones last week. However, it does include sales at Japanese carrier NTT Docomo Inc (NYSE:DCM) (TYO:9437), which signed a deal with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) last year.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock rose 0.15% in pre-market trading to $541.49.