Not Bad: Apple Sold 29 Million iPhone X Units In Holiday Quarter

Apple has kept quiet on the iPhone X sales numbers, even though industry experts have been chattering about poor sales, strong sales, no consumer demand, and all sorts of things. The tech giant is set to report its holiday quarter earnings on Thursday, February 1, where it may also talk about the iPhone X’s performance. Meanwhile, Singapore-based research firm Canalys estimates that Apple shipped 29 million iPhone X units in the holiday quarter.

Apple iPhone X Holiday Sales
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iPhone X was the “best-shipping’ smartphone over the holiday season

That’s quite impressive for a single iPhone model, especially considering it was available for less than two months in the Oct-Dec quarter. The iPhone X launched on November 3rd, but it faced severe supply shortages in the first few weeks due to limited production. Apple was able to ramp up iPhone X production by the end of November to fulfill the consumer demand.

Out of 29 million units sold in the Q4, Canalys says a staggering seven million iPhone X devices were sold in China alone. The shipments might not have been as high as Wall Street analysts expected, but they were enough to make it the “world’s best-shipping smartphone model over the holiday season,” topping the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors recently that Chinese consumers mostly preferred the iPhone 8 Plus over the iPhone X because the anniversary model’s notch gave an impression that its usable screen space was smaller than iPhone 8 Plus. Large screen smartphones are particularly popular in China.

When Apple revealed that the iPhone X would cost $999 for the base model, many analysts argued that its price would badly hurt the sales. But loyal Apple fans seem to be willing to shell out more for the latest bells and whistles. Canalys said the device sold particularly well in carrier-centric markets where Apple’s massive user base traded-in their older iPhones to bring down the cost of the iPhone X.

Canalys said the holiday season shipment numbers were impressive given the phone’s $1,000 starting price. But the sales failed to meet the expectations of Apple and the industry analysts. CLSA analysts had projected 30-35 million iPhone X shipments in the fourth quarter of 2017. The shipments were “not the fastest ever for an iPhone,” said Canalys without revealing which iPhone holds the crown for the fastest sales.

Canalys’s estimate is in line with reports from other research firms. Consumer Intelligence Research Partners said in a recent report that the iPhone X accounted for 20% of all iPhones sold during the October-December quarter last year. The iPhone 8 accounted for 24% while the larger iPhone 8 Plus made up 17% of the total sales. Kantar Worldpanel said earlier this month that the anniversary iPhone witnessed a “stellar” performance in many countries such as the US, China, and the UK, and Japan.

Will Apple discontinue iPhone X?

Multiple Wall Street analysts have warned that most people who wanted to buy the iPhone X have already purchased it. As a result, the phone would see a dramatic decline in sales during the current quarter. According to the Economic Daily News, Apple has reduced its January-March quarter iPhone X shipment forecast from 50 million to 30 million units. The company has also cut orders at suppliers, claims the Taiwanese publication.

According to Credit Suisse analysts, Apple would be able to sell only 19 million iPhone X devices in the current quarter. Sinolink Securities analyst Zhang Bin has told clients that the anniversary iPhone’s high price tag would weaken the demand in the current quarter. JL Warren Capital has also lowered its iPhone X shipment forecast from 30 million to 25 million units.

A few days ago, Ming-Chi Kuo told clients that Apple could discontinue the iPhone X if sales remain weak over the next few months. The tech giant would stop producing iPhone X handsets when this year’s flagship iPhones enter production, said the analyst. It doesn’t mean the iPhone X’s design or its features were outright rejected by consumers. The phone’s design language and key features would be transferred to the 2018 flagship models.

If Kuo’s prediction turns out to be true, the iPhone X would not be available as a lower-priced option when the new models launch in September this year. The analyst expects Apple to ship 18 million iPhone X handsets in the current quarter.

How Apple will differentiate this year’s OLED iPhones from LCD model

In another research note, Ming-Chi Kuo has told investors that Apple would be launching three iPhones this year. One would sport a 5.8-inch OLED panel while another would come with a giant 6.5-inch OLED screen. The third device would feature a 6.1-inch LCD screen. It would cost between $700 and $800. The LCD version would feature only a single camera and launch without the 3D Touch capabilities to keep the costs down. It would also have a lower display resolution than the OLED models. Apple will reportedly source the LCD panels from Japan Display.