Apple iPhone 6s may be minor update but it's starting to make its mark in US

New research points to early signs that the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will sell well in coming quarters.

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Smartphone OS market shares show contrasting fortunes for Android and iOS in the US and China. Image: Kantar Worldpanel ComTech

It's still early days for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, but sales in the US are looking positive. Within weeks of their launch, sales of the new devices already account for 11 percent of all iPhones sold in the country, according to a new report.

Apple announced a record-breaking 13 million iPhone 6s and 6S Plus sales in the weekend of their launch in September but analysts still question whether enough existing iPhone owners will buy Apple's latest iOS hardware, given the incremental nature of the upgrade and the fact that the 16GB iPhone 6s seems to represent poor value, leaving the more expensive 64GB and 128GB models the only realistic options for consumers.

But there are signs in the US that sales for the new iOS phones will be strong. According to market research firm Kantar World Panel Comtech, during just a few days in the calendar third quarter, the two devices accounted for more than one-tenth of all iPhones sold in the nation.

Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, also noted that iPhone sales through the Apple Store for the quarter had doubled year on year to 7.9 percent of total sales.

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"While it is too early to link this to the new iPhone Upgrade Program, the trend is certainly worth watching," she said.

iPhones are also proving popular in China, where sales have more than doubled over the past year, putting the Apple smartphone in third place behind local brands Xiaomi and Huawei.

According to Kantar, consumers in China are switching from Android to iOS at a much faster clip than elsewhere.

Apple CEO Tim Cook last week said 30 percent of new iPhone owners had switched from Android during the company's fourth quarter.

According to Kantar, a good chunk of these sales probably came from China, where 56 percent of iPhone buyers during the third quarter switched from Android. Also, the best selling iPhone in China was the iPhone 6, followed by the 6 Plus.

This upward trend could well continue over the next year: 28 percent of Chinese consumers surveyed are planning to upgrade their phones in the next 12 months.

Milanesi said 79 percent of those who own iPhones, and 25 percent of those who own Android devices, say they prefer Apple.

Worldwide, Cook said just 31 percent of existing iPhone owners had upgraded to the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, meaning a large number of buyers could choose the current generation as Apple heads into the typically bumper holiday season quarter.

In Europe, Android continued to see a lower share of sales than last year, according to Kantar's data. Over the past year, across the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany, Android's share has declined 1.1 percentage points to 74 percent while iOS has risen from 12.7 percent to 14.4 percent.

Year-on-year gains for iOS and losses for Android during the quarter were more pronounced in the UK and Germany.

According to market research firm Counterpoint, the rose-gold variant of the iPhone 6s was the most popular selling phone in China in September, making the iPhone overall the country's top-selling device in the nation.

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