Video: Forecasting the future of the smartphone
Even with the imminent arrival of the iPhone X, 13 million consumers bought a new iPhone 7 in the third quarter.
Analyst firm Canalys offers a new breakdown of the 46.7 million iPhones that Apple reported selling in its Q4 financial period.
With 13 million iPhone 7 shipments, last year's flagship, which Apple recently discounted, was the biggest-selling phone in the calendar third quarter, followed by the iPhone 6s' 7.9 million units shipped.
Apple also sold 11.8 million iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus units in the quarter, well short of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which exceeded 14 million units in their first quarter of availability.
Still, despite only having launched in the middle of the quarter, combined iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus sales outperformed Samsung's Galaxy S8 range, which reached 10.3 million in the same period.
Apple shipped 6.3 million iPhone 8 Plus devices versus 5.4 million iPhone 8 models, making this the first time consumers have bought more of the larger model in a single quarter, Canalys notes.
After the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s, the top five best-selling phones were Samsung's Galaxy J2 Prime and the Oppo A57, which both reached 7.8 million units, and Oppo R11 with 7.2 million units.
Worldwide shipments were 375.9 million, up 5.9 percent on the third quarter last year.
Apple reported three percent year-over-year growth in shipments in the quarter, which according to Canalys analyst Ben Stanton was due largely to older iPhone models, including the iPhone 6s and iPhone SE, which saw an uptick in the quarter.
"The iPhone 7 also shipped strongly after its price cut in September. Apple grew in Q3, but it was these older, cheaper models that propped up total iPhone shipments. Apple is clearly making a portfolio play here.
"With the launch of the iPhone X, it now has five tiers of iPhone and delivers iOS at more price bands than ever before. This is a new strategy for Apple. It is aggressively defending its market share, but it will not compromise its rigid margin structure to do so," said Stanton.
Samsung overall is by the biggest smartphone vendor, shipping 82.8 million smartphones for the quarter, giving it a 22 percent share of the market. Its shipments grew 8.2 percent year on year. Canalys notes Samsung's J-Series, which are popular in India and the Middle East, drove its growth. Samsung also shipped 4.4 million Note 8 phones.
Xiaomi, the fifth-largest vendor, saw a massive 87 percent growth in shipments to 28 million units for the quarter. Shipments from the third-largest supplier, Huawei, also grew an impressive 17 percent to 39.1 million units.
Stanton notes that Samsung has lost its edge in displays now that Apple, Google, Huawei and others have new phones with 18:9 displays and thin bezels.
"As the battleground at the high end moves toward AI and AR, Samsung is behind, and needs to catch up with competitors such as Huawei and Apple," he said.
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