After the release of two new iPhone lines in September, Apple’s smartphones are on course to be the world’s most popular devices for another year, with the iPhone 7 leading the pack in terms of sales.

A number of consumers waited postponed their upgrades to wait for the September release of Apple’s latest iPhone 8 and iPhone X, but the sales numbers for these new devices are unlikely to eclipse those of the popular iPhone 7 in overall sales for the year.

According to research from Canalys, Apple shipped 46.7 million smartphones in Q3 2017, with the iPhone 7 line accounting for 13m and the iPhone 8 for 11.8m of that figure. The iPhone 6S was 2016’s most popular device, far outpacing competition from Samsung’s Galaxy range, and the results for 2017 are expected to be similar.

As smartphone technology has matured with recent smartphone upgrades more iterative than transformative, greater numbers of consumers are deciding to choose a cheaper, older device rather than pay for the latest version. Apple users have traditionally been happiest to pay top dollar for the latest device, but the excitement over the next iPhone appears to have declined in recent years.

This change in behaviour can be seen in how many people waited for the release of the iPhone 8 only so that they could pick up an iPhone 7 or iPhone 6S at a hefty discount. The iPhone 7 still compares well against its current rivals, and by keeping these older models on the market, Apple has started to target lower price points to gain market share in a space traditionally dominated by mid-tier Android phones from the likes of Samsung, Sony, and Motorola.

Canalys analyst Ben Stanton commented:

“Shipments of older devices, such as the iPhone 6s and SE, saw an uptick in Q3. 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.”

While the iPhone 7 may be the most popular phone, Samsung has overtaken Apple in the overall volume of mobile phones sold. In the third financial quarter of 2017, Samsung shipped a staggering 82.8m mobile phones, compared to Apple’s 47.7m. Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S8 sold 10.3m units in Q3, with the majority of the South Korean firm’s sales coming form its mid-tier or budget-friendly lines, such as its J range popular in India and the Middle East.

Beyond Apple and Samsung, Chinese manufacturers Huawei, Oppo, and Xiomi have also seen significant growth and now sit in third, fourth, and fifth positions respectively in terms of global sales. Xiaomi in particular has seen massive growth over the last year, with sales increasing by an impressive 86.9 percent, and with its recent expansion into western Europe with the launch of a store in Spain, its growth is expected to continue.

Apple may have once again claimed the crown of the world’s most popular phone in 2017, but the competition is getting stronger from budget-friendly Chinese manufacturers and 2018 could see a new global leader.


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