iPhone XS Max the huge winner in sales says analyst

Chris Davies - Sep 24, 2018, 3:17 pm CST
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iPhone XS Max the huge winner in sales says analyst

Bigger is apparently better, with the iPhone XS Max outselling the iPhone XS handily over Apple’s launch weekend according to one analyst’s numbers. Curiosity had been high as to which would be the more successful iPhone XS variant, given the level of demand for a larger smartphone against the iPhone XS Max’s premium price tag.

Apple has a policy not to break down its sales numbers beyond category, so we’re unlikely to hear what the split between iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max sales will be when the company next reports its financial results. That leaves us dependent on unofficial figures, like those which have emerged in an investors note today from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In that, Kuo suggests that the iPhone XS Max was the winner in weekend sales. It’s not by a small percentage, either. The document, obtained by MacRumors, claims the larger handset outsold its smaller iPhone XS sibling by three to four times.

“We have determined that the demand for XS Max is better than expected (3–4 times that of XS),” Kuo claims. “The gold and space-grey colors are significantly more popular than the silver. 256GB is the most popular, and 512GB is subject to a serious shortage because only Samsung can currently ship NAND Flash well. We are positive that XS Max shipments will grow steadily in 4Q18 thanks to demand from Asia market and the gift season.”

Pundits had predicted strong interest in the iPhone XS Max even in the months before the smartphone was officially announced. By borrowing the design language of the iPhone X, switching to an OLED screen and shrinking the bezels down that surround it, Apple can squeeze a significantly larger display into a device that isn’t too unwieldy to hold. Indeed, the iPhone XS Max is roughly the size of the iPhone 8 Plus, but has a 6.5-inch display rather than the 5.5-inch screen of the earlier handset.

However, the big upset may well come in mid-October. That’s when the iPhone XR goes on sale, with Apple’s most affordable of the three new 2018 phones undercutting the iPhone XS by $300 despite having a larger display. That, Kuo predicts, will see greater upgrade motivation than the iPhone 8 series did in 2017.

As for the Apple Watch, supply is going to be the bottleneck, Kuo says. While “demand is much better than expected,” the fact that current assembler Quanta is at maximum capacity will hamper availability and limit sales until Compal joins production in November. Even with that, the analyst is predicting Apple Watch shipments to potentially reach as many as 19.5 million units in 2018.

Of course, whether it’s the iPhone XS or the iPhone XS Max that sells the most, Apple’s strategy is the biggest winner. The company faced plenty of criticism for pushing up the price of its smartphones last year, but it was a risk that paid off when it came to profits. Although sales numbers remained roughly the same, average selling price per device rose considerably thanks to the heftier sticker.


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