A new report from KGI defies market consensus claiming that iPhone X shipments are not as strong as many believe. The analyst says that it believes Apple will ship around 18 million iPhone X units in the current quarter, significantly below estimates in the 20-30 million range from other analysts. It primarily blames longer replacement cycles in China for the weaker demand for iPhone X.
However, KGI reaffirms its predictions of a three-tier 2018 iPhone lineup with a 6.1-inch LCD model, a successor to iPhone X and a 6.5-inch OLED ‘iPhone X Plus’ launching in the fall. In fact, KGI suggests that Apple may stop making iPhone X altogether when production of the new 2018 models ramp up.
KGI says that iPhone X has not landed as strongly in China as it originally hoped. It says Chinese customers are holding on to their existing phones for a longer time, quoting lower shipment forecasts from vendors like Huawei and Oppo, as well as claiming that the notch screen design has turned away potential Chinese customers.
The analyst says that Chinese users prefer larger-screen phones but the notch design of the iPhone X means the effective screen real estate is lower, or at least customers believe there is not as much usable screen space as the 5.5-inch Plus models.
According to the report, Apple will ship around 18 million iPhone X units in Q1 2018 and about 13 million in Q2 2018. KGI expects the iPhone X to ‘go to end of life around mid-2018’ which would mean the device would sell around 62 million units total, significantly lower than its previous forecast of 80 million.
The claim that Apple will stop making the current iPhone X models later this year is intriguing. Apple usually keeps around flagships at reduced prices for a few generations.
Whilst iPhone X sales are weaker than they expected, KGI says that iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s continue to sell well as the lower-tier phones in Apple’s lineup. It believes Apple will see 0-5% growth in iPhone shipments for the first half of 2018 compared to a year ago.
KGI is also bullish on the fall 2018 iPhone lineup ‘when the real super cycle will kick in’. Repeating claims from last year, Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple will introduce new 6.5-inch OLED and 6.1-inch LCD iPhones with an iPhone X-esque design.
The 6.1-inch LCD model will apparently be priced significantly lower than the current iPhone X, coming in the $650-750 range. This may justify why iPhone X is being EOL’d – the new lower-price option will be this 6.1-inch phone.
Based on the strength of the fall lineup, KGI believes iPhone shipments will grow up to 10% for the full 2018 calendar year. This beats the growth estimates of the smartphone industry, which swing between -5% to +5% shipments.
Apple reports its fiscal Q1 earnings results on February 1st. Note that Apple’s fiscal calendar is a quarter ahead of the calendar, and KGI uses the normal calendar. This means that KGI’s comments on weaker Q1 iPhone X sales will not be represented in Apple’s next earnings results, but may be shown if Apple’s guidance for fiscal Q2 is below investor expectations.