Technology analysts Canalys estimate that Apple shipped 29 million iPhone X units in Q4 last year (Apple’s Q1 2018). It says that 7M of them – almost a quarter – were shipped in China.

The firm says that two factors helped ‘impressive’ sales of the flagship iPhone …

First, it said that markets where consumers can finance the phone meant that most were undeterred by the four-figure price-tag, focusing instead on whether the monthly payments were affordable.

Second, consumers struggling to afford the device could offset the cost.

One major benefit to Apple is that customers are increasingly realizing the residual value of their old smartphones, opting for trade-in programs to offset the high price of the iPhone X.

All the same, says Canalys, 29M units would be slightly below expectations, with early supply constraints and a split launch between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X contributing factors.

The firm noted that older models – the SE, 6s and 7 – also sold well, suggesting Apple has got its line-up strategy right.

The older handsets are still popular with iPhone users looking for value for money. “Apple is looking at its best performance to date, all thanks to the massive changes it made to its portfolio in Q3,” said Canalys Analyst TuanAnh Nguyen. “This strategy has hedged Apple’s risk as it upgrades the iPhone, in both design and user experience. While new technologies, such as Face ID and bezel-less displays, help to justify the US$999 price tag and maintain competitiveness with Samsung, Huawei and Google, having a larger portfolio allows Apple to meet its overall shipment targets, and protect its market leadership in the premium segment.”

A CIRP study indicated that the iPhone 8/Plus and iPhone X accounted for about 61% of U.S. iPhone sales in Q4. Analytics data suggested that Apple dominated device activations leading up to Christmas, with Kantar data showing the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X as the top 3 best-selling phones in the US in November.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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