The iPhone 12 became the world’s best-selling 5G smartphone model in October despite a delayed launch, which resulted in only two weeks of sales during the month. The iPhone 12 Pro, which was also launched alongside the iPhone 12, was the second best-selling 5G model for the month, according to Counterpoint Research’s monthly Market Pulse Service. The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro together captured close to one-fourth of the total 5G smartphone sales in October.
The iPhone 12 also entered the top 10 bestseller list of 5G devices for January-October 2020, attaining the seventh position. This is a big achievement, considering the new iPhone series was available for only two weeks in October. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, which was the best-selling 5G device in September, slipped to the third position.
Several factors drove this huge initial uptick for the iPhone 12 series.
There is a large pent-up demand for 5G upgrade, especially within the iOS base, which is now getting converted into sales. This was complemented by strong carrier promos, especially in the US, which accounted for over one-third of the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro sales for the month. All carriers were offering the iPhone 12 for $0 through a mix of the trade-in and unlimited plans.
China and Japan also saw strong initial demand for the iPhone 12 series. Compared to most of the other 5G models, which have a regional presence, the iPhone 12 has a wider market coverage – it is available in over 140 countries, thus helping sales.
The iPhone 12 series has also given a push to mmWave. The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro for the US are capable of mmWave support. As a result, the penetration of mmWave capable smartphones increased to 12% in October compared to 5% in September. The popularity of the iPhone 12 also means that there will be a large installed base of mmWave capable devices in the US. This is important because it gives operators an incentive to deploy mmWave infrastructure rapidly. The high throughput and low latency provided by mmWave will help unlock the true potential of 5G. With the mmWave network and devices in place, it would lay a solid foundation for Apple to leverage the power of mmWave in segments like AR/VR.
Going forward, the demand for the iPhone 12 series is likely to remain strong through Q4 2020, especially during the festive season in December. Strong sales for Apple will also drive the volumes in the premium segment, raising the global ASP. Due to the late launch, some of the sales will be pushed to subsequent months, thus maintaining the momentum of the iPhone 12 series in early 2021 as well. Through the iPhone 12 series, Apple has also given a much-needed push to the 5G smartphone market, which cornered its highest ever share of 24% in the global smartphone sales in October.