iPhone 7 tops smartphone shipments in Q3 as worldwide market jumps 5.9%

Samsung 'needs to catch up' at the high end of the market Canalys said

Apple’s iPhone 7 topped worldwide smartphone shipments in the third quarter, according to fresh data from Canalys. And the iPhone 6S ranked second.

But Samsung nearly lapped the field as the top vendor.

Apple shipped 13 million iPhone 7 handsets during the period, and the iPhone S saw 7.9 million shipments. Samsung shipped an estimated 7.8 million units of the Galaxy J2 Prime, good for third place, while two Oppo phones—the A57 and R11, respectively—rounded out the top five.

Worldwide smartphone shipments jumped 5.9% annually during the quarter.

The iPhone 8, which launched in mid-September, unsurprisingly didn’t crack the top five. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus notched a combined 11.8 million shipments, with the larger model becoming the first iPhone to out-ship its smaller version in a single quarter, Canalys said.

Shipments of the iPhone 8 fell “well short” of the iPhone 7 line, the market research firm said, as Apple continued to broaden the range of its handset portfolio. And some early adopters may have been holding off on buying the iPhone 8 as they awaited the release of the highly anticipated iPhone X.

“Shipments of older devices, such as the iPhone 6s and SE, saw an uptick in Q3,” Canalys Analyst Ben Stanton said in a press release. “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.”

The strategy is a new one for Apple, but the company continues to generate solid margins across its handsets at a time when many other vendors are producing razor-thin margins.

Meanwhile, Samsung shipped 82.8 million smartphones in the third quarter, marking 8.2% year-over-year growth and claiming 22% of the worldwide market. Apple saw a 2.6% increase in shipments and accounted for 12.4% of the market; Huawei (10.4% market share), Oppo (8%) and Xiaomi (7.4%) rounded out the top five vendos.

Interestingly, Xiaomi’s smartphone shipments jumped nearly 87% year over year. And while Samsung dominated the overall market with a broad lineup at a range of price points, the company has become vulnerable at the high end of the market, Stanton said.

“Samsung had a positive quarter,” according to Stanton. “But Samsung’s golden period of having a differentiated product has now ended. Apple, Google, Huawei and others have all introduced new smartphones with 18:9 displays and thin bezels. As the battleground at the high end moves toward AI and AR, Samsung is behind, and needs to catch up with competitors such as Huawei and Apple.”