Customer inspects iPhone 14 Pro Max at an Apple Store in Marunouchi, Tokyo.
Stanislav Kogiku | SOPA images | flare | Getty Images
According to the market research company Omdia, the iPhone 14 was the most frequently shipped smartphone in the first half of the year. This reflects a shift in consumer buying habits toward the highest quality devices on the market and away from low- to mid-range phones.
From January through June, Apple's iPhone 14 Pro Max shipped 26.5 million units — the most of any model by any manufacturer — compared to 21 million units shipped for the iPhone 14 Pro.
That's according to Omdia's Smartphone Model Market Tracker – 2Q23 report, which tracks sales of different phone models.
Apple accounted for all four best-selling models, with the iPhone 14 taking third place with 16.5 million units and the iPhone 13 selling 15.5 million units.
There was a clear difference in which phones had the largest share of the overall market.
Last year, the iPhone 13 was the best-selling device on the market, suggesting consumers were still buying flagship devices, albeit at the entry-level rather than the high-end.
This year, the iPhone 14 Pro Max, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant's most expensive smartphone offering, has taken the crown.
It reflects a growing consumer shift towards the higher priced parts of the market.
Phones haven't changed that dramatically in recent years, and manufacturers have opted to release more incremental upgrades to their devices, with a focus on camera upgrades and more powerful chips.
This has led to a general uneasiness among consumers towards smartphones, which are now an essential device for both work and personal life.
The extremely high prices of more than $1,000 for the top-end phones from companies like Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi have also generally discouraged people from buying flagship phones.
Because of this, consumers keep their devices longer and wait until they reach a certain point in their lives where they feel they need a replacement for their phone – usually when it breaks.
However, people are more willing to pay a premium for the companies' most expensive devices because they want an upgrade with the best features on the market.
The Samsung Galaxy A14 was the fifth best-selling handset in H1, shipping 12.4 million units.
The South Korean tech giant's top model in its current range, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, was the sixth best-selling model with 9.6 million units shipped.
Devices from Chinese manufacturers didn't make the top 10 best-selling smartphones, with Omdia noting that Chinese smartphone shipments fell by double digits from 2022 due to a slump in the mid-to-low-end smartphone market.
The numbers are a key indicator of consumer sentiment towards smartphones, especially as Apple prepares to launch its new iPhone 15 this fall.
According to Omdia, Apple is expected to see flat or slightly lower shipments of its iPhones overall this year.
However, the Pro and Pro Max models are expected to continue growing “due to solid demand for premium models,” said Jusy Hong, senior research manager at Omdia.
According to earlier data from Omdia, global smartphone shipments will fall 6% year-on-year to 1.15 billion devices, their worst performance in a decade.
Apple shares were up less than 1% early Monday morning. The company's stock is up about 37.5% year-to-date.
Correction: Apple stock is up around 37.5% year-to-date. In a previous version, the percentage was incorrect.