With smartphone sales in free fall, iPhone still dominates

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iPhone XR battery life is the best of any iPhone on the market.
iPhone XR dominates N. American phone sales.
Photo: Kristal Chan/Cult of Mac

Apple’s most affordable 2018 handset is a real hit in N. America. There were more than twice as many iPhone XR units shipped during the first three months of this year in this region as its next nearest competitor.

Even so, Apple and the entire phone business had a very weak first quarter.

There were 4.5 million iPhone XR units shipped in the U.S., Canada and Mexico during the January-to-March period, according to market-research firm Canalys. This iOS handset’s closest rivals were the Galaxy S10+ and S10e, of which Samsung shipped 2 million units each.

Together these three made up a quarter of all Q1 handset sales in N. America

iPhone sales vs. Samsung

The N. American quarterly total for all Apple handsets was 14.6 million. That’s down 19 percent year over year. This company recently admitted it was seeing a slowdown in sales in every region of the world.

Still, between them, Apple and Samsung split a large percentage of the market in these three countries. The iPhone made up 40 percent of all shipments, while Samsung had 29 percent.

Samsung’s shipments went up in Q1 2019 slightly, probably because it introduced the Galaxy S10 earlier in the year than the previous S9’s debut.

But the combination of shipments from every phone maker dropped 18% year on year to a 5-year low of 36.4 million units in N. America. That’s down from a record high of 44.4 million in the same three months of 2018. A significant part of that decline was Apple, of course.

Canalys Research Analyst Vincent Thielke has advice on how the iPhone company can turn things around. “The key challenge in coming months remains that its latest iPhones are just not different enough, though new ones are on the way. For its performance to improve in 2020, Apple will need to emphasize radical new features that are most likely to impress consumers.”