How many iPhones did Apple sell last quarter?

Analysts’ estimates range from 43 million to 48 million. Average: 45 million.

Nobody on Wall Street should be surprised when Apple releases its September quarter earnings a week from today and reports that iPhone sales have declined year over year for the third quarter in a row.

Apple warned analysts in July that it expected revenues for fiscal Q4 2016 to come in between $45.5 and $47.5 billion, well below last year’s $51.5 billion.

And because the iPhone accounts for roughly 60% of Apple’s revenue, iPhone sales must also be down. My rule of thumb is to look for iPhone unit sales of roughly one million for every $1 billion in reported revenue.

But most analysts see a light at the end of the tunnel. Their estimates are still trickling in, but of the 18 we’ve heard from so far—13 professionals and five  independents—unit sales estimates range from a low of 42.99 million to a high of 48.2 million. The average estimate, 45.3 million, represents a 5.7% drop year over year. (For investors monitoring Apple’s two-year iPhone cycle, that’s a 18% increase from Q4 2014, just before Apple shipped the iPhone 6.)

Apple’s smartphone business may appear to be in the doldrums, but things are trending up. Here’s what that looks like in terms of iPhone sales.


Click to enlarge. Not seeing the graphics? Try the website. 

And here, in a shared pdf, are the individual analysts estimates I’ve seen so far, independents in green, pros in blue. Thanks as always to Posts at Eventide’s Robert Paul Leitao for pulling together the Braeburn Group numbers.


Barring any further postponements, we’ll find out who was closest to the mark about half an hour after the markets close on Tuesday Oct. 25.


  1. Milenko Tanasijevic said:
    Dear PED could you please re-post the table listing the analysts’ accuracy after the last ER ?

    October 18, 2016
    • Milenko Tanasijevic said:
      Actually I was able to retreive it from the July archives.

      October 18, 2016
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    How many iPhones did Apple sell during the September quarter? Once Apple gave its FQ4 Guidance it didn’t matter, because whatever Apple sold has to fit within its Guidance range.

    Under Fred Anderson Apple’s revenue results averaged ~19% above guidance.
    Under vPeter Oppenheimer Apple’s revenue results averaged ~5% above top of guidance range range.
    Since Luca Maestri too one Apple’s revenue results have averaged ~1% below top of guidance range. This is not due to Apple’s poor performance, but rather, an intentional effort to be more accurate and reign in WS’s uber Bulls.

    I’m much more interested in iPhone sales forecasts for the December quarter, and to that end I’m forecasting 91.960 Million units. That estimate includes iPhone 7/7 Plus, discounted iPhone 6S/6S Plus and iPhone SE units.

    Why so many? Mo matter what the pundits say, the upgrade cycle is 24 months (+/- a month, maybe two).

    iPhone installed base is ~60% larger going into FY2017 than it was 2 years ago.

    This years December quarter has 14 selling weeks vs prior two years 13 weeks. Average weekly sales for FY2015 and FY2016 was 5.740 million units. A 14 week quarter will generate 80.363 million units minimum.

    Apple has increased the number of markets getting the iPhone during the December quarter by 600 Million people (FY205 and FY2016 initial markets had population of 2.1 billion people respectively). Per capita unit sales for each of FY2015 and FY2016 was 0.0355 units. Applying that to 2.7 billion population base generates 95.944 million units.

    On the totem pole of reasons to upgrade case design is at the bottom . Number 1, 2 and 3 are battery life, storage capacity and quality of camera. The iPhone 7/7 Plus acquits itself very well on all three point.

    Three year (FY2014, FY2015, FY2016) average upgrade cycle (2 year) growth rate was ~45%. REDUCING that rate by 2 Standard Deviations plus an FX headwind factor results in a bi-annual growth rate of ~23%. Applying that to FQ1/2015 arrives at 91.960 million units for FQ1/2017. It should be noted that the lowest bi-annual growth since 2009 occurred in FY2014 (37%). My forecast of 23% is 38% lower than the lowest rate ever.

    That WS is not sensing iPhone 7 sales rate is not surprising. WS missed iPhone 6 sales rate by nearly 10 million units.

    October 18, 2016
  3. David Drinkwater said:
    You know, how many iPhones Apple sold last quarter just doesn’t matter to me. How many iPhones Apple sells *this* quarter, the First Quarter, the Western World Holiday Quarter, is what matters to me. Look at that chart:

    47.8 to 51.0 for the iPhone 5 and 5S: good numbers
    74.5 to 74.8 for the iPhone 6 and 6S: that’s a massive jump

    I don’t expect another 40% jump for this “two-year cycle”, because the iPhone 7 is not to the iPhone 6 what the iPhone 6 was to the iPhone 5. The iPhone 6 was *bigger*. It was madly anticipated. It was the wished for result. The iPhone 7 is the same size. The iPhone 8 is the one that is reported/expected to be “the next big thing”. But I bought an iPhone 7, because my iPhone 6 was long in the tooth and I wanted to go from the 6 to the 7 Plus and to teh 3D Touch and the new Touch ID button and the new camera. (Still impatiently waiting for it to arrive, dammit, but I needed real field data on the Intel antenna vs the Qualcomm antenna, and used that data to choose an unlocked Qualcomm phone on the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program – to give myself the flexibility I may want next year!)

    I’m still thinking that a 10-15% upside for the iPhone 7 is not at all unreasonable for December 2016, reported in January 2017. There’s older phones that iPhone 6’s out there still looking to be upgraded. And for “this” quarter, September 2016, reported next week, I think 50 million is very doable. That’s more than a 10% upside, too.

    October 19, 2016
  4. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    For the September quarter, iPhone 7 supply more than any other factor will determine the reported unit sales number. Constrained supply conditions at the end of the period will impact reported unit sales. It’s quite possible more iPhones will have been sold through to consumers or end users in the September quarter than the company will report as units sold as Apple reduced channel supply of iPhone 6 series handsets but was unable to fully replace that channel supply with new iPhone 7 models by the end of the period.

    October 20, 2016

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