The Premium iPhone Takes the Throne

The 'Pro Max' iPhone leaps the standard model...
iPhone 15 Pro Max Best-selling Smartphone in Q1 2024
Apple and Samsung dominated the list of top 10 best-selling smartphones in Q1 2024.

While Apple's overall worldwide smartphone marketshare may be slipping, there is no doubt which phone remains at the top of the heap: the iPhone. But there may be an interesting trend at play within the iPhone's dominance.

Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Max was the best-selling smartphone of Q1 2024. Notably, the Pro Max variant achieved the top position for the first time in Apple’s non-seasonal quarter, reflecting an increasing trend of consumer preference for high-end smartphones. All four iPhone 15 variants and the iPhone 14 were among the top 10 bestsellers. Further, the iPhone 15 line-up secured the top three spots.

Obviously, always take these third-party results with a grain of salt, but even just the trend here is interesting. A year ago, according to Counterpoint, the iPhone 14 was the top selling device, followed by the iPhone 14 Pro Max, now that has reversed with the iPhone 15 lineup.

It's worth noting that the iPhone 15 Pro – i.e. the top of the line non-'Max' Pro – also grew share relatively speaking. While the iPhone 14 – i.e. "last year's iPhone" – fell quite a bit versus a year ago. And this isn't just an Apple thing. Samsung's S24 Ultra was the top phone for that company, whereas last year the non-Ultra was their best-seller.

One likely reason:

Consumers are holding onto their smartphones for longer periods because upgrades are offering limited differentiation in features. This leads consumers to opt for high-end smartphones to ensure their devices remain technologically relevant for a longer duration.

But going forward, it seems likely the highest of the high-end becomes even more important as AI becomes a bigger part of the equation (and selling point) for these devices. Even if the AI isn't limited to the most expensive phones, the tech will undoubtedly run better on the faster phones, especially if they carry more RAM.

Such a trend also potentially gives Apple more room to operate in order to move downmarket in emerging markets.