We’ve already heard several reports that suggest that the iPhone 12 has become the most popular 5G smartphone on the planet, but now a new report has shed some light as to exactly which model is the most popular, and you may be surprised by the news it offers.
As a whole, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models quickly eclipsed sales of other 5G smartphones by the end of October — only two weeks after they had first gone on sale. In fact, within a short time, they had collectively captured 24 percent of the global market share for 5G smartphones, with the more affordable iPhone 12 coming in at 16 percent while the iPhone 12 Pro accounted for eight percent. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G dropped to third place with only four percent within a matter of days after the new iPhone 12 models arrived.
While this didn’t come as much of a surprise to analysts, who had been predicting since late 2019 that Apple’s first foray into the 5G smartphone market would change the entire landscape, it happened faster than just about anybody expected, particularly since Apple hadn’t even finished releasing its entire iPhone 12 lineup at that point — the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max and 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini didn’t arrive until early November.
Apple clearly retained that momentum, however, with most iPhone 12 models still flying off the shelves, to the point where 9 out of 10 smartphones activated on Christmas Day were iPhones.
By the time Apple released its record-breaking quarterly earnings, analysts and other industry onlookers were ready to declare it the undisputed champion of the smartphone market, shipping somewhere between 82 million and 90 million iPhones in the holiday quarter alone.
The Leader of the Pack
Except for the beleaguered iPhone 12 mini, it’s clear that Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup is a big hit overall, but it may surprise you to discover that the most popular model in the U.S. isn’t the affordable iPhone 12, or even the more pocketable iPhone 12 Pro, but rather the gargantuan iPhone 12 Pro Max.
We actually got a glimmer of this on Christmas Day, where the largest model came out ahead of the rest of its siblings, taking up third place behind the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR, both of which naturally rose to the top thanks to their much more affordable price tags.
However, it was hard to say at the time if that was merely an aberration, particularly since the iPhone 12, which took fourth place in the Christmas roundup, may have been more easily beaten out by its wallet-friendly predecessors, especially when being considered as gifts.
However, a new report from PCMag reveals that this was likely part of a larger trend among U.S. consumers, and in fact the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the leading 5G smartphone in 49 out of 50 states — and in the one outlier, Vermont, it’s merely the iPhone 12 Pro that edges out its bigger brother, which also appears to be the case in Washington D.C.
The data cited by PCMag comes from Ookla and M Science, which use entirely different methods. While Ookla uses model data collected anonymously from its popular Speedtest app, and could therefore be somewhat skewed as users who don’t install Speedtest wouldn’t be included in the sample group, M Science has confirmed Ookla’s findings with cumulative sales data that it provided to PCMag up to January 23.
To be clear, this ranking is among 5G smartphones, specifically, so it doesn’t include other iPhone models like the 2020 iPhone SE, nor the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR, both of which Apple still sells. However, as we’ve already seen from numerous reports, the only smartphones that are beating out the iPhone 12 Pro Max in the overall marketplace are almost certainly just other non-5G iPhones.
In fact, the next two positions on the list are also taken up by Apple in all 50 states, with the iPhone 12 sitting in the number two position and the iPhone 12 Pro taking up third place in most of them.
Fourth and fifth place are occupied by Samsung’s Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra, respectively. PCMag notes, however, that this data was collected before Samsung’s release of the Galaxy S21, which began shipping on January 29.
Not surprisingly, the iPhone 12 mini doesn’t make the top five list at all, and in fact the sales have been so relatively poor for Apple’s diminutive 5.4-inch model that rumours of its cancellation have begun circulating. However, we think that’s highly unlikely, since Apple is well known for playing the long game, and there are lots of reasons why this first model hasn’t been as big of a hit, from its later initial release to the fact that nobody really knew it was coming on the heels of the 2020 iPhone SE.
Further, it’s not like the iPhone 12 mini hasn’t sold at all — while by most estimates it’s only made up for around 5 percent of Apple’s iPhone sales, that’s still nothing to shake a stick at when you consider that Apple sold over 200 million iPhones in 2020 alone.
That said, PCMag does suggest that there’s been a trend away from smaller premium phones, at least among U.S. consumers, noting that the small Galaxy S20 5G was also the least popular among Samsung’s 5G smartphones. It’s also far from being at the bottom of the 5G smartphone list, which PCMag also shared in its report, tagging LG’s Wing 5G, TCL’s 10 5G UW, the OnePlus Nord N10, Motorola Edge+, and Nokia 8 V 5G UW
While the report doesn’t specify which position the iPhone 12 mini was actually in, there’s an implication that it probably made the top 13, since it does note that the list is dominated by Apple and Samsung until the LG V60 ThinQ 5G shows up in 14th place.