30 million people bought “the worst iPhone ever”: Apple’s cult-like influence on the phone market

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
30 million people bought “the worst iPhone ever”: Apple’s cult-like influence on the phone mar

After the launch of Apple’s iPhone 14 series, tech outlets were pretty vocal about how insignificant of an upgrade the vanilla iPhone 14 was compared to the iPhone 13. In fact, you could argue the iPhone 14 was the worst-reviewed iPhone in recent history - not because it’s a bad phone, but because it’s basically an iPhone 13 clone. An iPhone 13.5 if you will.

Speaking for myself, I called the iPhone 14Apple’s worst upgrade ever”, and told you it was “the worst purchase you could make” back in March of 2023. And I stand by what I said - at least at the time and excluding any special sales/offers.

Fast forward to today when Canalys’ list of the top 10 best-selling smartphones worldwide is out, what is arguably the worst iPhone upgrade ever, is also the best-selling vanilla flagship phone of 2023.


Jokes aside, the fact that Apple simply doesn’t seem to be capable of making a wrong move is a bit… scary. At this point, I’m convinced no matter how hard Cupertino tries (or doesn’t try), people will keep buying the new iPhone. Even if it goes back to having a single camera, an LCD display, and a notch.

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To top it all off, Apple was last year’s number one smartphone vendor, which is a precedent. And to bottom it off, Android flagships aren’t even at the bottom of the bestsellers list.

But how far can Apple go?

Jaw-dropping sales figures show iPhone might be the only flagship phone that matters in 2024: What about Android?

Despite Google and Samsung’s persistent push for innovative AI features, and historic commitment to software support, the numbers speak for themselves - the iPhone might be the only flagship phone that matters in 2024.

Of course, that’s not the whole picture, making such a verdict unfair, but still - what does it mean? Well, here are a few key takeaways I was able to come up with. Please, feel free to add yours in the comments:

The iPhone is untouchable when it comes to sales, and that’s not exactly great for the smartphone industry

See, the iPhone 15 series is a killer upgrade, which means you are getting a great phone no matter which iPhone 15 model you choose. In other words, Apple’s incredible numbers are there for a reason. But then you remember the comparatively unimpressive iPhone 14 was the best-selling vanilla flagship of 2023, which makes Apple’s dominance a bit scary.

Does Cupertino have too much power and influence? Most certainly. We’ve seen this play out a number of times: Apple makes controversial changes to the iPhone, and Android phones follow, because it’s the trend.

That’s not to say that Apple can’t be a good role model as the industry leader. Although I’d argue some of the iPhone’s best features haven’t become an integral part of Android phones, like MagSafe and Face ID, for example.

Galaxy S24 and Pixel 8 are the best flagships Samsung and Google have ever made, but does that matter if they can’t find mainstream success?

As Adrian points out in his news piece, compared to the iPhone 15, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 series of flagships had an additional seven months on the market in 2023.

Despite that, the Galaxy S23 flagships haven’t come close to the iPhone 15’s jaw-dropping 70-80 million units sold. In fact, like previous years, Samsung’s S23 flagships haven’t made the top 10 at all. And you know that if the Galaxy doesn’t touch the iPhone in sales, the Pixel has zero chance of doing so.

It makes you wonder - where do Samsung and Google find the inspiration to keep going? Certainly not in strong flagship sales.

Killer iPhone 15 upgrade will inevitably top the sales charts in 2024 - can Android do anything to change that?

The somewhat surprisingly successful iPhone 14 aside, the killer iPhone 15 series is well on the way to at least reaching (and why not topping) the commercial success of its predecessor. Of course, this makes you wonder - can Samsung, Google, or another phone-maker do anything to challenge Apple?

No matter how much I like the Galaxy S24 series and their AI superpowers, and even if I think my Pixel 8 Pro is the best-looking flagship I’ve seen in a while, the truth is that Android flagships might be a bit… doomed.

Apple’s momentum will be hard to challenge. Especially if you consider how mediocre of an upgrade the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus were - yet, the former managed to sell incredibly well.

Total dominance: Can Galaxy S24 help Samsung make a comeback, or will Apple get ten iPhones into the top ten best-selling phones list in 2024?

As for the Galaxy S24 series, my guess is that the Galaxy S24 Ultra won’t sell as well as Samsung would like it to, because it’s more expensive than before. Yes, even if it’s arguably the best phone money can buy right now, and even if it broke some of Samsung’s sales records at home (South Korea).

As for the iPhone 16 series, Apple has challenged itself big time. Like I mentioned in the beginning of the story, I didn’t cut Apple any slack for the poor iPhone 14 upgrade. But now that the iPhone 15 is light years ahead of the iPhone 14, iPhone 16 might turn out to be a good offer even if it doesn’t wow anyone.

Making money and pushing innovation is possible after all: Tim Cook has turned Apple into the ultimate machine

Believe it or not, Apple became the world’s number one phone-maker in a calendar year (2023) for the first time in history… In the year of the iPhone 14… What?!

Apart from that, Cupertino is running circles around the competition in the premium laptop market, dominates the tablet market, and leads the wearable market too (with AirPods and Apple Watch). The cherry on top is that the revolutionary Vision Pro headset Apple just launched is selling better than expected - even at the mouth-watering starting price of $3,500.

Whether you use an iPhone (or any other Apple product) or not, it’s hard to deny - it’s Apple’s (virtual) world and we’re living in it. Love it or hate it. So, my congrats go out to whoever is pulling the business strings at Apple.

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