Apple totally crushed it in China during the first few months of iPhone 12 5G sales

Apple totally crushed it in China during the first few months of iPhone 12 5G sales
If you thought Apple's iPhone 12 family performed well at the US box-office during its first few weeks of commercial availability, wait until you hear how many of these 5G-enabled bad boys were reportedly sold in China in Q4 2020.

Are you ready? According to Digitimes-quoted "data available from the local media" (via MacRumors), the iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max racked up a combined 18 million unit shipments between October and December in the world's most populous country, which just so happens to be the single largest smartphone market out there as well.

The iPhone 11 series is a distant memory


Of course, the four new Apple A14 Bionic-powered high-enders were not available for the entire duration of last year's final quarter, which makes this already impressive feat that much more remarkable. Just like stateside, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and 12 Pro went on sale in China on October 23, followed by the diminutive 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini and the jumbo-sized 6.7-inch Pro Max several weeks later.


Still, that was undoubtedly more than enough to surpass the regional full-quarter sales numbers of the iPhone 11 trio from back at the end of 2019. We know that because Canalys reported almost a year ago that Apple shipped just a little over 10 million handsetsin total in China during the last three months of 2019, down from 11.5 million units the year before.

The company's market share sat at a relatively modest 11.8 percent, which the iPhone 12 lineup has apparently been able to boost to more than 20 percent of the huge local pie in Q4 2020. 

In case you're wondering, Apple couldn't find much Chinese success ahead of the iPhone 12 launch either, wrapping up last year's second and third calendar quarters with 8.5 and 8.3 percent shares of overall smartphone shipments respectively.

The name of the game is 5G


Clearly, this incredible (and incredibly sudden) success story has a lot to do with 5G, which is far more prevalent in China than many Western markets. More than 50 percent of all smartphones sold in the region during Q3 2020, for instance, came with a 5G connection, the vast majority of which were manufactured by local companies like Huawei, Vivo, and Oppo.

Speaking of, Apple's Q4 2020 rise unsurprisingly came at the expense of those same Chinese brands, which dropped from over 90 percent to around 78 percent of shipments as they finally faced stiff 5G-capable Western competition at a number of different price points.


Given that China's best-selling smartphone chart by model for the July - September 2020 period was largely dominated by budget-friendly devices with 5G support, it remains to be seen if the iPhone 12 mini was at least capable of performing well around those parts while flopping hard in the US.

Priced at a reasonable $699 and up stateside, Apple's first truly compact powerhouse in a long time is obviously the cheapest member of the iPhone 12 family on Chinese shores as well. The problem is the "regular"-sized, non-Pro model is only slightly more expensive worldwide, and considering the general local preference for "phablets", we don't have any real reason to expect big differences to be reported between the 12 mini's popularity in China and the US.

Meanwhile, Apple might find itself unable to keep up with regional demand for the iPhone 12 series if sales don't take a significant hit anytime soon due to a "widening shortage of semiconductors for handset parts." Then again, that sounds like a pretty nice problem to have compared to what the Cupertino-based tech giant has been facing in previous years.

Related phones

iPhone 12
  • Display 6.1 inches 2532 x 1170 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A14 Bionic RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2815 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x
iPhone 12 Pro
  • Display 6.1 inches 2532 x 1170 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A14 Bionic 6GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2815 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x
iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Display 6.7 inches 2778 x 1284 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A14 Bionic 6GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3687 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x
iPhone 12 mini
  • Display 5.4 inches 2340 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A14 Bionic RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2227 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x

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