iPhone Named World’s Most Popular Smartphone Last Year

iPhone was the world's most popular smartphone last year, in terms of global shipments, according to research firm IHS Markit.


iPhone 6s Plus took the top spot as the most-shipped smartphone in the world in 2016, trailed by the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone 6s, based on research from IHS Markit's Smartphone Shipment Database, which tracks quarterly shipment data for more than 350 smartphone models.

Samsung's Galaxy S7 edge took the fifth spot, followed by the low-cost Galaxy J3 and several other Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S7. Notably absent was the Galaxy Note7, which was recalled last year due to safety concerns after some units were found to have defective batteries.

Apple's lead over Samsung is impressive given that the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge were launched in March 2016, around six months prior to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in September. The mid-range Galaxy J3, Galaxy J5, and Galaxy J7 also preceded the latest iPhone models when they launched in April 2016.


The above chart makes it hard to determine exactly how many shipments each smartphone model had last year, but it looks like the iPhone 6s Plus had somewhere around 60 million shipments, while the Galaxy S7 edge and other Samsung smartphones appear to be around the 25 million mark.

IHS Markit did not immediately respond to a request for exact shipment figures, but this article will be updated accordingly when we hear back.

Oppo's A53, a popular smartphone in markets such as China and India, was the only smartphone not manufactured by Apple or Samsung to make the list. Huawei, the world's third largest smartphone maker after Samsung and Apple, did not have any of the top ten smartphones shipped last year, IHS said.

Apple's iPhone 6s was similarly declared the world's most-shipped smartphone in the second quarter of 2016 by research firm Strategy Analytics, ahead of the iPhone 7, and if IHS Markit's data is accurate, then Apple's last-generation smartphone remained most popular through to the end of last year.

It is important to acknowledge that these are estimated figures, and that shipments do not necessarily reflect sales. Apple does not break out iPhone sales on a model-by-model basis in its quarterly earnings results.

Related Roundups: iPhone 6s, iPhone 7
Tag: IHS
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Neutral)

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5.8-Inch iPhone Expected to Have Flat Display Despite ‘Curved’ Rumors

Apple is widely expected to launch a 5.8-inch iPhone with an edge-to-edge OLED display later this year, made possible by slimmer bezels and no Home button. And while some reports have claimed the screen will be curved, a growing number of sources expect the device to stick with a flat display.


"We anticipate Apple will adopt a flat implementation of OLED design on their special iPhone model, which is analogous to the current 2.5D glass design," IHS Markit analyst Wayne Lam, who researches and analyzes the supply chain of smartphone makers such as Apple, told MacRumors today.

"Much like the recently announced LG G6, we anticipate a touchscreen with a new longer aspect ratio design to take advantage of higher coverage area of the iPhone in its entirety. This new design language is expected to become the trend for 2017, as we all anticipate Samsung's reveal later this month," he added.

Lam is referring to the LG G6's 5.7-inch LCD display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, meaning the screen's length is double the size of its width. iPhones have a 16:9 aspect ratio. Likewise, leaked pictures of Samsung's Galaxy S8 reveal a similarly longer display with slim bezels and no physical home button.

Last month, he explained how the LG G6 achieves a large screen while remaining holdable and pocketable:
LG’s G6 is a study in creating large immersive screen designs that do not break the ergonomic requirements of the average human hand. By addressing dueling consumer demands for larger screens but yet more pocketable device, LG took on the challenge of re-imagining what a modern smartphone should look like and function ergonomically.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Chinese research firm TrendForce have also recently said they expect Apple's next flagship iPhone to have a 2.5D display, which refers to the slightly curved edges that iPhone displays have had since the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 2014.

The Wall Street Journal recently said Apple's next high-end iPhone will have a curved screen, but the report did not divulge any specific details. The Korea Herald also said the device will have a curved OLED display based on a flexible plastic substrate, rather than glass, which is typically used for flat displays.

Kuo and IHS Markit analyst Kevin Wang previously expected the 5.8-inch iPhone to have a curved screen, possibly with dual curved edges like the Galaxy S7 edge, but each source has since reversed course, which is understandable given Apple has reportedly tested at least ten different iPhone prototypes this year.

Japanese website Nikkei Asian Review and Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis have also outlined expectations for an iPhone with a curved display in the past, so there is clearly a divide between the rumors that might not clear up until "iPhone 8" part leaks likely begin to surface over the coming weeks and months.

One possibility is that reports calling for a "curved" screen are actually referring to the 2.5D cover glass, as seen in previous iPhone rumor cycles. Also, given the flexible properties of OLED, some reports might be simply assuming the next iPhone will have a curved display, when a flat design is still an option.

IHS Markit expects Apple to use OLED on a larger number of iPhone models in the future. Lam noted the longer aspect ratio will afford Apple new uses of the display, such as Touch Bar-like functionality. He also expects the 5.8-inch iPhone to have Touch ID embedded in the display, in line with previous rumors.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tag: IHS

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10.5-Inch iPad Pro Said to Have 2,224×1,668 Display With Same Pixel Density as 9.7-Inch Model

Apple's rumored 10.5-inch iPad Pro will have a higher resolution of 2,224×1,668 pixels, while maintaining the same pixel density as the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro, according to IHS Markit director of tablets and PCs Rhoda Alexander, who shared her expectations for the upcoming tablet with Forbes over the weekend.


Specifically, a 10.5-inch iPad Pro at 2,224×1,668 would have 264 PPI, equal to the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro at 2,048×1,536.

The article actually quoted Alexander as saying the 10.5-inch iPad Pro will have a 2,024×1,668 resolution, but she confirmed to MacRumors that this was a typo and that she indeed expects a resolution of 2,224×1,668.

If the 10.5-inch iPad Pro does in fact end up having the same pixel density as the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro, that would go against another mathematically possible scenario in which the tablet could have the same 2,732×2,048 resolution as the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with the same pixel density as the iPad mini 4.

In line with existing rumors, Alexander said the 10.5-inch iPad Pro will have slimmer bezels that allow it to have the same overall footprint as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. She reportedly expects the 10.5-inch iPad Pro to "arrive in the March-April timeframe," which lines up with Apple's rumored March event.

Japanese blog Mac Otakara said Apple will release four new iPad Pro models at a March event. The report said the 10.5-inch model may not ship until May, while new 7.9-inch, 9.7-inch, and 12.9-inch models are said to ship in March. DigiTimes likewise said the 10.5-inch iPad Pro may not come until May-June.

Alexander also said Apple's rumored low-cost 9.7-inch iPad Pro could start at $299, which would be $100 cheaper than the iPad Air 2. It could supplant the iPad mini 4, which Alexander said may not be updated. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the low-cost model could have an older A9X chip.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Tag: IHS
Buyer's Guide: 12.9" iPad Pro (Caution)

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Apple Said to Shift to Lower Power IGZO Displays for MacBook Pro Later This Year

Apple will shift to indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) material for MacBook Pro displays as soon as later this year, according to IHS. The research firm told DigiTimes that Apple may continue to procure MacBook Pro displays based on current amorphous silicon (a-Si) material until the end of the first quarter.

2016_macbook_pro_lineup
The report claims Samsung and Sharp will begin supplying IGZO panels to Apple as soon as mid-2017. Sharp began mass production of IGZO displays in 2012, but evidence points towards Apple only using the material in iPads so far. A rumor claiming the first IGZO MacBooks would launch by 2014 proved to be inaccurate.

IGZO is a semiconducting material that has forty times more electron mobility than the standard a-Si used as the active layer of an LCD screen, allowing for less power consumption, improved touch sensitivity, and increased pixel density, which could pave the way for higher resolution displays.

DisplayMate president Raymond Soneira told us IGZO can also result in "significantly higher brightness," but the material costs "considerably more" to manufacture. Production and yield issues have slowed the adoption of IGZO, but the material is now showing up in more products such as LG's new OLED TVs.

"Sometimes IGZO is simply referred to as Metal Oxide," he added. "The higher the PPI and the wider the Color Gamut (like DCI-P3 for the new MacBook Pro) the greater the benefits of IGZO over a-Si, particularly for LCDs."

The glass edge and backplane circuitry of IGZO displays can also be made smaller, possibly leading to a thinner MacBook Pro. However, such a design change is less likely this year given Apple just redesigned the notebook in 2016 for the first time in four years. Apple's interest likely lies in the power savings.

The original iPad Air's overall size and battery were reduced by around 25% compared to the previous model, and analysis suggested the tablet's new IGZO display made that possible. However, a smaller MacBook Pro battery would likely be perceived negatively following battery life complaints on 2016 models.

Given the timeline, Apple's switch to IGZO displays may be planned for the next-generation MacBook Pro. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said new MacBook Pro models will launch in the second half of 2017, possibly with 32GB of RAM and slightly faster Kaby Lake processors unveiled this week.

IHS estimates Apple will order 9.7 million MacBook Pro display panels in 2017, an increase from 8.8 million units in 2016.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tags: IGZO, IHS
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

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