Apple launches new iPhones with big screens and dual-sim support as it bids to maintain global market share

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 9:34am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2018, 2:31pm

Apple has launched the latest iPhones, featuring its biggest smartphone yet as the world’s most valuable company seeks to maintain its global share and profitability.

At the Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino, California, Apple executives unveiled two premium upgrades called the 5.8-inch iPhone XS and 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max. There was also a cheaper device, the iPhone XR, which is a follow-up to the iPhone 8. All three of the new iPhones feature an edge-to-edge screen, like the current iPhone X, alongside a TrueDepth camera system that can be used for Face ID.

The two premium models come with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens, while the XR uses a cheaper liquid crystal display (LCD) screen. The OLED models will be on sale this month and the LCD model in October. They could all feature significantly improved battery life thanks to the new Apple-designed A12 processor.

Apple’s iPhone XS Max – what it feels like in your hand; plus XS, XR models

Apple is releasing its latest models at a time of declining global market share. In China, the world’s biggest smartphone market, Chinese challengers have chipped away at the lead of foreign brands by introducing features-laden models for a fraction of the price, targeting the vast segment of consumers who are not yet able to afford the top-range iPhones and Andropid handsets from Samsung Electronics.

China’s leading mobile phone brand, Huawei Technologies, outstripped Apple in global smartphone shipments in the second quarter this year, putting it in second place behind Samsung and signalling the rising popularity of its handsets around the world.

However, in a nod to the China market, where many users have more than one phone number and electronic sim cards are not allowed, Apple has introduced a dual-sim card tray for the new iPhone XS.

The iPhone XS Max has a starting price of US$1,099 for the 64-gigabyte device, making it the most expensive Apple handset ever. The new iPhone XR starts at US$749, a significant discount from the US$999 starting price for the existing iPhone X, as Apple bids to win back mid-market consumers.

The iPhone 6 achieved 60 million shipments in the six months from launch, making it Apple’s fastest-selling model ever. It took the iPhone X about 10 months to achieve 60 million shipments, according to the latest research by Counterpoint on Tuesday.

“With the introduction of a cheaper LCD model and higher-priced OLED models, the iPhone mix for Apple is likely to drive even more revenue as it enters a refreshed product cycle,” according to the Counterpoint report.

Huawei launches advanced 7-nanometre smartphone chip ahead of Apple, Samsung

Huawei became the world’s number two smartphone vendor in the second quarter, a long sought-after milestone for the company, after it shipped 54 million handsets, up 41 per cent year on year, Canalys said in an August 1 report.

Samsung remained the top vendor in the three-month period but posted an 8 per cent decline to 73 million shipments, while Apple fell to third, shipping 41 million iPhones with tepid year-on-year growth of one per cent.

Huawei’s success follows its stated ambition to ship 200 million handsets to both domestic and global markets in 2018 after shipping 100 million phones as of July 18, the fastest pace of shipments the Chinese company has seen in years.

Meanwhile, Huawei and Honor expanded their combined China market share to a record 27 per cent in the three months to June, up from 21 per cent during the same period a year ago, marking the biggest share for any smartphone vendor in China since the second quarter of 2011, Canalys said in an earlier report.