Apple iPhone sales beat estimates but are still down versus last year

on Oct31
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Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., speaks about the new iPhone 11.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple reported iPhone revenue of $33.36 billion for its fiscal fourth quarter on Wednesday. Analysts were expecting revenue to come in at $32.42 billion.

iPhone revenue for the quarter was down 9% year over year, but up from the third quarter when iPhone revenue came in at $25.99 billion.

Apple stopped breaking out iPhone unit sales as of this year as it tries to shift the narrative for investors toward services revenue. But the iPhone remains an important piece of the puzzle for Apple, which introduced its newest line, the iPhone 11, in the last few weeks of the quarter.

Some analysts are expecting an iPhone sales bump to come from future quarters once Apple releases an anticipated 5G phone. Prior to Apple’s earnings release, Nikkei Asian Review reported that Apple is planning to ship at least 80 million new 5G iPhones, citing a source familiar with the plans.

Such a move could entice a significant number of iPhone customers to upgrade their current models, as many have hung onto old phones for longer periods of time. Piper Jaffray recently found that of 1,050 current iPhone owners surveyed, 23% would upgrade to a $1,200 5G iPhone, up from 18% of respondents a few months earlier. The firm said it expects iPhone unit sales to remain steady as some customers hold out for the 5G phones.

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