The iPhone Charts That Apple Will Like and Samsung Won't

Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg
Sales at an Apple store during the sales launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in Hong Kong, China, on Sept. 19, 2014. Apple stores attracted long lines of shoppers for the debut of the latest iPhones, indicating healthy demand for the bigger-screen smartphones.

The bigger screens yielded bigger results.

During the debut weekend of Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple sold more than 10 million units of the larger-screen devices, the company said today. That number topped last year's record of 9 million iPhone 5s and 5c units sold in the first three days of availability.

You can see from the chart below how Apple has managed to outdo itself on sales of new iPhones on opening weekends ever since the iPhone 3GS hit store shelves in 2009.

Sales of the iPhone 5s and 5c jumped in 2013, the first year that China was included in the initial rollout. You have to wonder how many more iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units Apple could have sold this weekend had the country been included again. In the meantime, the uncertainty over when the new devices will be sold in China has fueled a black market -- and led to fistfights. Shoppers at an Apple store near Yale University in Connecticut got into a scuffle as they stood in line to buy iPhones that they were going to resell in China. According to a story by Bloomberg News reporter Doni Bloomfield, the markup on these phones can "be upwards of 300 percent."

The absence of China, along with concerns over production shortages, led to a wide range of sales estimates by analysts, Bloomberg News reporter Tim Higgins wrote. One analyst's projection had sales as high as 15 million units.

Separately, phone-insurance firm SquareTrade subjected the new iPhones to its breakability test, which includes submerging the devices in water and dropping them repeatedly from 4 feet high. On a scale from 1 to 10 (a higher number means it's at a higher risk), here's how Apple performed, compared with its arch-rival Samsung Electronics. A spokesperson for the South Korean tech giant declined to comment.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has been under the gun to reignite sales growth and the iPhone, should enjoy this moment while he can. With expectations always high, he'll be under pressure again next year to keep these charts moving in the right directions.

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