How do you like them Apples? Farewell sensible sized phones, forever

Plus outsells regular iPhone for the first time

Some ominous news if you like your phones small and unobtrusive. Apple’s “Plus” model has outsold its regular iPhone sibling for the first time. Canalys estimates Apple shipped 5.4 million iPhone 8 units in Q3, but 6.3 million units of the larger iPhone 8 Plus.

“This makes the iPhone 8 Plus the first iPhone Plus model to out-ship its smaller sibling in a single quarter,” the market analyst estimates.

The ever expanding phone

Samsung led the charge into larger devices, and the market followed. Here’s a review of a Nokia from almost six years ago which notes “the market trend veering towards supersized phones – featuring 4.3in displays or larger”.

“From now on I’ll be calling smartphones with screens between 5 and 7 inches VLPs, or Very Large Phones,” our reviewer wrote in 2013.

Arguing that the entire display should be accessible with one hand, Apple followed the market only reluctantly. The original iPhone was a 3.5inch diagonal, becoming to a 4-inch display in 2012.

“Making calls on a phablet has always looked daft, and for the Apple faithful, 2014 could herald the year when the iPhone loses its cool,” we predicted, somewhat rashly as it turns out.

In 2014, with growth stalling and talk of “Peak Apple”, Cupertino finally gave the iPhone a larger, competitive display with a 4.7-inch diagonal and the introduction of a giant 5.5-inch Plus model. That unleashed a pent-up surge in demand.

In some markets, particularly China, users love the large displays, and the Plus is the only iPhone you will ever see.

Back to the present, Apple collectively shipped 11.8 million iPhone 8 and 8 Plus Canalys reckons, which falls well short of last year’s launch, which saw 14 million iPhone 7s shifted in the period. Well-heeled buyers saved their cash for the X, which only began shipping last week.

Apple grabbed the No.1 and No.2 spots worldwide with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus respectively. Over all Samsung shipped far more devices in Q3: 82.8 million, translating into a 22 per cent share (the largest of any manufacturer) and YoY growth of 8.2 per cent. Huawei took third place with 39.1 million shipped, behind Apple's 46.7 million.

But digging deeper into Canalys find, some cheer for fans of the smaller phone. The 4-inch SE is the smallest popular phone on the market and continues to do well: “Shipments of older devices, such as the iPhone 6s and SE, saw an uptick in Q3,” noted Canalys’ Ben Stanton.

Over in the Android world, if you like your devices pocketable, there's nothing to match the iPhone SE. However, Sony has revived the “Compact” - which in reality is a 4.6-inch diagonal display. But that’s as small an Android as you’re going to get, without getting ridiculous. ®

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