In his latest note for TF Industries, Ming-Chi Kuo says that the overall market is extremely pessimistic of iPhone sales. He believes that in Q1, 2019, Apple will ship around 36-38 million iPhones led by increased demand in non-Chinese markets due to the attractive trade-in program currently being run by the company.
In Q2, 2019, Kuo expects iPhone sales to remain flat at around 34-37 million. Given that most major 2019 flagship devices will be out by or in early Q2, it is definitely a bold estimate from Kuo.
For Q3 and Q4 of this year, Kuo expects iPhone sales to remain flat year-on-year. Demand for 2019 iPhones will be strong thanks to replacement demand and will be driven by attractive trade-in schemes from carriers and network operators.
For the full calendar year of 2019, Kuo expects Apple to ship around 188-192 million iPhone units, though the market largely expects Apple to ship around 180 million iPhone units.
I do expect Kuo to miss his original estimate of Apple shipping 34-37 million iPhone units in Q2, 2019. With the Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7, and other notable flagships being released in the quarter, I expect iPhone shipments to take a bigger hit during that period.
With smartphone shipments falling and consumers sticking to their iPhone for longer, Apple and carriers will have to launch attractive trade-in schemes to attract new customers and get existing customers to upgrade. Apple is not going to do itself any favors by sticking with the same design language as the iPhone X/XS, though the switch to a triple-camera lens is expected to bring about a notable improvement in the imaging department.