With the iPhone XR, Apple Has Leverage over Android in the UK

iPhones can be found just about everywhere already, but they are continuing to get even more popular in the UK. Since the iPhone XR came out last September it debuted as the most affordable phone of Apple’s three newest models and has quickly become the best-selling mobile device in the UK. Though it does make some compromises to achieve its price, many of its features are taken from Apple’s more expensive phone models. 

This has not only pleased consumers in the UK, it has made the iPhone XR more appealing than Androids in many markets. According to a new report by market observers Kantar, the iPhone XR is the most popular phone in the UK, far outselling Apple’s pricier models like the XS and XS Max. Contrary to the initial expectations, the phone accounted for 39 percent of all iPhone sales in the final months of 2018.

The phone’s features are one of the reasons why it is so popular. You can get the most up-to-date specs without the price tag. It has 6-inch screen and state-of-the-art water resistance. It comes with 3GB of RAM and a 12-megapixel sensor. With the same A12 Bionic chipset and camera as the more expensive phones and what Apple says is the longest battery life of any iPhone, the XR has become enticing for consumers around the world. 

While Apple already dominated the market share of phones, the XR has increased their sales to over 50 percent after debuting the iPhone XR. According to the site MoneyPug, a price comparison platform used to find mobile phone deals, the company has edged out Samsung’s Android. Currently one in ten smart phones sold in the US was the XR. Samsung, on the other hand, is simply competing for market share in both the US and the UK. 

However, Samsung remains the number one phone provider across wider Europe. Their share of the five biggest European markets remained in the last quarter of business. Some of their more expensive phones are their best sellers, contrasting with Apple’s sale of cheaper models. With increases in sales in Italy and Spain and the launch of the Galaxy S10, Samsung solidified their position as the number one phone provider across the continent. They also expect sales to stay the same next quarter. 

Similar to phone sales, Apple’s operating system, the iOS, gained significant share of the market in the US but has decreased in Europe. While the iOS only takes up 20 percent of the market in Europe, it has 49.2 percent of the market share in the UK. 

One reason that Apple has remained so popular in the UK is that many consumers upgrade their phones to the latest model. By offering enticing upgrade deals and releasing the cheaper iPhone XR, Apple appears to be trying to keep old customers while pursuing new ones. The affordability of the XR has led to owners of older models purchasing this new one—just one percent of people who purchased the iPhone XR upgraded from an iPhone X. That means 99 percent of people who purchased the new phone had older models than the X or converted to Apple from other companies. Meanwhile 16 percent of iPhone X users upgraded to the XS and XS Max.

This tactic to diversify price points has worked, at least in the US and the UK. Only time will tell if it is effective elsewhere. Still, despite its relative affordability, even the iPhone XR isn’t cheap. No new iPhone is. Yet its more reasonable price than many expensive Samsung models has encouraged consumers in the UK to purchase the new phone with excitement. Since this strategy has worked in some markets, Apple may move towards producing cheaper phones to take advantage of an untapped markets in Europe and Asia. 

While it can’t be fully known, if they move in this direction the quality of phones could go down. The market always changes, and Apple can’t dominate the share in the UK forever. But they can increase sales in the rest of Europe, China, and other growing economies. As iPhones become more affordable, people everywhere will be buying more of them. But for now, especially in the UK, the XR is the most popular option.