Apple: iPhone 8 Is Popular, But iPhone X Will Be a Star

Don't write off the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus just yet. Apple says its new phones are selling just fine, contradicting reports of tepid demand for the models.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus went on September 22. Since then, they've been the two most popular iPhone models, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Wall Street analysts during a call to discuss Apple's fiscal fourth quarter results today (Nov. 2).

Apple hasn't unveiled exact figures for iPhone 8 sales like it has for past iPhone launches, leading to some speculation that the new phones had failed to capture the imagination — and wallets — of consumers. But Apple met Wall Street expectations for phone sales during its fiscal fourth quarter, and the week-plus of iPhone 8 sales included in those numbers likely helped that.

For the three months ended Sept. 30, Apple sold 46.7 million phones, a 3 percent improvement over sales in the 2016 quarter. With iPhones accounting for 55 percent of Apple's fourth-quarter sales, the company reported revenue of $52.6 billion for the quarter. That's a 12 percent boost from last year.

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Apple doesn't break out which models are selling more than others. But Cook did say that the iPhone 8 Plus is off to "the fastest start of any Plus model," which would date back three years to the introduction of the iPhone 6 Plus. And last year at this time, Apple was touting the popularity of the iPhone 7 Plus.

For the first time in its 10-year-history of selling smartphones, Apple is launching its new iPhones in waves. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus both debuted in September and the iPhone X hits store shelves tomorrow. (In fact, during the call with analysts, the iPhone X officially went on sale in Australia with Cook noting reports that "several hundred people" were waiting outside Apple's store in Sydney to get their hands on the new phone.)

Apple has big expectations for the iPhone X, which is the first Apple phone to feature an OLED screen. It also introduces the Face ID unlocking feature and includes what Cooks described as "innovative new technologies that chart out our path for the next decade."

"We can't wait for people to experience our vision of the future," Cook said.

To that end, Apple is projecting revenue of $84 to 87 billion for its holiday quarter ending in December. That would be a significant jump from the $78 billion in sales Apple tallied during the holiday season last year.

A challenge facing Apple is the high price tag of the iPhone X — at a starting price of $999, it's one of the most expensive flagships on the market. But Cook sees two factors taking the sting out of that price. For one thing, a growing number of people buy their phones via monthly installments these days. With monthly payments, the iPhone X costs between $33 and $41 a month depending on which carrier you turn to, which is only a few dollars more per month than other leading flagships. For another, trade-ins of older iPhones reduce the price of the iPhone X even further.

MORE: Is the $999 iPhone X a Good or Bad Value?

"We're not trying to charge the highest price we can get," Cook said. "We try to price based on what we're delivering."

But will Apple be able to deliver the iPhone X to everyone who wants one? The phone has been selling out during pre-orders, suggesting not only a healthy demand for the iPhone X but constrained supplies as well. Cook wouldn't say when Apple expects to produce enough models to meet the iPhone X demand, only promising that the company was "working to get the iPhone into people's hands as quickly as possible."

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.