The Best Selling Smartphones Of 2016: Apple iPhone 6s Tops The Chart

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Good news for Apple, as a recent report by IHS Markit found that the Apple iPhone 6S was the best-selling smartphone of 2016. In fact, Apple achieved a clean sweep at the top, with the top 4 best selling smartphones of 2016.

Let’s have a more detailed look at the nitty-gritties of the report, and what it says about the state of the smartphone industry.

Apple Smartphones Still Dominate The Market

In what can be considered a significant victory for Apple, the top 4 spots on the bestseller list were occupied by Apple smartphones. Apple’s 2015 flagship, the iPhone 6S was the best-selling phone of 2016. It was followed by the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone 6S Plus in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place respectively. In total, about 60 million units of the iPhone 6S were shipped in 2016. This is a testament to Apple’s incredible staying power and innovative streak. The 6S managed to grab the top spot in 2016 despite being released in 2015, beating off competition from newer offerings from the likes of Samsung and others.


Apple’s latest flagship, the iPhone 7 stands at the second spot. However, this is by no means unexpected, since the iPhone 7 was released late in Q3 2016. If we look at the numbers for Q4 2016 alone, the iPhone 7 takes the lead by some margin. In fact, Apple beat arch rivals Samsung in the number of smartphones shipped in Q4 2016 for the first time in 5 years, thanks to iPhone 7 and iPhone 7S and Note 7 debacle. Apple also managed to pocket 92% of the total smartphone industry profit in Q4 2016! All in all, this rounds up an excellent year for Apple.

Samsung Still In A Strong Position Despite Some Hiccups

While Apple progressed strongly in 2016, their premier rivals Samsung have had a more mixed year. Samsung was hit hard in 2016 by the Note 7 fiasco. The disastrous launch and subsequent recall of the Note 7 set Samsung back quite a bit. As we reported earlier, Samsung lost nearly $2.3 billion within two months due to this debacle. This undoubtedly hurt Samsung’s sales and allowed Apple to gain ground on them.

However, not all things have been gloomy for Samsung. Despite the Note 7 fiasco, Samsung managed to retain consumer confidence. The recall of the Note 7 helped increase demand for Samsung’s S7 and S7 Edge offerings. Samsung’s aggressive promotions and bundle offers with the Gear VR also helped drive increased sales. According to the IHS Markit report, the combined shipments of S7 and S7 Edge in 2016 were 10 million higher than the combined shipments of S6 and S6 Edge during the same period.

Another bright spot for Samsung was their mid-tier J series smartphones. These mid-range smartphones sold very well in emerging markets and helped Samsung grab five spots out of the top 10 best- selling smartphones in 2016. In fact, the Samsung Galaxy J3 rivalled the S7 Edge, with both shipping 25 million units apiece in 2016. Overall shipments in 2016 also put down Samsung as the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.

New Challengers Emerge

The most significant feature of this report is the dominance of Apple and Samsung in the smartphone market. Over the years, these two behemoths have beaten off competition from the likes of LG, Sony and HTC to become what they are today. However, their dominance is set to be challenged by new players emerging in the market.


Leading the charge against them is Chinese manufacturer Huawei, who have grown rapidly and is the third largest smartphone maker in the world with a 10.2% market share in Q4 2016. Despite this, Huawei failed to secure a spot in the list of top ten bestselling smartphones for 2016. Despite launching few great devices, i.e. Huawei P9, the company is still yet to grab a sizable market share in emerging markets. The smartphone industry sales growth is primarily driven by these emerging marketers only and Huawei has to focus more on branding in B2C segment to come out from the skin of another Chinese component manufacturer.

Opp is the other emerging smartphone manufacturer, which claimed 6.7% of the market share in Q4 2016. Unlike their local rivals Huawei, OPPO did have one smartphone model on the bestseller list. The OPPO A53 ranks 7th on the list, with nearly 25 million shipments in 2016. However, unlike Huawei, OPPO have a more insular market base with more than 80% of their shipments being in China.


  • Apple’s iPhones are the most popular in the market, with the top 4 out of the ten best-selling smartphones being manufactured by Apple.
  • Samsung largest manufacturer of smartphones by shipments. They also claimed 5 spots out of the top 10 most shipped smartphones in 2016.
  • Huawei is rapidly gaining market share, with sales across the price spectrum.
  • OPPO posted impressive growth of 109% in smartphone shipments in 2016. However, they are limited by their smaller operating radius.


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