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Circuit Breaker

Apple says the iPhone XR is its best-selling phone, but doesn’t provide sales figures

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Context is king

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Apple vice president of product marketing Greg Joswiak has commented in an interview with CNET that the iPhone XR has “been our most popular iPhone each and every day since the day it became available,” seemingly in an attempt to downplay analyst reports earlier this week that the iPhone XR was performing worse than Apple had intended.

It’s the first official word from Apple as to how the new iPhones are performing. It arrives at a time when the company’s lineup now includes its priciest phones ever — even the “budget” $750 XR costs more than any base model iPhone ever has — along with reports of slashed shipment orders earlier this month that have led to concerns that sales may be down.

And while the XR may in fact be Apple’s best-selling iPhone, the issue is that Apple isn’t giving any hard numbers as to how many iPhones it’s selling. Without concrete data, there’s no way to know if the XR is a runaway success or just selling better than even weaker numbers for the pricier XS and XS Max. Both of the pricier phones are just updated versions of last year’s X, suggesting they could be selling worse than expected, making the XR’s sales seem stronger in comparison.

That said, while there’s plenty of speculation as to Apple’s iPhone future, there may not be real reason for concern, at least where Apple is concerned. After all, there were similar reports of cut down shipment orders before with last year’s iPhone X, that ultimately turned out to have resulted in drastically increased revenue for the company despite flatter unit sales. And Apple’s strategy in general has seemed to shift toward selling fewer, more lucrative devices than a race to the bottom, which may not be a bad thing.

Unfortunately, chances are that the industry and Wall Street will have to get used to this kind of iPhone uncertainty. Even if revenue is up when Apple announces its next quarterly earnings, it’ll be hard to make a judgement call as to how well the new iPhones are really doing, seeing as Apple decided not to reveal unit sales for its devices going forward.