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How Many iPhones Did Apple Sell In Q4?

As we approach Apple's quarterly earnings call scheduled for October 25, and US carriers begin to report their earnings for last quarter, Wall Street analysts are eager to post their estimates of iPhone sales for Q4 this year. Has the iPhone met expectations, or fallen short of sales estimates?

Now depending on how you look at it: Apple is likely to either sell more iPhones than the estimates if you consider the lowest sales forecast, or fail to meet expectations if you are looking at the highest sales estimate.

Verizon said it activated 3.4 million Android smartphones during the third quarter of 2012, and 3.1 million iPhones. The most interesting part of that is that 21%, or about 650,000, were iPhone 5 units sold in just nine days.

We are expecting AT&T's and Sprint's quarterly reports, to get a cleaner image of how iPhone sales performed during the past three months, but obviously this won't help us get the full picture.

Until Apple reveals the official data, here are some Wall Street estimates coming from 60 individual and professional analysts. The lowest forecast was submitted by an independent analyst with 21 million iPhone units while the highest was 33 million, submitted by Anil Doradia of William Blair. This makes the average of both groups to be 26.4, and the median 27 million.

After taking into consideration a great quarter like the fiscal Q2 of 2012, and a bad one like Q3 when Apple sold 26 million iPhone units, predicting fiscal Q4 sales is a bit tricky. Apple released the iPhone 5 and sold 5 million units during the first 72 hours, but faced supply shortages due to Foxconn's inability to meet demand.

Before the launch of the iPhone 5, smartphone buyers were on standby, so that pushed iPhone sales down. However, the launch as always wasn't totally smooth. As customers got their hands on the new device, complaints began flooding Apple Support Communities and the blogosphere, starting with Apple Maps and then iOS 6 Wi-Fi issues. However, Apple has dealt with similar issues in the past with the 4s (antenna issue), and still came out fairly unscathed.

Furthermore there were some quality issues as well with the iPhone 5, such as users receiving their device scratched out of the box. This flood of negative feedback is likely to affect the overall iPhone 5 sales, and iPhone sales in general.

Here you can see the analysts' individual estimates with the pros in blue and the amateurs in green.

iPhone estimations

All that's left to do is to wait and see whether iPhone users have stayed loyal to Apple and continued their support of the iPhone regardless of the flaws, or are starting to get annoyed with bugs out-of-the-box and considering a switch.

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