Most analysts agree that Apple’s most expensive smartphone to date — the iPhone X — has not sold as well as had been hoped. Released last year at a cost of $1,000, the X was a bold move by the U.S. tech giant, intended to increase revenue amid falling global smartphone sales. Given Apple’s stellar sales record, figures for the U.S. tech giant’s premium smartphone have fallen well short of expectations. And for most consumers, the $1,000 price tag appears to be the problem — except if you’re in China.

The $1,000 Gamble

Globally, Apple has shipped far fewer units of the X than projected. A recent Bloomberg report claims that Samsung, the chosen supplier of the X’s new OLED screens, has only shipped half the amount of displays it had prepared for Apple. As a result, many of those displays may now end up in Android handsets instead.

In the U.S., customers have tended to prefer the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the X’s cheaper cousins, while European customers have similarly shown a reluctance to buy into the X’s hype. But despite intense competition from domestic brands, the X is popular among China’s affluent urban population.

“The iPhone X is doing much better than we’d expected in China, given the high ticket price,” said Mengmeng Zhang of Counterpoint Research. “The X is also performing better in China than in other markets.”

The underlying reasons for a lukewarm global reception to the X have been subject to intense speculation in recent weeks, with analysts blaming factors as varied as its steep price point, screen notch and lack of innovation. In any case, the numbers haven’t been good. During its last earnings call, Apple reported global sales of 77.3 million iPhones in Q1 of 2018, down just under a million from the same period in 2017.

Revenue still increased during the period thanks to the increased profit margin of the iPhone X, but sales were still more tepid than analysts had predicted. Its relatively late release date also meant the iPhone X had a much smaller window between product launch and the introduction of its toughest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S9.

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