Apple sells record 13 million iPhones in first weekend for 6S, 6S Plus

The total exceeds the 10 million sold in the opening weekend last year for the previous versions of Apple's smartphone.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
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The iPhone 6S launch sites included Paris. Stephen Shankland/CNET

The iPhone phenomenon endures.

Apple said Monday it sold 13 million iPhone 6S and 6S Plus units from Friday through Sunday, the first three days of sales.

The tally represents a record for Apple, which sold 10 million iPhones over the same period a year ago when the previous models hit stores.

This weekend's sales continue the momentum for Apple's smartphones, which contribute roughly two-thirds to the Cupertino, California, company's revenue. Apple's success stands in contrast with the broader mobile industry, which has been beset by slowing growth and increased competition from cheaper handsets.

"Sales for iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus have been phenomenal, blowing past any previous first weekend sales results in Apple's history," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

Watch this: iPhone 6S and 6S Plus get 3D Touch, faster processors, better cameras

Apple launches have typically seen huge early numbers because of pent-up demand for the latest-model iPhones, so one weekend's sales aren't necessarily an indication of long-term success. But last year's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which brought a larger display and new design, stayed hot after a strong start and went on to become the company's best-selling smartphones.

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, unveiled three weeks ago, offer few design changes, although Apple added a sharper camera and a pressure-sensitive display that better responds to touch. Also helping the launch was Apple's move to offer the new iPhones in China at the same time they debuted elsewhere. Last year, China was not part of the initial launch weekend because the phones didn't yet have regulatory approval.

Apple iPhone 6S global launch (pictures)

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This year's opening weekend brought the new iPhones to a dozen countries and territories. Besides China, the locations included the US, the UK, Australia, Japan, Singapore and France.

As usual, Apple fans showed up at stores around the world early, with queues forming days ahead of time in Sydney and San Francisco, though many of the lines were shorter than in years past. There were some wrinkles as well. New Yorkers had to contend with crowds both at Apple stores and for Pope Francis, who was in the city as part of his US tour.

The weekend numbers indicate that Apple sold more iPhones on a per-country basis than a year ago, according to Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um. "This may validate Tim Cook's comments that China continues to see strength," he said.

On Monday, Apple said it will start selling the new phones on October 9 in 40 additional markets, including Russia, Spain, Italy, Mexico and Taiwan.

The revenue from this year's launch weekend will be recorded in two separate fiscal quarters. Sales completed by Saturday will be included in the September quarter, the fourth of Apple's fiscal year, and those completed on Sunday will be counted in the first quarter of Apple's fiscal 2016.