Apple's iPhones reached record sales in the fourth quarter of last year. IT news service CNET on Tuesday said Apple sold between 54 and 55 million iPhones from October to December 2013.
Fortune magazine believes Apple sold as many as 55.3 million.
The previous quarterly sales record was 47.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. In the fourth quarter of 2011, when Apple founder Steve Jobs died, iPhone sales totaled 37 million units. Sales usually peak in the fourth quarter since Apple unveils new models in September.
Apple usually unveils only one high-end smartphone a year but last year launched both high-end and mid-range phones. The high-end iPhone 5S targeted customers in advanced countries, while the mid-priced iPhone 5C was aimed at China and other emerging markets.
Analysts said the new strategy appears to have paid off.
It remains to be seen whether the upward trend will continue this year. CNET projected iPhone sales in the first quarter of this year to fall to less than 45 million and even further to 35 million in the second. The reason is that rival smartphone makers usually release their new products between February and March, which will eat into Apple's sales.