Apple missed iPhone sales estimates, but it's making more money from iPhones than ever before

Key Points
  • Apple sold 46.89 million iPhones during the quarter ended Sept. 30.
  • Apple's average selling price was $793, crushing analyst estimates of $750.93.
  • The company may have missed sales estimates, but more expensive iPhone models are driving profit higher than ever.
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Apple sold 46.89 million iPhones during the quarter ended Sept. 30. This company revealed the number in its earnings report Thursday.

Analysts were looking for 47.5 million iPhones during the quarter, according to StreetAccount and FactSet. But Apple is proving the average selling price (ASP) of each iPhone is more important. Apple's iPhone ASP during the quarter was was $793, a huge jump from $618 in the year-ago quarter. Analysts expected Apple's ASP to come in at $750.78, which means this is a huge beat for Apple.

The increase is largely due in part to Apple's introduction of more expensive iPhones. It launched the $999 iPhone X last year and, in Sept., introduced the new iPhone XS which starts at $999 and the iPhone XS Max, which costs $100 more. Keep in mind that sales of the more affordable iPhone XR, which launched in Oct., were not included in the report and so don't factor into the ASP.

In short, even though Apple's iPhone unit sales growth is slowing, it almost doesn't matter. The company is making a lot more profit on each iPhone sold thanks to the latest, pricey models.

CNBC's Steve Kovach contributed to this report.

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