Best-selling smartphones of all time — and one of them is an old Nokia

Apple’s iPhones dominate the rankings of the most sold smartphones of all time, but until the 2014 release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, it was the Nokia 5230 that held the record as the best-selling smartphone of all time.

It could be argued that the Nokia 5230, released in 2009, still holds its title if you count the sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus separately.

Unfortunately, there are no separate sales estimates available for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, making it difficult to prove one way or the other.

When Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus it significantly increased the screen size of its smartphones, owing to pressure from rivals like Samsung that were gaining market share with their larger displays.

The move paid off handsomely and Apple sold 222 million of these smartphones to date.

Another runaway success for Apple was the iPhone 11. It released in 2019 and is estimated to have sold over 100 million units to date, placing it at number three on these charts.

Other Apple smartphones in the top ten include the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and the iPhone 5.

Completing the top 10 are the formidable Samsung Galaxy S4, released in 2013, and the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S3 Mini.

Together these three Samsung devices have sold around 150 million units to date.

Apple iPhones

While Android-based smartphones from Samsung and Huawei are more common in South Africa, Apple is very popular in some of the biggest smartphone markets in the world — including its home ground of the United States.

According to Newzoo’s Global Mobile Market Report, the US has one of the highest penetration rates for smartphone users at over 80%.

With a market share of around 55% in a country with a population of more than 300 million people, it’s easy to see why Apple’s iPhones account for seven of the top ten touchscreen-based smartphones sold in the world.

Below are images, specifications, pricing, and the latest reported sales numbers of the top 10 best-selling smartphones of all time. The list does not include any feature phones, bar phones, or flip phones.

In rows where more than one specification is noted, the top refers to the higher-end model and the bottom to the lower-end variant.

This ranking is derived from statistics collected on the Wikipedia page for the list of best-selling mobile phones, which cites sales estimates from various sources all over the web.


1. Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (2014) — 222 million units

Apple iPhone 6
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Original OS iOS 8
Display 4.7-inch 750 x 1,334 IPS LCD
5.5-inch 1,080 x 1,920 IPS LCD
Processor Apple A8
RAM 1GB
Storage 16GB / 32GB / 64GB / 128GB
16GB / 64GB / 128GB
Rear camera 8MP
Front camera 1.2MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, Lightning, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Touch ID
Battery 1,810mAh
2,915mAh
Launch price R9,899
R10,999

2. Nokia 5230 (2009) — 150 million units

Nokia 5230
OS Symbian 9.4
Display 3.2-inch 360 x 640 TFT resistive LCD
Processor 434MHz ARM 11
RAM 128MB
Storage 70MB internal, MicroSDHC reader
Rear camera 2MP
Front camera
Connectivity and ports Bluetooth 2.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular 3G
Biometrics
Battery 1,320mAh
Launch price £119 (R2,300)

3. Apple iPhone 11 (2019) — 102.1 million units

Apple iPhone 11

Apple iPhone 11
OS iOS 13
Display 6.1-inch  828 x 1,792 IPS LCD
Processor  A13 Bionic
RAM 4GB
Storage 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Rear camera 12MP + 12MP
Front camera 12MP + 3D sensor
Connectivity and ports Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, Lightning
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Face ID
Battery 3,110mAh
Launch price R14,999

4. Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (2017) — 86.3 million units

iPhone 8

Apple iPhone 8
Apple iPhone 8 Plus
OS iOS 11
Display 4.7–inch 750 x 1,334 IPS LCD
5.5-inch 1,080 x 1,920 IPS LCD
Processor A11 Bionic
RAM 2GB
3GB
Storage 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Rear camera 12MP
12 MP + 12MP
Front camera 7MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Lightning
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Touch ID
Battery 1,821mAh
2,691mAh
Launch price R13,499
R15,499

5. Samsung Galaxy S4 (2013) — 80 million units

Samsung Galaxy S4
OS Android 4.2.2
Display 5.0-inch 1,080 x 1,920 OLED
Processor Exynos 5410 Octa
RAM 2GB
Storage 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, microSDXC card reader
Rear camera 13MP
Front camera 2MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11ac Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics
Battery 2,600mAh
Launch price R8,499

6. Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (2016) — 78.3 million units

Apple iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
OS iOS 10
Display 4.7-inch 750 x 1,334 IPS LCD
5.5-inch 1,080 x 1,920 IPS LCD
Processor Apple A10 Fusion
RAM 2GB
3GB
Storage 32GB / 128GB / 256GB
Rear camera 12MP
12MP + 12MP
Front camera 7MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, Lightning
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Touch ID
Battery 1,960mAh
2,900mAh
Launch price R12,999
R15,499

7. Apple iPhone XR (2018) — 77.4 million units

iPhone Xr 1

Apple iPhone XR
OS iOS 12
Display 6.1-inch 828 x 1,792 IPS LCD
Processor A12 Bionic
RAM 3GB
Storage 64GB / 128GB / 256GB
Rear camera 12MP
Front camera 7MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Lightning
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Face ID
Battery 2,942mAh
Launch price R16,999

8. Apple iPhone 5 (2012) — 70 million units

Apple iPhone 5
OS iOS 6
Display 4.0-inch 640 x 1,136 IPS LCD
Processor Apple A6
RAM 1GB
Storage 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
Rear camera 8MP
Front camera 1.2MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, Lightning, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular LTE
Biometrics
Battery 1,440mAh

9. Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini and Galaxy S3 (2012) — 70 million units

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini
Samsung Galaxy S3
OS Android 4.0
Display 4.0-inc 480 x 800 OLED
4.8-inch 720 x 1,280 OLED
Processor NovaThor U8420
Exynos 4412 Quad
RAM 1GB
Storage 8GB / 16GB, microSDHC card reader
16GB / 32GB / 64GB, microSDXC card reader
Rear camera 5MP
8MP
Front camera VGA
1.9MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Cellular 3G
3G (original)
Biometrics
Battery 1,500mAh
2,100mAh
Launch price R4,599
R7,500

10. Apple iPhone X (2017) — 63 million units

Apple iPhone X
OS iOS 11
Display 5.8-inch 1,125 x 2,436 OLED
Processor A11 Bionic
RAM 3GB
Storage 64GB / 256GB
Rear camera 12MP + 12MP
Front camera 7MP
Connectivity and ports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Lightning
Cellular LTE
Biometrics Face ID
Battery 2,716mAh
Launch price R20,499

Now read: iPhone vs Samsung prices in South Africa from 2011 to 2021

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Best-selling smartphones of all time — and one of them is an old Nokia