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Apple is about to offer an early glimpse at iPhone 11 demand

Last month, Apple unveiled its iPhone 11 lineup, featuring what CEO Tim Cook called its “most powerful and most advanced” smartphones ever. On Wednesday, Apple is expected to offer an early hint about just how much demand there really is for these new devices.

Apple is scheduled to report its quarterly earnings results after the bell on Wednesday. The report will detail sales for the three months ending September 30, ten days after the newest iPhones hit shelves.

While that’s a limited window of time to judge by, analysts and investors will pay close attention to any commentary on the call about initial demand for the new models. Dan Ives, an analyst who tracks Apple for Wedbush, wrote in an investor note this week that “all eyes” will also be on Apple’s sales forecast for the all-important holiday quarter, when the company usually sells its largest number of iPhones.

To make matters more complicated: iPhone sales could be hampered if a 15% tariff on many consumer tech products is imposed in December, as the Trump administration has suggested it may do after previously delaying the tariff.

The iPhone remains Apple’s single biggest source of revenue. The success of the iPhone helped propel Apple to become the world’s most valuable company. But in recent quarters, Apple’s overall business has been dragged down by slumping iPhone sales.

Demand for the iPhone has been hurt by a slowdown in China amid the US-China trade war. It has also been limited by customers taking longer to upgrade their smartphones at a time when the latest iPhone models look awfully similar to the models available the year before, and the year before that.

The new iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max also have a similar look and feel to prior models. But the Pro models offer a better camera system and the baseline iPhone 11 has a more attractive starting price — $699 — than the previous year’s entry-level model.

Some analysts are optimistic. “There are a number of factors in play that give us confidence that iPhone replacement cycles may be in the process of stabilizing,” Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote in a note to investors last week. She pointed to growing demand in China and an increase in the number of iPhones being built.

In the days after the iPhone 11 went on sale last month, Ives said expected delivery times for the phone had been pushed out several weeks, an indicator of strong demand for the product.

The company won’t disclose the number of iPhones sold during the quarter. Apple ended that practice earlier this year in a clear nod to slowing growth of that business. But Huberty expects Apple will have shipped 44.5 million iPhones in the quarter, made up a of mix of new models and the previous generation.

For now, Apple’s iPhone business isn’t expected to be enough to fuel much growth at the company overall. Analysts predict Apple’s total revenue for the September quarter will be $62.9 billion, which would be flat from the year prior.

In addition to the new iPhones, Apple is trying to boost growth with a mix of paid subscription services and other hardware products. At its big press event last month, Apple announced a new Apple watch and said it was lowering prices for many products in an apparent effort to attract new customers.

On Monday, Apple unveiled AirPods Pro, a higher-end version of its popular wireless earbuds. The new product comes with a new design, noise-cancellation technology and a higher price tag.

Apple shares surged in the days leading up to the earnings report. The company’s market value is now comfortably above the $1 trillion mark.

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