Apple's iPhone 6 maintains almost 50% share of US smartphone market, Canaccord research finds

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During the June quarter the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus kept the iPhone the top-selling smartphone brand at all four major U.S. carriers, with a sell-through share of almost 50 percent, according to survey data published on Wednesday.

The iPhone's U.S. marketshare has remained fairly constant since the December quarter, despite the launch of high-profile Android phones from LG, HTC, and Samsung, said Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley in a memo about the survey obtained by AppleInsider. The firm is in fact scaling back its estimates of global smartphone shipments for 2015 from 1.45 billion to 1.39 billion, based on what it calls "weak" sales of those Android devices relative to the iPhone.

Walkley added that since Canaccord estimates suggest only 20 percent of the iPhone install base had upgraded to the 6 or 6 Plus by the end of the March quarter, Apple can continue to expect strong replacement sales going forward.

Canaccord's survey also reportedly indicated a "greater mix" of Android phone owners switching to the latest iPhones versus the era of the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c. The iPhone install base is forecast to top 500 million by the end of 2015, one reason why Canaccord is maintaining a "buy" rating for Apple stock with a price target of $160. Currently, shares are hovering closer to the $124 mark.

The firm is raising its 2015 and 2016 earnings-per-share estimates from $8.91 to $9.90, and $9.17 to $10.02, respectively.

Much of the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus has been credited to Apple making a switch to 4.7- and 5.5-inch displays. For several years Apple kept to 4-inch screens even as rival Android devices were approaching or exceeding 5 inches.

Apple is expected to launch new iPhones later this year, likely around September. These should have relatively minor upgrades, such as faster processors, more RAM, and Force Touch support.