Cowen upgrades iPhone 12 build forecasts over continuing high demand

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High demand for the iPhone 12 has prompted Apple to increase its build orders for the March quarter, Cowen analysts claim, with sales in China said to be a highlight of the quarter's finances.

In a smartphone build update report from Cowen seen by AppleInsider, analysts say they have upgraded their forecast for the March 21 quarter for the third month in a row. Cowen currently believes Apple intends to produce 55 million iPhone units, a 49% year-on-year increase for the quarter, and up from 51 million forecast by the firm one month ago.

The increase in units is driven by higher demand for three of the four iPhone 12 models, with the iPhone 12 itself said to make up 2 million of the extra units, while the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max each added 1 million to the total. The iPhone 12 mini estimates are supposedly unchanged from Cowen's previous forecast.

A highlight of its findings is claimed to be Apple's performance in China. The latest CAICT data is said to show 6 million iPhone units were sold in China in December, which is both a multi-year high for Apple and representing a market share of 20%.

The good news in China occurs during a time when overall smartphone shipments in the country are slipping, down 10% in December on a month-to-month basis and down 13% year-on-year to 26.6 million units. Approximately 6 million of these units were for foreign brands, with Apple consuming the vast majority of that segment.

Overall iPhone builds for the December quarter are said to be 79 million units, an increase of 13% year-on-year. The proportion of iPhone 12 units is said to be more concentrated than usual, with models thought to make up 82% of builds in the quarter, up from the average of 74% for the last two release cycles.

The forecast seems to correlate with other reports on iPhone demand and sales, including those of other analysts. Previously it was claimed Apple was increasing orders for the first half of 2021, a year-on-year increase of 30%, with the current generation also believed to be taking up a larger proportion of iPhone sales.

Apple is set to announce its December quarter financial results on Wednesday. AppleInsider will be reporting on the results and the subsequent analyst conference call.