Despite initial skepticism about Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone XR, which was released last year, the more affordable model has consistently been a strong seller. CEO Tim Cook noted in January that the iPhone XR had been "the most popular iPhone every day, every single day." Third-party estimates have also backed up those claims. The iPhone XR received a price cut to $599 a few months ago when Apple introduced the iPhone 11 lineup, which will also help bolster demand.

Here's more evidence of how popular the iPhone XR is.

White iPhone XR

Image source: Apple.

iPhone XR grabbed 3% of the market

Counterpoint Research released estimates this week that show that the iPhone XR was the most popular smartphone in the world in the third quarter, grabbing 3% of all unit sales. The model has been the top handset model every quarter since launching in Q4 of 2018, according to Counterpoint.

"The XR alone contributed to over one-quarter of the total Apple sales during the quarter, making it the best-selling model for Apple across all regions," according to Counterpoint analyst Varun Mishra. "Apple also adjusted the price of the iPhone XR in China and several other markets, which helped keep demand strong during the quarter."

Samsung and China's OPPO also had models rank among the top 10 most popular devices, although those handsets are positioned in the low-end and mid-range pricing segments. Despite launching with just a few days left in the third quarter, the iPhone 11 was still able to rank No. 5, with a 1.6% share.

Smartphone Model

Market Share Q3 2019

Apple iPhone XR

3%

Samsung Galaxy A10

2.6%

Samsung Galaxy A50

1.9%

OPPO A9

1.6%

Apple iPhone 11

1.6%

OPPO A5s

1.5%

Samsung Galaxy A20

1.4%

OPPO A5

1.3%

Xiaomi Redmi 7A

1.2%

Huawei P30

1.1%

Data source: Counterpoint Research.

The iPhone 11 is the successor to the iPhone XR, and starts at a lower price than the XR did.

The growing mid-range

Counterpoint's data also has important insights going forward. The top 10 models represented 17% of total sales, but combined wholesale revenue fell 30% because of a greater mix of mid-range devices.

The number of premium flagship smartphones in the top 10 has fallen from five to three, as manufacturers are quickly bringing flagship features (triple-camera systems, larger displays, or in-display fingerprint sensors, for example) to mid-range devices. In other words, consumers are being rewarded for waiting to upgrade, enjoying strong value propositions once affordable models get high-end technology.

Recent data from market researcher NPD also suggests the market for $1,000 phones isn't all that big, with less than 10% of U.S. consumers willing to spend that much on a flagship smartphone. Apple is expected to launch an iPhone SE 2 in the spring. It's positioned as a mid-range device with newer specs inside of an older chassis, a familiar strategy that the Mac maker successfully used on the first iPhone SE. The SE 2 promises to capitalize on the growing popularity of mid-range devices.