In brief: In a time when many people are tightening their purse strings and avoiding unnecessary big purchases, which smartphone do you think was the most-shipped device in the first half of 2023? Somewhat surprisingly, it was the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which starts at $1,099, making it the most expensive handset Apple sells.

According to British analytics firm Omdia's Smartphone Model Market Tracker, Apple was the dominant name on the list of ten most-shipped smartphones during the first half of the year.

Leading the pack was the iPhone 14 Pro Max with 26.5 million units shipped. It was followed by three more Cupertino handsets: the iPhone 14 Pro (21 million), iPhone 14 (16.5 million), and iPhone 13 (15.5 million). Samsung's highest entry, the Galaxy A14, is fifth with 12.4 million shipments. The Korean giant and Apple have the same number of entries, five each.

Looking at last year's figures suggests consumers are favoring more high-end models. The handset that saw the most shipments in the first half of 2022 was the iPhone 13 with 33.7 million, seven million more than what the iPhone 14 Pro Max managed in 1H 2023.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max was second on last year's list with 23 million units, 3.5 million fewer than what its successor shipped in 1H 2023.

Omdia notes that the global smartphone market is recording negative growth right now as the mid- to low-end segments shrink due to economic recession and the expansion of the used smartphone market. However, the premium smartphone market segment is increasing as demand for Apple's flagship models remains solid.

The iPhone 15 launch is only a few weeks away, but it sounds as if Apple is prepared for disappointment in the US following its recent admission that "the smartphone market has been in a decline for the last couple of quarters in the United States." Apple said that American shoppers are not spending as much on iDevices as they used to and the whole smartphone industry is experiencing a slowdown.

Apple's global outlook isn't quite as gloomy, though, especially in China, which CEO Tim Cook said was a highlight during the last quarter. Demand for Pro and Pro Max models is expected to increase, but overall shipments for iPhones are expected to be flat or slightly lower compared to 2022. Omdia predicts that worldwide smartphone shipments will decline 6% year on year to 1.15 billion devices, the lowest in a decade.