- There have been a ton of different models of cell phones throughout the past years, but some of them have been very reliable, while some have been real duds.
- Unfortunately, many phones become obsolete and aren’t supported after newer models are produced.
- Ultimately, most of the best selling options had great functionality paired with affordability.
A world without cell phones is hard even to fathom. Even though these gadgets play an integral role in our lives, they have quickly and subtly engrained themselves into our routine to the point where we now consider them essential. Over 20 mobile phone models have sold more than 100 million units each since 1999. With this in mind, what are the best selling mobile phones of all time?
Here are the 10 best selling mobile phones based on their sales figures.
- Best of the ’10s: Apple iPhone XS
- Best Dual Cameras: Apple iPhone 11
- Most Controversial:
- Best 20th Century Release: Nokia 3210
- Best Color Options:
- Best New Features: Apple iPhone 6S
- Best Battery Life: Nokia 105
- Best Selling iPhone: Apple iPhone 6S
- Best Nokia Model: Nokia 1110
- Best Overall: Nokia 1100
Best of the ’10s: Apple iPhone XS
- Unlocked phone for carrier of your choice
- Charger and cord included
- Storage: 256GB
- Apple's A16 Bionic chip inside
|September 21st, 2018
|iPhone XR, iPhone XS Max
|A12 Bionic chip, water resistance, dual SIM
|September 10th, 2019
Number ten on the list of the best selling mobile phones of all time, the [Amazon link=”B07TJBCC7H” title=”Apple iPhone XS”] was a generally well-received upgrade in a long line of Apple releases over the years. Selling over 150 million units in its first year, the XS practically flew off the shelves after its September 2018 release. Thanks largely to the lower-end XR, which came at a much lower price than the XS or the XS Max, the iPhone XS family could perform extraordinarily well at the time.
The iPhone XS was discontinued in September 2019 with the release of Apple‘s iPhone 11. This was met with mixed reception, as the XS was seen as a solid Apple release that generally got positive reviews. There were issues with cell reception, charging, and the iPhone‘s camera, but all of these things were acceptable in exchange for the cheaper price point of the XR. While the XS is no longer for sale, many consumers still have used models of this 12th generation iPhone in their possession.
Check out the Apple iPhone XS on Amazon.
Best Dual Cameras: Apple iPhone 11
- Unlocked and compatible with any carrier of choice on GSM and CDMA networks (e.g. AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, US Cellular, Cricket, Metro, Tracfone, Mint Mobile, etc.)
- Tested for battery health and guaranteed to have a minimum battery capacity of 80%.
- Successfully passed a full diagnostic test which ensures like-new functionality and removal of any prior-user personal information
- Includes a generic (MFI-certified) charger and charging cable
- The device does not come with headphones or a SIM card
- Inspected and guaranteed to have minimal cosmetic damage, which is not noticeable when the device is held at arm's length
|September 20th, 2019
|iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max
|A13 Bionic chip, ultra-wide dual-camera system
|September 7th, 2022
As a follow-up to the iPhone XS, the Apple iPhone 11 sold slightly better than its predecessor as it had more time on the market. It was in September 2019, just ten days after the XS was discontinued. The iPhone 11 sold 159.2 million units over the next three years. Coinciding with the release of the 11 Pro and the 11 Pro Max, the 11 featured the new A13 Bionic chip and an exciting new dual-camera system on the rear of the phone.
There’s no doubt nearly 160 million units sold is a remarkable feat. However, these numbers were cumulative over a three-year period between its 2019 release and its 2022 discontinuation. In truth, this only makes the XS’s numbers all the more impressive: What took the 11 three years to surpass, the XS could do in a third of the time. Still, in the end, the 11 came out on top by less than 10 million units.
Check out the Apple iPhone 11 on Amazon.
|September 16th, 2016
|iPhone 7 Plus
|A10 Fusion chip, enhanced optical zoom, Portrait Mode, 1080p front camera
|September 10th, 2019
Just barely edging ahead of the iPhone 11’s sales is the with 159.9 million units. Sold between September 2016 and September 2019, the iPhone 7 performed quite well despite a few major controversial changes. For one, it removed the physical home button with a capacitive mechanism. It also removed the headphone jack, which remains one of the most unexpected changes in the iPhone‘s history.
Despite these much-ballyhooed changes, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus sold exceptionally well. While number eight on this list of best selling mobile phones, it’s the fourth-best selling iPhone in history. Its predecessor, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, sold only a fraction of the 7’s sales: 124.7 million compared to the 8’s 159.9. It shows that the sheer amount of loyalty to the iPhone name often has the power to outweigh even the most unpopular upgrades.
Check out the on Amazon.
Best 20th Century Release: Nokia 3210
|March 18th, 1999
|Internal antenna, pre-installed games, picture messages
|September 1st, 2000
Surprisingly enough, many iPhone models pale in comparison to the earliest cell phones’s sales figures. It seems hard to believe, but many smartphones can’t surpass the numbers of even the most basic cell phones. Take the , for example. Sandwiched between two iPhones on the all-time sales charts, this cell phone is archaic by our standards but sold a massive 161 million units over the course of just 18 months.
Available between the months of March 1999 and September 2000, this basic little cell phone sold by today’s standards. The Nokia 3210 did better in 18 months than iPhones 7 and 11. It’s quite simple by our high standards of the present day, but in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was nothing like this Nokia 3210. Its high sales prove this to be true.
Best Color Options:
|September 20th, 2013
|A7 chip, Touch ID home button, slow motion video
|March 21st, 2016
If you don’t recall, the release of the was groundbreaking. There was nothing else like the Touch ID-enabled home button included with the debut of the 5S in September of 2013. While some had concerns over allowing a tech giant to access millions of our fingerprints willingly, others saw it as an enormous step forward for smartphone security. In the end, the 5S seemed to be more positively than negatively received — just look at the 164.5 million units sold.
The 5S was also released alongside the iPhone 5C, which delivered a much cheaper version of the 5S that came in various colors. As of this writing, the 5C was the last time Apple utilized a vibrantly colored hard-coated polycarbonate shell for its iPhones. Together, the 5S and the 5C far exceeded the iPhone 5’s 146.2 million units sold. 5C’s alluring colors and the 5S’s impressive camera and internal upgrades spurred the impressive sales.
Check out the on Amazon.
Best New Features: Apple iPhone 6S
- Compatible With T-Mobile, Mint, AT&T, US Mobile, Ting Mobile, and more
- In perfect working condition (inspected and tested)
- Healthy battery life (+80%)
- Comes with cable, charge, and hands-free
- Upgradeable to IOS 15
|September 25th, 2015
|iPhone 6S Plus
|A9 chip, 3D Touch, Touch ID home button, 4K video
|September 12th, 2018
The fifth best selling mobile phone, the Apple iPhone 6S improved upon its predecessor in several ways. It was equipped with a second-generation Touch ID home button with more accurate and advanced sensors and a super responsive 3D Touch screen. For the first time, 4K-capable cameras appeared on an iPhone. The 6S was quite a substantial iPhone upgrade, selling over 174.1 million units.
iPhone 6S was also the first iPhone to feature Live Photos and LTE reception. The 6S was a major release with major sales figures to validate its slew of groundbreaking upgrades. Criticisms of the 6S and 6S Plus were few, with the only concern being its relatively short battery life. While a huge success for Apple in its own right, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus still managed to sell better than the 6S and 6S Plus.
Check out the Apple iPhone 6S on Amazon.
Best Battery Life: Nokia 105
- Dual-SIM, Network Compatibility, SIM CARD 1: [2G : GSM 900 / 1800] SIM CARD 2: [2G : GSM 900 / 1800]
- 1.77 inches, 120 x 160 pixels, TFT
- 4MB Storage, 4MB RAM
- Li-Ion 800 mAh, removable battery
|Nokia 105 (2015), Nokia 105 (2017), Nokia 105 (2019), Nokia 105 (2021)
|Long battery life, flashlight, FM radio
Released nearly a decade ago, the Nokia 105 sold over 200 million units. It was deigned and made specifically for developing nations around the world. With its long 35-day battery life and 12.5 hours of talk time per charge, the Nokia 105 has sold exceptionally well globally. It’s also equipped with a flashlight and an FM radio for users’ listening pleasure. The cell phone has been updated since its initial 2013 release. It’s still available for purchase today, and it continues to sell well in sovereign states where a smartphone simply wouldn’t be practical in the slightest. If you need a phone that does the basics well, the 105 is the way to go.
Check out the Nokia 105 on Amazon.
Best Selling iPhone:
|September 19th, 2014
|iPhone 6 Plus
|A8 chip, Retina HD Display, barometer sensor
|September 12th, 2018
Perhaps the best-selling iPhone in history, the and 6 Plus broke record after record for Apple starting in September of 2014. Besting all other iPhone models by nearly 50 million units at least, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sold 224 million units in the four years it was available for purchase. Its high sales figures are likely why the 6 and 6 Plus were available for an entire year longer than the iPhone’s typical three-year life cycle per model.
Equipped with a bigger display, new and improved cameras, and much higher speeds compared to the previous iPhone models that came before it, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were must-haves for even the most casual Apple fans between 2014 and 2018. While it found itself at the center of a couple of controversies, most notably Bendgate (which concerned susceptibility to bending while stored in a pants pocket), the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus remain the #3 best selling mobile phones of all time. (Not to mention the best selling smartphone ever.)
Check out the on Amazon.
Best Nokia Model: Nokia 1110
|Call Barring, built-in games, picture messages
Created with the first-time mobile phone owner in mind, the Nokia 1110 was incredibly successful for its basic, easy-to-use features and its low price point compared to other mobile phones (including Nokia’s offerings). It sold nearly 250 million units over the years before its discontinuation, falling just short of the Nokia 1100’s numbers.
1100 featured an inverted black and white display, while the 1100i gave users the option to choose between an inverted or regular black and white display. Both versions also came equipped with an amber-colored backlight. Users could compose their ringtones, a fun and unique feature at the time.
Check out the Nokia 1110 on Amazon.
Best Overall: Nokia 1100
|Nokia 1101, Nokia 1108
|AOL Instant Messenger, flashlight, text messages
While the Nokia 1100 is probably the last to come to mind when thinking of the best selling mobile phones of all time, the truth is that this cellphone takes the cake by a significant margin. Selling more than 250 million units during the six years, the Nokia 1100 has set the record and kept the title for over a decade. Sure, the phone is nothing special by today’s standards, but its basic features like calling, texting, and instant messaging made it a highly sought-after device throughout the 2000s.
It helped that the Nokia 1100 was also quite cheap compared to the competition. Even as mobile phones grew astronomically more advanced between 2003 and 2009, the Nokia 1100 continued to sell exceedingly well for merely sticking to the basics. Sure, it couldn’t do a fraction of what burgeoning smartphones could do, but that ended up being part of its appeal. To date, no phone has surpassed the Nokia 1100 in sales.
Check out the Nokia 1100 on Amazon.
How to Pick a Best Selling Mobile Phone: Step by Step
Now, just because these are the best selling mobile phones of all time does not mean they’re still available for purchase today. If you’re interested in purchasing one of these historic best-sellers, there are a few steps you need to follow to get your hands on one. As it stands, only a fraction are still in working order today.
Is It Still For Sale?
First and foremost, you need to check and see if the mobile phone you’re interested in is still for sale. As of this writing, the only phone on this list available for sale new is the Nokia 105. All other mobile phones compiled here — including the iPhones — will only be attainable through second-hand used sales. Nine out of ten of these best selling mobile phones have been discontinued. (Some much longer than others.)
Does Your Carrier Support It?
Another consideration to keep in mind is whether or not your carrier can support the phone. This is particularly true of some of the older Nokias, which would not be functional on a 5G, 4G, or 3G network. The same goes for some of the older iPhones, which would only be able to handle 4G connectivity or less. You would hate to go through all the trouble of locating one of these mobile phones second-hand only to be incapable of using them via your cellular provider.
Is There a Newer or Better Version Available?
Apple and Nokia are still making new phones today. For instance, Apple’s iPhone 14 is available to order now. The same goes for Nokia, whose 225 and 6300 models are comparable to Nokia 1100, 1110, and 3210 with newer and improved features.
Android is a mobile operating system based on a modified version of the Linux kernel and other open-source software.
©Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash – License
What to Know Before Buying Best Selling Mobile Phones
Before buying a best selling mobile phone, consider what exactly matters most to you in a phone. Do you need long battery life? Or is a better camera more important to you? Are you interested in smartphone capabilities like internet access and other smart features? Or are you more concerned with something that can accomplish the basics, like calling, texting, and messaging without all the bells and whistles? Above all else, these are the important questions to ask before purchasing a mobile phone.
After this, you might also want to check and see if the latest phone version will be available soon. Typically, if a phone sells well, the developer will want a follow-up to be released a year later. This is true of the iPhone, Androids, Samsungs, and even Nokias. Do some research to see when your desired model came out, then check and see if a newer model is on the way. No one wants to buy a new phone that becomes obsolete in a few years.
Using Best Selling Mobile Phones: What It’s Like
In the end, bestsellers tend to be bestsellers for a reason. The best selling mobile phones became popular because they do their job well and are simple to use. Period. Sure, they might not be the most advanced, but they’ll give you the features you need at an affordable price. There will always be more expensive phones with advanced features, but they don’t always become best sellers.
Most of the best selling mobile phones are budget-friendly, widely available in stores and online, are easy to use, and come from a recognizable brand name. The top 10 belong to just two tech companies, Apple and Nokia. Other brands might try to draw you in with unique bells and whistles, but these best selling mobile phones are quality products that won’t leave you confused. After all, nobody wants that from a device that’s supposed to make life easier.
Summary of the Best Selling Mobile Phones
|Nokia 1100 – Best Overall
|Nokia 1110 – Best Nokia Model
|Apple iPhone 6 – Best Selling iPhone
|Nokia 105 – Best Battery Life
|Apple iPhone 6S – Best New Features
|Apple iPhone 5S – Best Color Options
|Nokia 3210 – Best 20th Century Release
|Apple iPhone 7 – Most Controversial
|Apple iPhone 11 – Best Dual Cameras
|Apple iPhone XS – Best of the ’10s
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The image featured at the top of this post is ©Thaspol Sangsee/Shutterstock.com.
Last update on 2024-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API