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Apple sold 47.8 million smartphones last quarter thanks to iPhone 5 release

Customers were eager to snap up a new iPhone last year, with Apple selling almost 50 million smartphones during the fourth quarter.

In all, Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones during the quarter, up from the 37 million it sold during the fourth quarter of 2011. It was also a big jump from the 26.9 million iPhones it sold during the third quarter of 2012, though many users were likely waiting for the release of the iPhone 5 at that point.

On the iPad front, Apple sold 22.9 million tablets, up from 15.4 million in the same time period last year and 14 million from the previous quarter. Apple sold about 1.7 million iPads per week, compared to 1.1 million per week the previous year. The company did not break out iPad vs. iPad mini sales, but said the smaller tablet has been a "tremendous hit."

Mac sales were down a bit, from 5.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 4.1 million in the last quarter of 2012. Apple attributed part of that to the supply constraints with the new iMacs. Sales of the iPod also dropped from 15.4 million in 2011 to 12.7 million in Q4 2012.

During a conference call with analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company had an "extraordinary" quarter, with "new records" for iPhone and iPad sales. "No technology company has ever reported these kind of results," Cook said.

In all, Apple has now sold "well over half a billion iOS devices," Cook said, selling about 10 per second during the last quarter.

Earnings-wise, its results for the quarter beat last year's record of $13.06 billion (£8.25 billion) on $46.33 billion (£29.3 billion) in revenue, having made $13.1 billion (£8.3 billion) in profit on a record $54.5 billion (£34.4 billion) worth of revenues.

Cook also pointed out the anniversary of the airing of the famous "1984" Mac commercial, which made its debut on 24 January 1984. It is the "anniversary of a revolution," Cook said. "We've come a long way since 1984, but [we] rely on the same spirit and drive that brought the original Mac and other products ... into the world."