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Why Apple’s opening 10 million sales of iPhone 6 handsets seems relatively disappointing

Expectations always run high when it comes to sales of new iPhones during the launch weekend. There's an incredible frenzy in the media fuelled by loyalists, long lines form outside Apple stores (immediately followed by the first inadvertent drop caught on camera (opens in new tab)), the reviews are raving across the board (and why wouldn't they be when only loyalists get review units?) and finally, yesterday, Apple gave its fans the much-awaited reason to celebrate - a new first-weekend sales record (opens in new tab).

Related: iPhone 6 review roundup: An exceptional handset which nails balance (opens in new tab)

Needless to say, the 10 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus units that Apple managed to sell during the first weekend exceed the 9 million iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C units sold a year ago. Barely. Considering the appeal that larger iPhones seem to have -- we've been waiting for them for a couple of years, after all - 10 million sounds a tad short. It really does.

Last year, Apple sold 9 million new iPhones (well, new at the time) with the dreadful iPhone 5C in its line-up - we all know how big a hit it has been. Most of the weight to post a new sales record rested on iPhone 5S, which did not disappoint.

So, 9 million units were sold with only a "best new iPhone" on the market. You can imagine why 10 million units seems unspectacular when two so-called best new iPhones contributed to the tally.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, as always, states the obvious: "Sales for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus exceeded our expectations for the launch weekend, and we couldn’t be happier."

"We would like to thank all of our customers for making this our best launch ever, shattering all previous sell-through records by a large margin. While our team managed the manufacturing ramp better than ever before, we could have sold many more iPhones with greater supply and we are working hard to fill orders as quickly as possible."

Apple could have sold more had the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus been available in China during the first three days on sale. The largest smartphone market makes up the only difference between this year's availability and last year's, in the opening weekend. Still, we cannot know for sure how much of a difference China could have made, without speculating.

Read more: Eight pieces of advice for those thinking of buying an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus (opens in new tab)

Nonetheless, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be sure to get a sales boost following the second wave of availability, which, on 26 September, will add Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates to the list of markets where the two devices are on sale.

By the end of the year, Apple says its new iPhones will be offered in a total of 115 countries.