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Ringing Up Profits: Apple Sells Record 74.5 Million iPhones in Quarter

Apple had another blowout quarter thanks to its new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones, which helped the company smash sales records for the holiday season. Apple said Tuesday that it sold a record 74.5 million iPhones during the three months that ended Dec. 31. The latest-model iPhones were introduced in September.

Apple has set records with each new version of its iPhones. By comparison, the company sold 51 million smartphones during the holiday quarter in 2013, when its iPhone 5s and 5c models were new on the scene. Bigger screens are one reason for the popularity of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple had resisted when other companies such as Samsung began introducing smartphones with bigger screens. But its iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch screen, measured diagonally, while the 6 Plus screen measures 5.5 inches. That compares to a 4-inch screen on iPhone 5 models. "It took Apple a long time to come to grips with the fact that the market did want the bigger screen," said Gartner tech analyst Van Baker. "They finally closed the gap on a feature they were missing, which their competition had capitalized on."

The surge in sales of Apple's signature smartphones helped make up for an expected decline in sales of iPad tablets. The company sold 21.4 million iPads, down 22 percent from a year earlier. The new models also helped Apple increase its share of the China market. Apple doesn't break out iPhone sales by country, but a report issued Tuesday by research firm Canalys estimates that Apple sold more smartphones in China during the last quarter than any other maker, including South Korea's Samsung and the Chinese companies Huawei and Xiaomi.

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— The Associated Press and Reuters