Google’s Newest Pixel Devices Outperform the iPhone X During Christmas Weekend

Welcome to December 27th - a time to relax after the chaos of the holiday season, break down somewhere between 10 and 200 cardboard boxes, and start weaning yourself off of that pesky four cookie per day habit you’ve developed.

At Localytics, it’s also a time to analyze new device activations that occurred over Christmas weekend to see which devices came out on top. We do this by taking a look at new device activations (devices that began opening and using apps) over Christmas weekend and comparing it to the average number of activations over the prior three weekends.

As we saw after Thanksgiving, the big three - Apple, Samsung and Google - all shined bright leading up to the 2017 Christmas season.

Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Show the Largest Lift over Christmas Weekend

We analyzed Android and Apple devices to see which ones experienced the highest lift over Christmas weekend.

In what might be a surprise given the iPhone X’s performance over Thanksgiving weekend, it was Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL that showed the largest lift in new activations. The iPhone X came in at number three, while the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus rounded out the top five.


It’s always important to note that despite the Pixel’s strong performance over the Christmas weekend, there are still far fewer active Pixel devices out in the world versus the vast network of iPhone users. But, Google has to be happy with the performance of both devices over the 2017  holiday shopping season.

It’s likely this strong performance by the Pixel 2 can be attributed to great promotions offered by carriers like Verizon and retailers like Best Buy, who both offered the purchase of a new Pixel 2 for under $15 per month. Additionally, Google offered a $100 Fi service credit with the activation of a Pixel XL, Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL from Project Fi, a phone plan from Google.

It’s also interesting to see the Pixel 2 XL jump from 12% lift in new activations during Thanksgiving weekend to a 31% lift during Christmas weekend. This big jump is likely due to similar promotions that were offered by carriers and retailers for the Pixel 2 XL. But it could also be a sign that Android enthusiasts are embracing the high powered Pixel 2 XL in the same way that Apple enthusiasts are embracing the iPhone X.

While the iPhone X did not show the largest lift in new device activations, Apple certainly should feel good about the 2017 holiday shopping season, as many analysts believe it was the company’s best ever. Time will tell if the thrill of the iPhone X can sustain, but when it’s combined with the performance of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus as well as the usual holiday uptick in iPad sales, Apple has to feel good about walking into 2018.

Samsung devices, while still cracking the top 10, did not perform as well as we saw in our Thanksgiving report. The Galaxy Note 8 saw a 44% jump in new activations during Thanksgiving, but only saw a 9.5% lift during Christmas weekend. It’s hard to understand why, as there were plenty of great deals available for the Galaxy Note 8. It could just be a factor of a highly competitive holiday season for device manufacturers.

Apple Drastically Outperforms 2016 Holiday Season, but Still Lags Behind 2015

When we compare the performance of iPhone activations during 2015 and 2016 versus this year, we can see that Apple rebounded nicely from a softer performance in 2016 but did not match the percentage lift we saw around the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus in 2015.

Newest-Apple-Device-Activations-c02 (1).jpg

We also took a look at the current overall market share data for all iPhones to see if there has been any significant movement for the 2017 iPhones since our last update. 

iPhone-X-Market-Share-Continues-to-Grow (3).jpg

As of today, the iPhone X has captured 5.28% of the total market share, while the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus combine for 7.4%.

We’ll have to wait for Apple’s next earnings announcement to get a better sense of the company’s performance in the last quarter, but it’s clear that demand is high right now for its latest crop of iPhones.

Marketers, It’s Your Time to Shine

With so many new devices hitting consumers’ hands right now, brands must make sure that their apps are staying top of mind and adding value rather than bombarding users with annoying, irrelevant messages. This time of year is crucial, as with new devices often comes an “app purge” where consumers take stock of the apps that are really enhancing their day to day life. Apps that truly understand what their users want and deliver content and experiences to match those needs will continue to shine bright.

Localytics is the leading mobile engagement platform across more than 2.7 billion devices and 37,000 mobile and web apps. Localytics processes 120 billion data points monthly. For this analysis, Localytics examined the percentage increase of new devices in the U.S. on Christmas Weekend, including Christmas Day, to a baseline of the prior three weekends in December (Nov 30th - Dec 4th, Dec 7th - Dec 11th, Dec 14th - Dec 18th). A new device is defined as a device that is seen by Localytics for the first time by downloading one of the apps incorporating our SDK. To establish the difference between Christmas weekend 2015, 2016 and 2017, Localytics took the published numbers from the report published last year and compared them to the data collected this year.