Apple shipped a record 18M smartwatches in 2017

2017 was a record year for Apple Watch sales.

According to new figures from research firm Canalys, Apple shipped more than 18 million smartwatches in 2017, up 54 percent compared to the previous year. In the fourth quarter of 2017 alone, the Cupertino tech giant shipped 8 million smartwatches, which Canalys said is "the highest ever number of shipments in a single quarter, not just for Apple, but for any wearable vendor."

The company's Series 3 smartwatch with optional cellular LTE connectivity, which just hit the market this past September, was "the key growth driver," Canalys said. Apple peddled "just under 9 million" Series 3 units last year, accounting for nearly half of all Apple Watch shipments in 2017.

"The cellular version of the Apple Watch was in strong demand in the US, Japan, and Australia, where all major operators stocked it in time for the holiday season," Canalys Research Analyst Vincent Thielke said in a statement. "But limited operator selection in the UK, Germany and France influenced consumer purchase decisions, and stifled the growth potential of the connected Apple Watch."

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He added that the company's push into Singapore and Hong Kong this year was a "good move," especially since it coincided with Chinese New Year.

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch Series 3 earned an "excellent" rating in PCMag's review.

"It's quite expensive at $399 for the cellular model, and battery life takes a big hit when using LTE," PCMag's Victoria Song wrote in the review. "But it's one of the best attempts at a truly standalone smartwatch we've seen if you're willing to deal with those trade-offs."

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