It’s that time of the year for retailers again – the final stretch towards Christmas. We can only imagine that retailers were encouraged to see that consumers remain enamored with mobile shopping, as smartphones generated $2.1 billion in sales on Black Friday alone. Meanwhile, Cyber Monday smashed expectations with a 19.3% increase in sales compared to last year.

This Black Friday weekend follows the release of the iPhone XS and XS Max in late September, the iPhone XR in October, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 in August. Despite our somewhat gloomy findings surrounding the XS’s initial adoption, Black Friday and the day after showed promising signs for its sibling, the XR.

We dug into our own device data to understand how many mobile users began activating new devices and using apps starting on Thanksgiving Day.

Black Friday 2018: Google’s first foray into the high-end device market

To get an understanding of which devices performed the best over the holiday weekend, we look at the lift in new device activations for this past weekend versus the prior four weekends. This helps us understand the impact of the official start to the holiday shopping season.

This year, the Pixel 3 came out on top, showing a 104% lift in device activations over Thanksgiving weekend compared to average activations across the prior four weekends. The Pixel 3 was followed by the Pixel 3 XL, which saw activations increase by 89%. Both devices were released in mid October, just about a week before the iPhone XR landed on consumers’ doorsteps.


The Pixel 3 and XL come with top-tier features, and specs comparable to the iPhone XS and Galaxy 9. Of course, it also comes with a price to match that represents a $150 increase from the Pixel 2 to the Pixel 3. It’s important to note that the Pixel 3 and XL are only being sold by Verizon and Google at this time, but are supported by any mobile service.

iPhone XR, XS Push Out iPhone X in Contest for Apple Consumers

The iPhone X has established a strong position in the smartphone market in 2018, but we are beginning to see signs that its successors are gaining traction. Looking at just the adoption of Apple smartphones over the holiday weekend, we see that both the XR and XS both saw solid adoption compared to the previous four weekends.


Year over year growth in activations tells a similar story, with the iPhone X down 10% in new devices since Black Friday last year, but the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are up by 36% and 10% respectively.



The drop in new device activations for the iPhone X year over year makes sense, as Apple discontinued the X back in September. Despite this drop, the iPhone X has gained a decent amount of the overall iPhone market share to date.


There are a few potential reasons for the shift in preference from the iPhone X to the XR. For one, the newer device specs are not a huge leap in capability so consumers are really just choosing between the iPhone X and a slightly more updated version for an even lower price (the iPhone XR starts at $750 on the AT&T website, while the iPhone X starts at $900). Second, die hard fans have probably already shelled out their cash on the XS and XS Max, which were released around two months ago.

The Race for Consumers’ Wallets and Loyalty will Continue

We all know that Thanksgiving weekend is just the start of the holiday shopping frenzy for consumers and retailers. It will be interesting to see how retailers look to gain mindshare, and share of wallet, with consumers seeking out new devices. This is also a critical time of year for brands, as consumers are getting their hands on new devices and deciding which apps to take with them. Brands must add personalization and meaningfulness in every interaction through their apps over the next few months or they risk falling victim to the “app purge” that can accompany new devices.


Localytics is the leading mobile engagement platform across more than 750 million devices and 12,000 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 Thanksgiving Weekend, including Cyber Monday (Nov. 22nd – Nov. 25th) to a baseline of the prior four weekends (Oct. 25th – Oct. 28th, Nov. 1st – Nov. 4th, Nov 8th – Nov 11th, Nov 15th – Nov 18th). An “activated” device is defined as a device that is seen by Localytics for the first time by downloading and opening one of the apps incorporating our SDK.