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iPhone 6s: Hot? Not? Apple Investors Await Hints of a Merry (Smartphone) Christmas.

With earnings announced on Tuesday, will the iPhone 6s models maintain their launch momentum?

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

Will the latest version of Apple’s flagship iPhone surpass the modest holiday sales expectations of Wall Street?

Investors hope to gain insights from Apple on Tuesday, as the company reports its September quarter results and offers revenue and earnings guidance for the December quarter.

The new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which were available for preorder on Sept. 12, are a modest refresh of last year’s dramatically overhauled iPhone 6 models. Such incremental upgrades typically perform less well than the fully updated version of the phones — in a couple of instances, accounting for mere single-digit boosts in the number of devices sold in the introductory quarter as compared with prior years.

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus appeared to get off to a strong start, as Apple trumpeted record sales of 13 million units in the first weekend. Analysts polled by Fortune think the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus maintained that momentum through the end of the quarter, thanks to the launch availability of the devices in China.

Analysts estimate that Apple shipped as many as 48.7 million iPhones in its fiscal fourth quarter ending in September, a healthy 24 percent more than the same period a year ago, when it sold 39.2 million iPhones. Those analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast that the company would post September-quarter earnings of $1.88 per share on revenue of $51.11 billion.

Wall Street will be listening for Apple’s guidance for the all-important December quarter, which typically accounts for the most iPhone sales and the company’s highest revenue.

Apple’s 2014 holiday performance will be a tough act to follow. Strong iPhone sales helped Apple post the biggest quarterly profit ever made by a publicly traded company.

Analysts surveyed by Forbes predict that Apple might manage to top that and sell 78 million iPhones this holiday season — a 4 percent increase over last year’s shipments of 74.5 million iPhones. Bullish tech analysts note that the majority of iPhone owners have yet to upgrade to the latest model.

Other benchmarks will help investors evaluate the market performance of this latest iteration of the iPhone, with its sharper camera and 3D Touch feature that detects the amount of pressure applied to the screen. Will it allow Apple to hold on to its 16.3 percent global market share? Will it account for 70 percent or more of total iPhone sales in the quarter, as the most popular models have in the past?

Apple typically has refused to break out the figure, which will require third-party analysis to determine if the “s” model hit the 54 million to 56 million unit mark in the December quarter.

“All eyes on the Street are focused on iPhone guidance for the Dec. quarter with the 75 million number being the bogey in our opinion,” wrote Daniel Ives, FBR Capital Markets managing director. “We view tomorrow’s earnings as a seminal event for [Apple CEO Tim] Cook to prove the iPhone 6s skeptics wrong.”

Some dark clouds hang on the horizon, including the slowing economy in China, which is Apple’s second-largest market behind North America. One component supplier, the German chipmaker Dialog Semiconductor, forecast flat to single-digit revenue growth for the December quarter, which RBC Capital analyst Amit Daryanani interpreted as having negative implications for Apple.

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