Apple has acknowledged the slowdown in the smartphone market, especially in the US, just as it prepares to launch the iPhone 15, which is being touted as the most significant upgrade to the device in three years. The revelation comes after the tech giant reported a drop in iPhone sales, which caused its stock price to fall, according to Bloomberg.

Historically, major iPhone releases, such as the iPhone 6 in 2014, the iPhone X in 2017, and the iPhone 12 in 2020, have been characterized by significant feature upgrades. These have included larger screens, new designs, and the introduction of 5G connectivity. The upcoming iPhone 15 is no exception, introducing a Pro model with thinner display bezels, a lightweight titanium frame, improved camera capabilities, a USB-C charging port, and a significantly faster processor.

However, the success of the iPhone 15 may depend on more than just its features. Given the current market dynamics, Apple may have to work harder to convince consumers to buy. The company’s recent post-earnings conference call highlighted the slowdown in sales: iPhone sales fell 2.4% to $39.7 billion in the most recent quarter, slightly below Wall Street expectations. Although the iPhone has faced problems in the past, such as supply chain issues and launch delays, a decline in sales of the device has been rare.

Apple attributed the decline to currency fluctuations and also acknowledged that the structure of consumer spending in the U.S. has changed. Interestingly, sales in China outpaced those in the US, and CEO Tim Cook praised China’s performance as the highlight of the quarter.

Despite the challenges, Apple remains optimistic about iPhone sales in the coming period and expects better results than the recent 2.4% decline. However, the company also cautions that its overall revenue could remain flat sequentially. This could result in Apple’s fourth consecutive quarterly revenue decline, which has not happened since 2001.

The iPhone 15 is expected to hit store shelves around September 22, following an announcement scheduled for September 12 or 13. This means that the fourth fiscal quarter, which ends in September, will include approximately one week of iPhone 15 sales.

A critical period for Apple will be the October-December holiday quarter, which is traditionally the company’s peak selling season. On the positive side, Apple is expected to compare favorably with the 2022 holiday quarter, when production of the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max was halted due to disruptions at Foxconn’s factories in China caused by the pandemic.

If the iPhone 15 fails to show strong year-over-year growth, concerns about the extent of the smartphone market slowdown could intensify.