Premium smartphones sales grow despite overall market decline: Counterpoint

Apple iPhone XS and XS Max are the latest iPhones currently available in India.

“Apple is the unsurprising leader in the premium smartphone segment and contributed significantly to the increase, despite overall decline of smartphones”

That the smartphone market has been declining ever so slightly of late is no surprise to anyone. On the contrary, that is what many expected would happen, given the saturation in the market. However, Counterpoint Research’s latest data for December 2018 gives deeper insight into the market, stating that despite the overall slowdown, the premium segments of the smartphone market continues to grow at a steady pace and actually increased by 18 percent over its volume and market share in 2017. 


The rise has been buoyed by multiple factors, including the influx of innovative smartphone features and attractive builds in devices made by the likes of Huawei, Vivo, OPPO, and OnePlus. With the premium smartphone market being pegged at $400 (about Rs 28,500) and above, Apple unsurprisingly led the charts, accounting for 51 percent of all smartphones priced above $400 sold through the last month of 2018. Following Apple were Samsung and Huawei, which captured 22 percent and 10 percent of the premium market.

While Samsung was an expected face and has been an ever-present in this segment of the price brackets, Huawei has been a relatively new entrant, with its premium smartphone market share increasing by a staggering 97 percent over 2017, owing to the likes of the Huawei P20 Pro (review) and the Mate 20 Pro (review) presenting attractive features and great build quality. Samsung, meanwhile, focused on its Galaxy S9+ (review) and the Galaxy Note9 (review), which have been expected players in this part of the field.

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The biggest driver of the premium market was actually the $400-600 price band (approx. Rs 30,000-45,000), accounting for the highest volume of premium smartphones sold. While Apple maintained its hold in this price bracket as well, it is OnePlus that stood out in this segment. Buoyed by the sales of the OnePlus 6 (review) and OnePlus 6T in India, the company raked in massive sales figures and was the fastest growing OEM in this segment. Apple, however, shipped the highest number of devices at under $600.

Where Apple truly showed its dominance is the $800+ (approx. Rs 60,000+) market segment — one which has been created and ruled by Apple’s extremely expensive iPhones. In fact, since the introduction of the iPhone X (review), the $800+ segment has become fairly active, and Apple unsurprisingly accounts for 80 percent of all of the most expensive smartphones being sold globally. The other two players that have contributed alongside Apple are Samsung (with the Galaxy Note9) and Google (with the Pixel 3 XL).


This is further proof of market saturation, and internet penetration in fringe areas. With more people already getting accustomed to the basic smartphones and median income gradually increasing, the market is opening up to the possibility of seeing higher priced devices in general. The Counterpoint report further affirms that this trend is only likely to continue, buoyed by first-time, innovative smartphone features such as foldable displays and 5G connectivity.

A lover of anything that has a circuit and involves physics, Shouvik is passionate about technology, science and journalism in equal parts. When not at work, he prefers reading up on ancient history, sports and engineering, going on random photography expeditions, and occasionally a long solo drive. He's also neck-deep into science fiction, and is working on a debut novel that he hopes will one day be read by Steven Erikson.
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