Smartphone Market Slowdown did not Affect Premium Smartphone Sales


A report claims that global premium smartphone segment is growing faster than the overall smartphone market. Brand diversity in the premium segment is also increasing

OnePlus 6 and iPhone X

According to Counterpoint Research’s recent Market Pulse December 2018 report, the global premium smartphone segment continues to grow faster than the overall smartphone market. The growth for the year was driven by Apple, Samsung and Chinese OEMs like Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and One Plus. Brand diversity in the premium segment is also increasing.

Varun Mishra, research analyst at Counterpoint Research, said “Going forward, the trend of premium smartphones is likely to continue. Introduction of 5G phones, foldable displays and popularity of the so called, affordable premium segment in emerging markets, will further drive the growth.”

$800+ (approx Rs 57,000) premium smartphone segment growing the fastest

Ultra-premium smartphone segment, as per the research, has been growing the fastest. The prices of the new premium smartphones have jumped to a new level after the entry of Apple iPhone X in the market. It is to be note here that Apple had originally introduced the iPhone X at retail prices of above Rs 90,000 in India.

Tom Kang, research director at Counterpoint Research, in the reports has said, “Within the premium segment, the $800+ ultra-premium segment has been growing the fastest. In 2017 it was merely 8% of the premium market (defined as $400+). Ever since the Apple iPhone X was introduced in late 2017, prices have jumped to a new level. Further more in 2018, the new flagships of Apple (XS, XS Max), Samsung (note 9) and Google (Pixel 3 XL) were all launched above the $800 price. OEMs were able to increase the average price points (ASPs), taking advantage of the headroom created by Apple.”

Counterpoint’s consumer lens said that consumers are now willing to spend more on their device. But at the same time, consumers are holding on to their devices, for a longer period of time. The overall market growth is slowing, but the premium segment is expanding.

Major players in the premium smartphone segment

Apple leads the global premium smartphone segment. It was able to capture 51 per cent share of the segment, followed by Samsung with 22 per cent market share and Huawei with 10 per cent market share. However, it is to be noted here that the most expensive phone among the three is offered by Apple at the moment.

Huawei’s costliest phone in India at the moment is priced in the Rs 60,000 to Rs 70,000 segment, whereas Apple’s costliest smartphone is above Rs 1,10,000. Similarly Samsung’s costliest phone in India is retailing at prices in the Rs 80,000 to Rs 90,000 segment.

The research read, “The $800+ segment was a newly created category by Apple, and it grew the fastest. Apple clearly dominated with more than 80 per cent share in the $800+ ultra-premium price band. The affordable premium segment, the $400-$600 price-band, was actually the largest volume segment in total premium sales. Although Apple still leads in this segment, the biggest winner was OnePlus.”

OnePlus remains one of the fastest growing brands in the below Rs 50,000($400 to $600) segment. The success of OnePlus in India drove the overall premium smartphone shipments in the country to a record number in a single year. The brand is likely to grow as it broadens its reach in the European and US markets.

Counterpoint’s pricing analysis was based on wholesale pricing not retail pricing. The Premium segment is above $400 in wholesale price.