Samsung and Huawei cost Apple some 2023 iPhone sales | Galaxy Z Fold shown

Apple last year lost some 2023 iPhone sales, thanks to growing competition from Samsung and born-again competition from Huawei, but a new report today shows that the Cupertino company remains by far the most dominant player in the premium smartphone market.

The market intelligence report also shows that more consumers than ever are willing to spend money on a top-tier smartphone …

Premium smartphone market keeps growing

The latest Counterpoint Research report says that almost a quarter of all global smartphone purchases last year were premium devices – defined as phones with a wholesale value of more than $600 (typically equating to a retail price above $800).

The global premium smartphone (wholesale price ≥$600) market’s sales are likely to grow 6% YoY in 2023 to hit a new record, according to Counterpoint Research’s Market Pulse Service. This contrasts with the decline projected for the overall global smartphone market this year.

The premium segment is likely to capture close to one-fourth of the global smartphone market sales and 60% of the revenues in 2023. Over the past few years, the premium segment has emerged as a growth area in the otherwise weak market.

Counterpoint data indicates that this segment has grown from just 6% of the global market in 2016 to 21% in 2022. Its 2023 data represents final figures for the first three quarters of the year, and estimated sales in the final quarter.

The big shift across that period has been in emerging markets, where low-cost phones have traditionally dominated. That’s been helped by promos and finance.

There has been a shift in consumer buying patterns in the smartphone market. Considering the importance a smartphone holds, consumers are willing to spend more to get a high-quality device that they can use for a longer period.  Owning the latest and greatest flagships has also become a status symbol for many consumers, especially in emerging markets where they are jumping directly from the mid-price band to the premium band. Further, these devices are increasingly becoming more affordable due to promotion seasons and financing options.

Apple’s global market share of the premium smartphone market last year declined from 75% to 71%, with corresponding gains by Samsung and Huawei.

Samsung’s gains were attributed to the growing appeal of folding phones – a market Apple has not yet entered – while we’ve previously told the story of Huawei’s surprise re-emergence as an iPhone competitor.

Apple isn’t expected to launch a folding iPhone until 2025 at the earliest, likely after a folding iPad.

Photo: Daniel Romero/Unsplash

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Samsung and Huawei cost Apple some 2023 iPhone sales

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