iPhone-dominant premium smartphone market generated record sales in 2023

in iPhone edited January 3

Even as overall sales of smartphones continued to decline globally, premium models like the iPhone 15 Pro are predicted to have hit a new record with 6% growth year over year.

Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max
Apple's iPhone 15 Pro Max

Globally, sales of smartphones have been falling for some years, although the iPhone 15 have bucked the trend -- and Apple's market share has continued to grow. But Counterpoint Research's figures for 2023 -- including preliminary estimates for Q4 -- show a different picture for the so-called premium market.

"The global premium smartphone (wholesale price $600) market's sales are likely to grow 6% YoY in 2023 to hit a new record," says the research firm in a statement. "The premium segment is likely to capture close to one-fourth of the global smartphone market sales and 60% of the revenues in 2023."

Although reporting global growth, though, Counterpoint says that the new record being set is specifically in China, India, Latin America, and Middle East and Africa. Of these, India is reportedly the fastest-growing premium market in the world.

Describing iPhone as "the premium market's undisputed leader," Counterpoint also reports that Apple's market share has declined in the last year. Samsung has gained with its S23 and its foldable phones, while Huawei has seen a "resurrection in China."

Share of premium smartphone market 2022 and 2023 (source; Counterpoint Research)
Share of premium smartphone market 2022 and 2023 (source; Counterpoint Research)

"There has been a shift in consumer buying patterns in the smartphone market," said Counterpoint senior analyst Varun Mishra. "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," continues Mishra. "Further, these devices are increasingly becoming more affordable due to promotion seasons and financing options."

Despite this, Counterpoint also reports that "it is the ultra-premium segment" that is driving growth. Specifically, smartphones costing $1,000 or more have "captured over one-third of the total premium market sales in 2023."

The 6% growth in premium smartphones contrasts with the previous year 2022, which saw only a 1% increase.

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