Premium handsets outpaced global smartphone market in 2021

Apple led the premium smartphone industry with a 60 per cent market share, Counterpoint report reveals

Customers walk past a digital display of the new green colour Apple iPhone 13 pro, in the Apple store in New York. Reuters

Premium smartphone sales jumped 24 per cent globally on an annual basis last year to reach their highest ever level, according to a report by Counterpoint Research.

The growth in the premium segment outdid the 7 per cent yearly growth in overall global smartphone sales in 2021. This segment accounted for nearly 27 per cent — its highest ever share — of the overall smartphone shipments.

The Hong Kong-based research company defines a premium smartphone as a handset priced at more than $400.

The growth was driven by a mix of factors, said Counterpoint’s research director Tarun Pathak.

“Upgrades to the affordable-premium segment in emerging economies and replacement demand for 5G devices in advanced economies continued to drive growth.

“Amid the supply chain woes, the ecosystem players also prioritised the premium segment devices due to increased margins and profitability. The growth rate was also somewhat higher in 2021 due to the sales and launch schedules in 2020 being impacted by the pandemic,” Mr Pathak said.

Counterpoint did not disclose the exact number of premium handsets sold.

iPhone maker Apple led the premium smartphone market with nearly 60 per cent market share in 2021. It launched 5G-enabled 13 series phones in September. New launches drove iPhones sales in the company’s holiday quarter that ended on December 25.

The Cupertino-based company's iPhone sales accounted for about 57.7 per cent of the its total revenue in the quarter. Smartphone sales surged about 9.1 per cent to more than $71.6 billion in the quarter, compared with the same period in 2020, surpassing analysts' estimates of $68.3bn.

Apple was followed by South Korean brand Samsung (17 per cent) and Chinese companies Huawei (6 per cent), Xiaomi (5 per cent), Oppo (4 per cent) and Vivo (3 per cent).

Samsung’s high-end foldable devices launched in August — the Galaxy Z Fold and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 — performed well, especially in South Korea, North America and Western Europe, Counterpoint said.

“Going forward, the premium segment, driven by the replacement demand across markets, is likely to keep growing and outpace the global smartphone market growth,” Counterpoint’s senior analyst Varun Mishra said.

“The launch of foldables at a lower price than before will also drive growth in the premium market. Samsung has showcased foldables as a viable market. A foldable phone from Apple will be a nod to the robustness of the technology and further drive growth,” he added.

Updated: March 24, 2022, 4:30 AM