Apple absolutely pummeled Samsung in the growing premium smartphone market in 2022

It’s no big secret that 2022 was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for smartphone sales around the world (at least compared to 2021), and unlike several times in the past, China and India’s massive markets were unable to defy a trend expected to spill into 2023.

But according to one recent Counterpoint Research report, the premium segment somehow managed to grow (slightly) last year, incredibly pulling in more than half of the industry’s overall revenue for the first time in history.

What… a… gap!

“Premium” handsets, in case you’re wondering, are very simply defined as devices carrying a “wholesale” price equal or greater than $600 per unit, and as you can imagine, Apple has been copiously dominating this category since, well, forever.
Even by those standards, the Cupertino-based tech giant had a tremendous 2022, boosting its premium smartphone shipments by 6 percent from an already towering figure in 2021 and jumping to a 75 percent market share.

That’s right, three in four $600+ mobile devices sold worldwide last year were iPhones, which left Samsung with a modest 16 percent slice of the pie and everyone else fighting for crumbs. Although that latter battle for the premium market segment’s bronze medal was won by Huawei, the Chinese company’s “victory” came with a huge 44 percent drop in sales compared to 2021.

Xiaomi suffered a similarly heartbreaking decline but still finished 2022 in fourth place among the world’s top premium smartphone vendors, followed by Honor and Google, both of which managed to more than double their figures from the previous year.

That once again confirms the hit status of both the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro (at least by Google’s standards) while Samsung’s 5 percent dip in premium handset shipments is largely blamed on a relatively late Galaxy S22 series launch, and more importantly, the company’s weak overall China presence.
Whatever the causes, it must be concerning for the number one smartphone manufacturer in the world to lose this key battle against Apple so miserably. No matter how many low-end Galaxy A-series devices Samsung might be selling these days (and those are not that many either), it’s still S-series flagships that are meant to generate the largest profits for the chaebol’s mobile division.

What’s on the horizon?

Incredibly enough, Counterpoint Research analysts believe Apple’s 75 percent share of the premium smartphone market in 2022 could have been even larger were it not for iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max supply “disruptions during the peak holiday season.”

That may have affected the segment as a whole, which only grew by 1 percent last year compared to 2021 in sales volume. Overall, premium smartphones accounted for “more than” one fifth of global shipments in 2022, which makes the segment’s 55 percent contribution to the world’s total mobile hardware-derived revenue that much more remarkable.

Clearly, this is where the real money is, and it has to be disappointing for Google and all of its hardware-building partners to see Android account for a modest 25 percent of premium device sales figures right now. No wonder the search giant is ramping up its in-house high-end smartphone production efforts, although the Pixel portfolio is still a long way from providing stiff competition for Apple’s premium iPhones in terms of mainstream popularity.

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