Most, if not all of us, want to own a premium smartphone. For those that do the choice of which to purchase can be a difficult one, especially if you don’t want to move into the Apple garden. Overnight Counterpoint Research has released their results for 2018 that shows that worldwide the decision is equally difficult with different OEMs being chosen in different regions.

The research into the premium smartphone market (based on wholesale pricing of >US$400) was conducted worldwide and showed that there was a 14% year-on-year (YoY) growth in terms of sell-in and 18% YoY in terms of sell-through. A lot of the growth came from Chinese manufacturers, something we have seen locally as well.

At the top of the premium smartphone market was of course Apple but their percentage share dropped from 58% in 2017 down to just 51% last year. While dominant you can see where and why the Chinese manufacturers are so confident in their ability to threaten the top players in the smartphone industry.

Huawei grew their market share globally from 8% to 10%, an impressive feat considering they effectively do not have a presence in the US, one of the world’s largest premium smartphone markets. The two largest premium smartphone markets were China and the US and Huawei only has an effective presence in one of those.

OPPO as well made a big splash moving from a 1% global share in 2017 to 6% last year thanks largely to the success of the R15 and R17 series’. Their improvement was an impressive 863% increase on 2017 and we expect that to improve this year with the Reno showing some impressive innovation and the Find X2 (Z) yet to be revealed.

Fledgling company, OnePlus, on the back of some impressive Indian sales (36% market share), jumped into the top 5 globally improving their share of the premium segment by 209%. You would expect that to improve this year considering they overtook Samsung in India towards the end of last year and now have a presence on a carriers in the US and Europe.

Google moved into third position in the US and fifth on Western Europe thanks to strong sales of the Pixel 3. It was absent from the top five in every other segment, giving another strong indication that they want to move into those markets with the Pixel 3a and 3a XL in coming months.

Although we do not have the figures for Australia by itself, our region of APAC (excl. China) was the fastest growing region for the premium segment with a 27% YoY increase. The top five brands in the premium segment according to region of the world can be seen in the table below:




Apple Samsung Apple Samsung Apple Apple



Samsung Apple Samsung Apple Huawei Samsung



Huawei Huawei Huawei Huawei OPPO Sony



Sony Motorola OnePlus OnePlus vivo OnePlus


Motorola Nokia HMD LG Google LG Xiaomi Huawei


This year we are seeing a lot of innovation by the Chinese companies, especially Huawei and OPPO with their premium handsets already, and by the time you lump in the 5G developments this year you can definitely see them closing in on Apple who continue to stagnate and fall a long way behind in the innovation stakes (but still continue to sell at staggering rates for some reason).

Although 5G is not here yet it is expected that those looking to purchase new premium handsets towards the second half of this year will be looking to the future and want a 5G handset, something that OPPO and Samsung will have. It will be interesting to see what effect this has on the market share in the coming months and years.

We expect the Chinese manufacturers to continue to grow and lead the segment with Huawei, OPPO and OnePlus all increasing their presence on carriers worldwide. Here in Australia they are starting to gain more traction (except for OnePlus unless they decide to come here) at the high end and given their eye catching designs with impressive features we expect that to continue in the future.

What do you think?

Source: Counterpoint Research.
Via: 9to5Google.