Research firm Strategy Analytics recently published a report on its website with a pretty eye-grabbing headline — Google Pixel is Starting to Takeoff.

According to the report, Google's Pixel phones saw increased sales of 43% year-over-year in Q4 2018 compared to their performance that same time in 2017. The report goes on to show that growth in the smartphone market as a whole declined by 23% during that same period, but when talking about one small brand compared to an entire market, a direct comparison doesn't yield valuable insights. In any case, Strategy Analytics says that "Google Pixel was the fastest-growing major smartphone brand in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2018."

The report continues:

Google's Pixel 3 range benefited from weakness at Apple, Samsung, ZTE and others. Apple saw longer replacement rates, due to its battery-replacement program encouraging owners to hold on to existing iPhones for longer. Samsung struggled, due to soft sales of the flagship Galaxy S9 model. ZTE was shunned by authorities and carriers and demand for its smartphones collapsed.

Google didn't start releasing phones under the Pixel brand until 2016, and at that time, it was entering a market that was essentially dominated by the likes of Apple and Samsung. Even for a company of Google's size, that was still a big mountain to climb.

The original Pixel and Pixel XL weren't perfect, but they did deliver industry-leading cameras, were the first phones to ship with the Google Assistant, and offered an incredible software experience. 2017's Pixel 2 series refined the design and made the cameras even better. With the most recent Pixel 3 handsets, Google finally delivered on things like wireless charging, much better displays, and a premium all-glass construction.

Turns out people like Google's phones.

It's been quite fascinating to see the Pixel line grow and evolve over the past few years, and going into 2019 with this momentum, Google's in a position to hold onto that title of owning the fastest-growing smartphone brand in the U.S.

In addition to the Pixel 4 lineup towards the end of the year, we're also expecting a Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL to be released — providing a lot of what makes the Pixel 3 so great in a more affordable package for consumers.

Are you at all surprised by this report? If you live in the U.S., do you own a Pixel phone? Sound off in the comments below.

The Pixel 3 Lite will be Google's most important phone in 2019

Updated 2/12/19: Added numbers and additional quotes from the expanded report.