Google Pixel is now the United States' fastest-growing smartphone brand [Update]

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.

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • Means nothing without actual numbers. I'm sorry.
  • Exactly. AC has become Google Fanboy Central. Claiming it's the fastest growing and that's a good thing without knowing the numbers is writing with ZERO critical thinking.
  • Most of these android sites are google fan boys. However AC is one of the sites that are he rally fair when reviewing non google android devices.
  • Interesting observation that a tech blog called "Android Central" might be made up of a bunch of people who are fans of Google... you're a ******* genius
  • So liberals are the only ones allowed to make comments without facts.
  • Agreed. I'm a fanboy and own a Pixel 3 XL and I find this hard to believe. I live/work in the NYC area and I have never seen one in anyone else's hands besides mine. On the subway or anywhere else.
  • Interesting. I live in Boston and was on the T and saw three people in immediate view on their Pixels.
  • @sn2hotty I find that hard to believe, I also live and work in NYC. I have a Pixel 3xl and I have definitely seen other random people with it.
  • Interesting. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough. LOL
  • I live in the uk and I have to admit that I’ve seen a fair few pixel 3’s in London oh my commute.
  • Ok. So we know they sold about 2M Pixels, around 4-5M Pixel 2s, so figure about 8+M of the 3's. If trend continues to grow, 16+M for the 4's and 30+M for the 5's. Not all that unbelievable.
  • Really? And you know these numbers, how? Google doesn't release them. We got some rough number of units HTC shipped for the Pixels, but shipped doesn't mean sold and in the hands of customers (especially if you take into account RMAs). Beyond that, there are no solid numbers.
  • Well brainiac. Back in the OG Pixel days, about six months into sales, there was an app that was specifically to the pixels that showed over one million installs. Then some browser stats showed close to 2M (an estimate I am guessing). My numbers are pure speculation, just as the people that are throwing around the numbers 'one' and 'two'. But my numbers to date are not unreasonable. You could factor in overall smartphone sales growth stalling or slowing. But if Google keeps it up, they would most definitely have solid growth to out them in the top five, in the States, in the next couple of years.
  • Google sold 2 this year vs. 1 last year. Sales have doubled, making it the fastest growing smartphone.
  • Must be why Google doesn't even mention them in their sales reports. Because they're selling so well and growing so much. Next thing and Android Central will be reporting on "Google Pixel is the best selling phone worldwide according to Fortune Teller Madame Googoo". Desperate much?
  • Wow... You all fail to realize they don't really need numbers, they aren't talking about units sold. They're talking about overall growth of a brand. I went to skewlz for mechanics, so I'm an expert when making comments about statistics.
  • Sounds about right
  • Yes, they do need numbers. As I sarcastically pointed out, if they sold 1 phone last year, and sold 2 this year, that's a huge growth rate. But they still only sold two f'in phones. Without the numbers, you can't place a value on growth, whether it's meaningful or not.
  • Think about it, Google is still small in the Smartphone Market, however their other business aren't
  • And, they sell so well that they lower the prices for the Pixel 3 every other day.
    Yes that is clearly an indicator that it's flying off the shelves *scnr*
  • Because Samsungs aren't BOGO at Verizon all the time?
  • Pretty impressive considering the largest growing smartphone makers are from other countries. Congrats Google!
  • I mean seeing how this is still a relatively new brand and they began from 0, this isn't really surprising. Get back to me once they start selling in samsung or apple type numbers. 
  • Premium1 all your points are valid because I barely see a pixel in the wild.
  • I may have seen one out in the wild, but samsung, apple, and even LG surprisingly are what I see most often. 
  • AC now stands for Advertisement Central. Sick of all of the “articles” that are really ads. Plus, nothing else exists besides a Pixel.
  • I'm getting really sick of all the large ads after every 4th article in the list and the ads that now appear in the articles. Next I guess they'll appear in the comments section. Any one suggest a got ad blocker for a tablet?
  • Sure, just use Samsung's Internet Browser if you're using an android tablet. I got nothing for iOS or Windows.
  • To get rid of all ads, you just need an earlier version of the app. Luckily, I backed up my apps a long time ago. Uninstalled the ads version, reinstalled the old app. Just don't ever update the app. I am using version 3.1.14
  • Yeah, they really must be hurting. So many articles are for the Playstation or stuff that isn't even Android. It was very clear something changed around the time Phil left. Just scrolling for 2 seconds I see "articles" about Playstation Classic, Farm SImulator on PS4, a vacuum, a TV, Playstation 5 and a power strip. That was literally like 4 scrolls of the mouse wheel.
  • And then they list an article about annoying popup ads in applications and then do the same thing. I am guessing that was the authors way of letting us know they were coming and that he/they hate the too. Gotta pay the bills somehow. No hate here.
  • Usually when data is given partially is not good news.
    Growing in proportion from almost nothing is not good news
    So if they achieved 10% of the high end market it would be a surprise.
    Probably a Chrome OS version with WiFi Display and keyboard - as Genesis -
    plus joystick similar to Nintendo Switch would increase sells a lot, but it is not their target now.
  • Gotta love meaningless metrics.
  • I might have seen 1 pixel in the wild and it's on its 3rd year lol
  • That's more than I've seen. I've seen zero Pixels in the wild. I've even seen Oppo phones, and who sees those?
  • Glad Pixel phones are gaining momentum. As soon as Google/Android gets a real advanced text messaging system going without relying on having to use 3rd party apps I’ll be all over another Pixel. And a really good smart watch fitness tracker combo.
  • I travel from time to time on my big and in my travels, I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen a Pixel device in the wild; a few of those times was at Best Buy. The smartphone market is dominated by Apple and Samsung and LG in a distant third.
  • Both my wife and me have Pixel 2XL's and are very happy. I've had several acquaintances to switch from iCrapple because of the quality of our photos. Doesn't surprise me that Pixel is fastest growing brand in US. It just works.
  • Fastest growing just because it's market share is so low. So any growth makes it seem big. If we would take share numbers of smartphones sold, pixel is not doing great.
  • I have seen one Pixel in the wild in my lifetime. But I see them EVERY day here!
  • Only ever seen them on display in the phone shops in the UK, yet to see one in the wild. I wonder how many they have sold compared to how many they have given away to YouTubers as part of the #teamPixel campaign?
  • As someone who works in the cellphone industry for T-Mobile. I see more Pixels in the wild then I see LG phones and we don't even sell the Pixels. We actually sell LG devices. They're a lot more popular then people give them credit for. I myself have been an XL owner since the first Pixel. I have the Pixel 2 XL now and ordered the Pixel 3 XL. I see them all the time. Apple still dominates followed by Samsung, but Google is catching up.
  • I am sure that highest ever growth of the Pixel brand happened in 2013.
  • I've never seen a Pixel except in ads. I've seen a boat load of iPhones and Galaxys. People on the low end usually have LGs or Motos.
  • Apple's going down faster then pixel going up for sure
  • You can't be serious with that comment. Apple sales more in a month than Google sells all year. Also, the Pixel may be growing but it is taking sales away from other Android makers not Apple. Matter of fact recent number show iOS gained market share in the US this last quarter. But whatever makes you feel better about
  • Look at all these dingleberries complaining of AC displaying no "critical thinking". You all really make yourselves look like asses without critical reading abilities. How about instead of being quick to jump to the keyboard and ******** about data not being present you use ½ a brain cell and click on the SUPPLIED REFERENCE LINK that has the DATA and source for this article. People really are becoming dumber.
  • Forgot to add... People are forgetting that Pixel actually started as the NEXUS line. So, no, not really from 2013.... From several years earlier.
  • Did you click the reference link? What does it say?
  • It says it wants to give you a lot tracking cookies, some of them first party, some of them third party, because tracking you is an important part of their business. Didn't read much past that...
  • And that started as T-Mobile G1 in 2008... none of which was *branded* as Pixel, so what was the point you were trying to make, again?
  • I think you need to check YOUR reading skills. "There aren't any numbers associated with the report"
  • Why does it keep placing my response in the wrong place?
  • I think you need to check YOUR reading skills. "There aren't any numbers associated with the report"
  • Joe, people who install Android Central and occasionally get sucked into reading Pixel pablum like your article aren't stupid. As the earlier comments attest, the people have called out BS. I'm sure Google has thanked you for putting on a cheer leading skirt and pom poms.
  • You have no numbers, but you do have a statement?
    Pure AC BS.
    Pixel is the fastest growing smartphone my a.s.s....... GTFOH
  • How was this info obtained?
  • After a couple of lines of cocaine right off of a Pixel phone in the Android Central bathroom.
  • I don't believe it I've seen more BlackBerrys and Nokias in the wild in the last 3 years then i have seen a pixel
  • I guess it will continue the upward trajectory until consumers realize that Google is peddling devices with faulty motherboards and then refusing to stand by their product when the issue is their hardware and software updates. I hope the class action suit in the works takes them down.
  • So instead of selling 1,000 they sold 1,430 phones? Or was it 1,000,000 to 1,430,000 phones? Without numbers this means nothing and that is why it was reported as a percentage. It gives the impression they sold a lot of phones but if I was a betting man I would bet they didn't sell all that many. If they had they would have reported actual numbers.
  • I have the pixel 3 xl, and I absolutely love the phone and while I have probably seen like 10 pixels in the wild over the last 3 years I got a nephew who works at Verizon who told me that at least one of his co-workers sells a pixel 3 everyday at his store and he himself who owns a iPhone 8 said if he would ever have to leave apple, the Pixel would be the only other phone he would get. So while we don't have the numbers to see what's Pixel growth looks like the phones must be on a rise they are selling. And more and more ppl are starting to have the Pixels in mind thanks to the power of advertising.
  • Well, that settles it. Your anecdotal evidence proves it beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Lol you gotta say he's funny though
  • Hi. Galaxy Note 9 owner here (previous owner of Note 8, S8+, Note 5, Note 4...). I see a lot of wannabe market analysts here. Allow me to help you understand why this is good news for the Pixel. Imagine a pie with radial slices of different sizes cut. The biggest pieces would represent Apple and Samsung in the US. One of the smaller pieces can represent the Google Pixel brand. As you might have already figured, these slices represent the US Market share of each smartphone brand. Now, image the size of the pie changes. If the pie expands, that would represent a growth in the overall market. In this scenario, even if each slice does not increase in terms of its fraction of the pie (The brand's market share is not increasing), it is still experiencing growth (It's growth is growing in proportion to the growth of the market).
    Now, let's consider the alternative: The size of the pie decreases. That means that the entire market is seeing a decline in overall volume of sales. If each brand maintains their portion of the market share, ALL OF THEM WILL SEE A DECLINE IN GROWTH. Now, in the real-life case of the pixel, the entire market has decline 23%. Yet, the pixel saw a 43% increase in growth. So the size of the pie has shrunken. But if the slice that represents Pixel increased, the only way it could have done so is by increasing its fraction of the pie. Thus, The pixel's market share has increased.
    Actual numbers are not needed to understand the achievement here. Even if those numbers are small, its good news. How many device makers are in the US Market? Everyone fighting for their slice of a currently shrinking pie. Any business (no matter how small) that sees this type of growth in this type of environment has a very good reason to smile. They are moving in the right direction.
  • I sold 3 bottles of snake oil in 2017. I sold 6 bottles in 2018, which is 100% growth, and that's even better than the Pixel's growth. That's a good reason to smile. I'm moving in the right direction.
  • Thank you for the 3rd grade example. Now let's move to a 5th grade analysis of an example similar to yours... There were 20 bottles of snake oil sold in 20 2017. There were 15 bottles sold in 2018, representing a 25% decline. Scammer's Snake Oil ( a Snake Oil Brand) sold 3 bottles in 2017 and 5 bottles in 2018 (a 66.7% increase). That increase in a declining market means that Scammers Snake Oil went from having a 15% market share in 2017 to having a 33.3% market share in 2018 (more than doubling there previous share of the market. SEE, I CAN DO THAT TOO!!!!!
    Obviously the makers of Scammers Snake Oil deem it profitable to produce and sell snake oil in a market in which 15 are demanded in a year (Or else, they would not be in business.) As such, their growth and market share expansion is a good thing. And that was what my post was about (If you had read and understood it.) The point was that The Pixel, with mathematical certainty INCREASED THEIR SHARE OF THE MARKET with its GROWTH. That is a goal of any company. So, as I said, actual items sold numbers are not needed to understand that the pixel brand is growing with the information provided.
  • They stole the idea from the Forbes article.
    Key words are "fastest growing US brand". There are only 2 major US brands. Apple and Google.
  • That's a good point. I could start a US brand of television, sell one unit, and become the fastest growing US brand of TVs.
  • Key words don't tell the whole story - you're taking a mistaken impression. Go to the actual original source article by Strategy Analytics and you'll read that... "According to new research from our smartphone-tracker service, Google Pixel was the fastest-growing major smartphone brand in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2018. Google Pixel outgrew all its top-ten rivals, including Apple, Samsung and Motorola (Lenovo)."
  • My Pixel 2XL and now 3XL have been great. I believe they have held up much better then the Samsung's I've had prior. Samsung's would drop performance bad even after resets when software updates would happen.
  • I'm sure it will be like the iPhone once they are offered by more than Verizon.... The iPhones always sold well but once they were no longer at&t exclusive the sales exploded
  • When you consider how few they sold coming out the gate, they have no where to go but up. This is no news however, since Bader is trying to convince the world that the Pixel is the best phone ever made, they have to have some content affirming that stance.
  • trash reporting and/or statistics. your original number is 1 phones, now you sell 2, that's a 100% sales increase. a week's iphone sales could be more than the entire run of a pixel. we don't know
  • Lol... Androidcentral... Yeah keep telling this to yourself to mask a total failed mid-range spec phone for premium prices. You must, because the best phones are no longer available in the US...
  • Gotta love the number of people on here who say "I've never seen one in the wild" because, you know, you can tell one glass rectangle wrapped in an otter box from any other glass rectangle wrapped in an otter box from across the room. Yes, fastest growing certainly doesn't mean most sold. Yes, it's easier to have a large growth percentage when you're starting from a smaller base number. The main takeaway is that they're trending in the right direction. Each release has been more successful than the last. Competition is good; it drives the market forward. Just enjoy that you have choices when it comes to your smartphone needs