With flagships from Samsung and Huawei now crossing the $1,000 mark, there's increased interest in "affordable flagship" devices that offer similar hardware at around the $600 price point. The latest data from Counterpoint Research reveals as much, with the likes of OPPO and OnePlus netting huge gains in the premium category.
OnePlus in particular managed to break into the top five global brands in the premium category for the first time, following its ascension to the top five spot in the U.S.. Strong sales of the OnePlus 6T accounted for the increase in market share, with China, India, and Western Europe driving 90% of its global shipments.
Phones selling for $400 and above are dubbed premium, and over the course of 2018 OPPO saw a massive 863% YoY increase in market share in this segment, with OnePlus coming in second with a 209% increase in market share. Xiaomi also saw a healthy 149% uptick in market share in the premium segment, and overall the category accounted for a 22% of all smartphone sales in 2018.
Although there are 40 manufacturers that cater to the premium segment globally, Counterpoint notes that the top five players account for almost 90% of the shipments. Apple is in the lead globally with a 51% market share, with Samsung coming in second with a 22% market share. Huawei is third with a 10% market share, followed by OPPO with a 6% share, and OnePlus with a modest 2% share.
That's still a considerable achievement when you consider OnePlus' global headcount is probably less than what Samsung employs just for rolling out updates to its phones.
China and the U.S. accounted for 50% of all premium sales, with the former seeing a 37% YoY increase and the latter noting a 10% uptick. It's also interesting to see how the top five differ in global markets, with Latin America and India favoring Samsung. Interestingly, Pixel devices have managed to break into the top five in the U.S. for the first time.
Another interesting point to note is just how dominant OnePlus is in India in this segment, with the company in second place behind Samsung with a market share of 36%. Sales from India account for over a third of OnePlus' global sales, which is why it rolls out its best devices in the country.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.