We hate flagship phone prices, but that didn't stop us from buying them in 2023

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What you need to know

  • The premium smartphone market, consisting of phones costing $600 or greater, grew six percent in 2023, according to preliminary numbers from Counterpoint Research.
  • Ultra-premium smartphones, costing a thousand dollars or more, represented a significant part of the growth within the premium sector.
  • Apple is leading the charge, holding 71% of the premium smartphone market in 2023. 

Flagship phones continued to get more expensive in 2023, with the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra both starting at $1,200. But people continued to buy them at a higher rate than ever before, according to a report from Counterpoint Research. 

The sales figures for 2023, though preliminary, indicate that the market for premium smartphones increased by six percent in 2023. By definition, premium phones are those with a retail price of $600 or higher. Within that market, the ultra-premium market of phones sold at $1,000 or greater represented over one-third of sales in the premium sector. 

Apple continued its massive dominance over the premium market, holding a 71% share over it in 2023. Surprisingly, this was actually a decrease from its 75% market share in 2022. Samsung, Xiaomi, and Huawei each saw slight market share gains, to steal a few combined percentage points away from Apple. The only other smartphone OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to earn a percent or greater of market share for premium smartphones was Oppo, which also owns OnePlus. 

The growth in the premium smartphone market exceeded expectations for 2023. In part, due to global economic struggles and inflation, experts predicted the global market for smartphones to see a decrease in smartphones. Premium phones carried sales last year, and this is something that Counterpoint predicts will continue moving forward. 

Foldable phones continued to gain popularity last year, and Samsung may have gained market share with its Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold 5 series. Similarly, Huawei's successful Mate 60 Pro series contributed to its slight uptick in sales last year. 

Samsung has a chance to get off to a strong start in 2024 with its Galaxy S24 series, which will debut at an Unpacked event set for Jan. 17. 

The market continues to grow, especially for phones priced at $1,000 or more. Companies will likely keep trying to push the envelope until they find a price point that customers aren't willing to meet. 

Brady Snyder

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.

  • edubfromktown
    Waiting ~7 months after release "paid off".

    Direct from Samsung $300 off plus, (non-carrier-contract rope-a-dope) additional discounts got it to 45% off list price.
  • Stanley Kubrick
    edubfromktown said:
    Waiting ~7 months after release "paid off".

    Direct from Samsung $300 off plus, (non-carrier-contract rope-a-dope) additional discounts got it to 45% off list price.
    That's the key! None of these so-called flagships can do anything "better" than last years versions. So if you must have the latest greatest just pretend that the one you want is "new" even though it may be actually 6 months or more after the release date. You can save mucho dinero.