Premium shines as mid- to low-end smartphone market trends down in H1

Continued economic recession in major markets and the expansion of the used smartphone market – which of late has seen better deals and increased sophistication in device recycling – have seen the global smartphone market record negative growth, with the mid- to low-end market hitting particular strong headwinds, according to research from Omdia.

Yet while the Smartphone model market tracker – 2Q23 revealed ongoing issues in the mid to low end, the premium smartphone market was found to be steadily increasing because replacement demand for Apple’s premium models remains solid. Indeed, as the preference for Apple increases as a premium smartphone, especially in emerging markets, the sales volume and proportion of high-end models such as the Pro and Max models have continued to increase among Apple’s iPhone series.

Comparing the top 10 models for the same period last year, the study said the iPhone 14 Pro Max was the most-shipped smartphone worldwide in the first half of this year, with Apple shipping a total of 26.5 million. Yet sales of the top-ranked model decreased by 7.2 million units for this year’s iPhone 14 Pro Max. The iPhone 13 was last year’s top-selling model, with a total of 33.7 million units shipped. However, when comparing the same lineup, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which took second place last year, shipped 23 million units, whereas its successor, the 14 Pro Max, shipped 3.5 million units more this year and rose in rankings by one notch.

Shipments of the 14 Pro increased by 6.2 million units compared with its predecessor, the 13 Pro, and saw its ranking rise by two notches. However, comparing the standard 13 and 14 models, shipments of the 14 this year decreased by 17.2 million units compared with the 13.

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Five Apple models were in the top 10 smartphones chart, with Samsung smartphones occupying the remaining five. Among Samsung’s models, the Galaxy A14 recorded the highest shipment volume, which ranked 5th with 12.4 million units. Compared with last year’s Galaxy A13, which ranked third with 16.2 million shipments, both shipments and rankings decreased compared with the previous product.

Samsung’s premium model, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, retained the same ranking as last year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G at sixth, but saw total shipments decrease by 0.2 million units to 9.6 million units. The Galaxy A14 5G, A54 5G and A34 5G rounded out the remaining three places respectively.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max was the most expensive model in the 14 series that Apple released last September, and is priced from $1,099 to $1,599. Taking second place was the Apple iPhone 14 Pro – the second-most expensive model in the 14 series, priced from $999 to $1,499. The model with the third-largest shipment was the iPhone 14, making it the third 14 series model by Apple to enter the top 10 rankings for this quarter.

Last year, two models of Xiaomi’s Redmi series entered the top 10, but these failed to make it this year. Omdia attributed this to the fact that shipments of Chinese smartphone set makers have continued a double-digit decline since 2022 due to the slump in the mid- to low-end smartphone market, and shipments of individual models are also decreasing.

Going forward, Omdia predicts global smartphone shipments will decline again this year. In particular, it expects the slump in the mid- to low-end market to continue into the second half of 2023, and the increasing portion of the premium market is due to continue in the second half of this year with the launch of the iPhone 15 series.

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“Shipments of Android-based smartphone OEMs, which have a high portion of mid- to low-priced smartphones, will inevitably see another round of negative growth this year,” said Jusy Hong, senior research manager at Omdia.

“On the other hand, Apple’s shipments of Pro and Pro Max will increase due to solid demand for premium models, but overall iPhone shipments this year will be similar to last year or decrease slightly due to weak demand for standard and plus models.”

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