Apple Widens Gap with Samsung in the Premium Smartphone Segment in Dec 2016

Apple captured a record share of the important premium segment widening the gap with Samsung by more than 50%.

According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Monthly Market Pulse for December 2016 report which tracks the global smartphone sell-through performance via channel survey, the smartphone sell-through volumes crossed a record 150 million units globally in December and 1.5 billion units for the full year 2016.

Commenting on the findings, Jeff Fieldhack, Research Director at Counterpoint Research said, “During the first eight months of 2016, Apple saw its smartphone market share remain at a record low compared to the last few years. However, the iPhone 7 series launch has been able to offset most of the previous decline. The iPhone 7 series demand was healthy through the holiday period, especially in markets such as USA, Western Europe and Japan somewhat offsetting a softer than expected performance in China. Apple surpassed Samsung in December 2016 capturing a 19% share of the global smartphone sell-through volumes.

Furthermore, Apple’s share of the $400+ segment crossed the 70% mark in December 2016 from a low point of 47% in May 2016, which is commendable considering the premium segment growth has been flat annually. A healthy sell-through of iPhones in the channel points toward a strong holiday quarter from a shipments perspective and strong wholesale ASP as the mix shifted towards higher capacity and larger screen iPhone models. In markets, such as the USA, Apple’s share in the premium segment has reached close to a record 80% in this peak season.”

Dec 2016 Premium Segment APple vs Samsung

Source: Counterpoint Research: Monthly Market Pulse Dec 2016

Peter Richardson, Research Director at Counterpoint Research added, “Apple and Samsung’s share shifts in the premium segment (US$400+ wholesale) have been always been almost a zero-sum game, but the gap has widened to more than 50 percentage point difference. Part of the reason being the absence of Galaxy Note 7 and rising competition from rivals’ flagships such as Huawei Mate 8, Google Pixel and Moto Z in some markets. While Galaxy S7 series sales have been strong, they’ve not been strong enough to fill the void left by the Galaxy Note 7. It will be a testing time for Samsung with the upcoming flagship Galaxy S8 to claw back share and then maintain it until the next version of the Note is launched.”

Monthly Pulse - Apple Samsung Huawei

Source: Counterpoint Research: Monthly Market Pulse Dec 2016

Tina Lu, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research added, “Huawei has been the rising star and December 2016 was also the first-time Huawei crossed the 10% share mark globally. Huawei has also for the first-time been on par with Apple in terms of sell-through volumes in couple of months during 2016. This is a significant feat for the Chinese brand. Huawei aims to surpass Apple in volumes during 2017. However, performance in North America and key Asian markets will be the key. If it can build on its strong position in Europe, Latin America and Middle East Africa, then it has a chance to accomplish this milestone.”

Analyst Contacts:

Jeff Fieldhack
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Peter Richardson
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Tina Lu
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Market Monitor : Q1 2015 : Smartphone Brands Market Share By US Carriers

According to latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor quarterly tracker program, USA smartphone market crossed 40 million units at the end of Q1 2015 compared to 33 million units shipped in Q1 2014 last year.

  • The USA smartphone market grew a healthy 23% annually back to the 2011 levels
  • The demand was stimulated by accelerated replacement rates thanks to device installment + early upgrade plans and pent up demand for the new Apple iPhone 6 series
  • 9 out of 10 mobile phones shipped during the quarter were smartphones
  • More than 85% of the smartphones shipped were LTE capable
  • Apple was the top smartphone supplier by a wider margin with strong demand for its iPhones carried forward into first quarter coming from strong holiday season
  • One in three smartphones shipped in USA was an iPhone
  • Apple & Samsung together captured more than 60% of the total smartphone share and 70% of LTE smartphones share
  • Samsung smartphone share sin Q1 2015 was down 5% points compared to last year while LG almost doubled its smartphone share in USA market with greater shelf-share across all the carriers cementing its third spot in USA
  • LG, ZTE and TCL-Alcatel were the star performers growing faster than the market capturing share away from Samsung, Kyocera, Pantech and HTC during the quarter
  • ZTE was the number four smartphone brand closely followed by TCL-Alcatel as both the Chinese brands are carrier’s preferred low-cost manufacturers with strong traction in prepaid segment
  • In terms of in-carrier share for the brands, Apple dominated at all of the top four carriers capturing more than 40% of Verizon & AT&T’s smartphone shipments and more than a third of smartphone shipments at T-Mobile & Sprint respectively
  • T-Mobile (with MetroPCS) is now the second largest smartphone carrier buying more than 8 million units surpassing AT&T  and Sprint platforms.
  • Aggressive #Uncarrier tactics by T-Mobile continues to stimulate smartphone demand buying lot of phones from the suppliers during the quarter. However, we caution there might be some inventory at the end of Q1 2015 at T-Mobile
  • The growth in US smartphone market is good news for the overall industry as consumers are now buying more smartphones than last year, opens up opportunities for more brands such as OnePlus, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Meizu, Asus and others to make hay when the sun shines
  • In coming quarters, as carriers such as T-Mobile, AT&T promote more BYOD type subscribers, could stimulate open market unlocked devices sold through e-commerce channels. Players such as OnePlus, TCL-Alcatel have already launched smartphones with decent specs at highly affordable and competitive price points through open channels and we believe players such as Xiaomi also doing the same in future would drive smartphone growth
  • According to our latest Monthly Market Pulse report, the launch of Samsung Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge in US in April has been decent and the sell-through has been much better than the Galaxy S5 last year which will be an important factor to drive the growth and share for Samsung in Q2 2015.
  • But it remains to be seen if Samsung can sustain the initial momentum in April with upcoming LG G4 launch and the new iPhone launches in Q3 later this year

US Q1 2015 Smartphone Share By Carriers - Counterpoint Research.jpg

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Market Monitor : Q1 2015 : Handset & Smartphones India

According to the latest research from Counterpoint Research’s Market Monitor service, for Q1 2015 (Jan-March), the overall India mobile phone market  declined of 3% Y/Y and Q/Q decline of 15%. However, the smartphone segment registered an Y/Y increase of 21% though Q/Q decline of 8%. Feature phone segment also saw a sharp decline with shipment volumes down 13% Y/Y and 19% Q/Q. This is the second consecutive quarter where total mobile phone shipments in India registered a decline.

The following are the key findings from the Counterpoint Research analysis of the competitive environment in India in 1Q 2015:

  • The overall India mobile phone market declined by 3% Y/Y and 15% sequentially on account of seasonality and low sell-in during the quarter
  • India remains the third largest smartphone market in the world and during 1Q 2015 shipped almost twice as many smartphones as shipped in Japan
  • Smartphone shipments saw a Y/Y increase of 21% and a Q/Q decline of 8%. Smartphones contributed close to 37% of the overall shipments in 1Q 2015
  • Samsung led the overall mobile phone market and the smartphone segment during the quarter with market shares of 18.2% and 27.8% respectively
  • Samsung has used its distribution prowess to sell-in during the quarter as it executed aggressive smartphone launches during the quarter including the Tizen-based Z1
  • Micromax maintained the second position in both overall mobile phone market and the smartphone segment, but it registered steep decline as the overall mobile phone shipments down 28% Q/Q and the smartphone shipments down 26% Q/Q
  • Micromax’s new brand Yureka with the launch of its first Cyanogen powered LTE smartphone Yu started off well, but will need more models across price-bands to match the scale of Xiaomi and Motorola – both of which remained aggressive introducing new models during the quarter
  • Continuing its momentum from Q4 2014, Intex retained its position among the top five vendors both in overall handset and smartphone rankings, capturing slightly under 9% of the overall market during the quarter. Demand for Intex products in the sub-$100 smartphone price band remains strong
  • Lava excluding its sub-brand Xolo was also among the top five vendors in both overall mobile phone and the smartphone segment. The Lava IRIS series, especially the X1 smartphone, did well to put Lava marginally ahead of Lenovo-Motorola and thereby capturing the market’s 4th position.
  • Lenovo** raced to fifth position, primarily due to acquisition of Motorola, together capturing almost 5% of the Indian smartphone market during the quarter.
  • Although Xiaomi smartphone shipments declined during the quarter the vendor managed to be among the leading 4G smartphone brands during the quarter, thanks to brisk sales of Mi Note 4G and Redmi 2 4G
  • Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone shipments remained strong during the quarter thanks to its strong marketing push and enticing schemes such as buybacks and more. The Cupertino-based vendor is only a few thousand units short of achieving a land mark feat of crossing 1 million unit sales in the six months of its fiscal year since Oct 2014. An achievement that it took almost twelve months to manage in its last financial year.
  • Microsoft Lumia shipments however were not affected by the weaker seasonality factor and grew by almost 20% thanks to a solid performance by its mid-segment Lumia portfolio – especially the Lumia 535
  • India joins the countries in Europe like Italy, France and others where Microsoft Lumia traction is going strongly.
  • There has been significant push by Indian government for “Make in India”, and it seems like almost every of the top 10 mobile phone player has expressed their intentions toward setting up a manufacturing plant in India. However, we believe the real “Make in India” developments are still a good 12-18 months away due to the lack of component suppliers’ ecosystem. Players like Samsung & Micromax which are already assembling phones in India are well positioned to take advantage of early moves to local manufacturing as compared to other players


Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q1 2015 Report
Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q1 2015 Report
** Lenovo (Includes Motorola) in Q1 2015 & Q4 2014 but not in Q1 2014

The comprehensive and in-depth Q1 2015 Market Monitor is available for subscribing clients. Please feel free to contact us at analyst [@] counterpointresearch . com for further questions regarding our in-depth latest research, insights or press enquiries.

Snapshot of the smartphone market in May 2014

Every month we track the smartphone market across 35 countries from the supply chain to the retail POS and consumers to create accurate data and ultimately reveal the real sound of the market apart from the clutter our clients suffer from.

The overall Q2 2014 market is weak and larger vendors seem to suffer more than the smaller weaker ones. Below are the key takeaways from our regular Market Pulse report of May 2014.


1. The Market: In May handset sell through improved only slightly. Demand is getting better. Europe and the Emerging Markets improved but China is still slow and continues to contract. Japan and Korea are also weak although better than April. Sell-in shipments also followed the rise in sell-through sales demand. Q2 2014 is likely to be better than expected; potentially almost equal to shipments in Q1 2014.
Inventory at the industry level remain at manageable levels in most countries. Smartphones are now 69% of the market.

Sellin vs sell through_May 2014

2. Vendors: Most international brands did not see improvement in sales – especially Samsung. Samsung still leads in all price bands and regions but loses share everywhere, all price bands and most regions including China and USA. Apple gains in the US. Both Lenovo and Motorola enjoy growth. Mostly Emerging market local vendors (or local kings) take share from Samsung. See our report on Pakistan and Qmobile at Apple’s sales rebounded in the US due to changes in operator plans and deals. Lenovo has gained share with new models and Motorola is showing good momentum since its Moto G launch.

APAC accounted for the majority of Samsung’s sales and China contributes the most among countries, followed by US and India. The newly launched Galaxy S5 was the best selling handset in May but the “not-quite-sexy-enough” premium Galaxy S5 which seems to have peaked at 5 million units a month. The mid-low tier smartphones are also suffering as there aren’t new models. LG’s G3 effect is not showing yet but we expect it to kick-in starting from late June. Xiaomi sales in China started to fall as the flagship models grow old.


Smartphone market share by each month 2014

2014 May Smartphone share

3. Price-band analysis: The share of sales in the $400+ price bands (ASP or transfer prices) fell as the mix of local smartphone brands strengthened further. Emerging markets were also strong although China was weaker than expected. In May month 56% of global Android devices were under $200 a 1pp increase from April.

4. Hardware Features: Handset features have shifted more toward larger 5inch+ displays, which comprised 45% of all smartphones sold. In May, LTE could be found in 35% of the total smartphones sold. Samsung leads the LTE market with 38% share; followed by Apple with 29% of share; rest of the market was highly fragmented. LG left Sony behind and stood at 3rd position in May (last month it was 4th) but the Chinese are growing fast especially Huawei and Coolpad.

Market Monitor : Q4 2013 :: Handset & Smartphone Markets Landscape

Counterpoint Research team of Analysts have completed preliminary sizing of the global handset and smartphone market as few OEMs have already released their Q4 2013 performances. Following are our preliminary market share and rankings according to our quarterly Market Monitor service.

The key highlights of the quarterly performances so far include:


  • Handset shipments to reach close to half a billion units for the Q4 2013 quarter (Growth 1% YoY)
  • Smartphone shipments crossed 300 million units for the first time = The total smartphone shipped in entire 2010  (Growth 34% YoY.)
  • Demand across North America remained soft while markets such as India saw healthy demand.
  • Our Market Pulse data suggests healthy sell-out volumes for Apple, Nokia, LG but Samsung, ZTE and some others are showing signs of inventory build-up which could affect their Q1’13 performance


Overall Mobile Phones

Q4 2013 Handsets OEM Shipments Market ShareSource: Market Monitor 

  • Alcatel One Touch closing on in for the fourth spot in global mobile phone rankings. Almost tied at 4% share with Huawei & LG. It still has robust feature phone business and growing smartphone volumes unlike LG & Huawei, North America market growth the key.
  • Samsung almost peaking in the mobile phone market with flat annual growth and down sequentially from a peak. Feature phone volumes declining & smartphones under pressure
  • Nokia down 24% annually as feature phone volumes continue to slide due to Android onslaught in sub $100 segment & smartphones not offsetting the decline
  • Huawei about to peak in mobile phones as feature phones almost vanishing with gaining strong smartphone share in China, Latin America but postpaid markets growth softer
  • LG’s next target would be to cross 20 million per quarter mark, for that it needs to solve its weakening position in Asia, the high growth region


Counterpoint Research - Q4 2013 Global Smartphone OEM Share Main

Source: Market Monitor

  •  Samsung leads the pack shipping more smartphones than the next top three OEMs combined but growth is past peak as Apple is attacking in premium-tier and Chinese OEMs in low-tier segments
  • Apple registered highest ever iPhone shipments the overall marketshare dipped as Apple grew below the market average due to focus in a stagnant premium-tier. Apple still can expand its share in premium segment over the next three to four quarters capturing lion share of industry profits
  • Huawei maintained its third spot in global smartphone rankings with a flat marketshare. Moving up the tier increasing its ASP will be the key goal as well with its “affordable premium” strategy
  • LG was the fastest growing OEM among the top 5 smartphone brands as the L-series helped expand volumes and rising G-series high-to-premium tier improve its top-line
  • Nokia shipped 8.2 million Lumias but grew below the market average and the volumes were flat sequentially. The momentum has been slowed down due to absence of sub-$100, multi-SIM & killer premium smartphone models to succeed in important markets such as China & US respectively.

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