Smartphone Price Observations for 2021 and Outlook for 2022

Global inflation of goods due to supply chain issues, rising energy prices, labor shortages and higher input costs has also made an impact on the handset market and will continue to keep prices inflated through 2022. In 2021, smartphone prices spiked globally but the inflation will be felt differently in various regions across the world.

North America
  • 10% YoY ASP increase in first three quarters of 2021 due to increased shipping and component costs.
  • Pre-paid segment experiencing more shortages as OEMs place more importance of producing high-end models.
Latin America
  • 4.7% YoY ASP increase in first three quarters of 2021, region seeing the worst inflation in 15 years.
  • Local currency depreciation having a significant impact on ASPs, Samsung being the only OEM to sell devices in local currency giving them a competitive advantage.
  • 70% of customers need a payment plan in order to afford a smartphone, this is leading retailers to incorporate ‘hidden inflation’ in customers payment plans.
Southeast Asia
  • 2.0% YoY ASP increase in first three quarters of 2021, smallest amount of inflation compared to other regions and not expected to change much in 2022.
  • OEMs are keeping prices as low as they can and will continue to do so, unless other macro factors like COVID-19 ramps up again in this region, that may affect ASPs in 202 depending on the impact on current supply chains.
Middle East and Africa
  • 17.4% YoY ASP increase in first three quarters of 2021, the highest inflation globally at close to 8% as foreign exchange rates drop due to pandemic impacts on some key markets.
  • Supply disruptions for major Android vendors caused an impact on the distributers bottom line that forced these OEMs to pass the cost onto the customers.
  • Lowest price ranged devices felt the most impact of inflation, as OEMs are once again placing more importance on the supply of higher-priced handsets. This is causing customers with lower income hesitant on buying the latest phones.
  • There is also the expectation of more VAT or higher import taxes on handsets in the near future due to government policies to combat depreciating domestic currencies.
  • 10.2% YoY ASP increase in first three quarters of 2021 due to shortages and supply issues as well but there was a GST hike in India during 2021 that added to the price of handsets in India.
  • OEMs are developing ‘creative pricing’ to hide the price increases by device as a newer version without upgrading specs and then selling at a higher price point.
Smartphone Chipset Observations and 2022 Outlook

Wafer prices at matured nodes have increased by 25%-40% between 2020 and now, likely to rise another 10%-20% in 2022. Advanced/leading edge nodes are not expected to rise since companies like TSMC and Samsung and more focused on cost-down execution to maintain profitability.

TMSC announced it will raise wafer prices from the beginning of 2022, this strategy implying a stronger demand going forward with tight supply lasting for the next few quarters. Smartphone OEMs will suffer the most on profit if they cannot balance the prices of handsets to customers. 5G growth may slow down in 2022 while the low-end and mid-end markets will face more difficulty as priority will be put onto high-priced smartphones that bring in a higher profit margin.

OEMs have been reluctant in 2021 to increase prices significantly with the fear of losing market share, so other strategies will be taken in 2022 to maintain costs. OEMs now must get creative in where to offset the cost of more expensive components. Xiaomi, for example, has taken steps to reduce the promotions on their handset devices to combat the increased prices of components. Some OEMs may have been prepared by stockpiling components at the beginning of the pandemic to offset the price increase. Many handset OEMs were not prepared in that sense, so the plans have been turned to reducing the Bill of Materials (BoM) costs in 2022 to offset the higher component cost and additional inflation.

For full report by Yang Wang, please see: Smartphone Price Observations for 2021 and Outlook for 2022

LATAM Smartphone Shipments Fall 36% YoY in Q2 2020 on COVID-19

  • Online sales more than doubled in the region.
  • Motorola’s share increased by 7.1 percentage points.
  • Smartphone shipments in LATAM declined 19.5% QoQ.

New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires – August 31, 2020

Smartphone shipments in the LATAM market continued to fall during Q2 2020, showing a drop of 19.5% QoQ and 36% YoY, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service. However, the shipments started recovering after hitting a record low in April due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Commenting on the Q2 2020 LATAM market OEM performance, Senior Analyst Tina Lu said: “In Q2 2020, we experienced further market concentration. Large brands grabbed shares from the smaller ones. As a result, ‘others’ volume suffered the biggest impact, declining to around half of last year’s level. Top five brands represented more than 81% of the shipments in Q2 2020, a 4.8 percentage points increase compared to Q2 2019. Motorola and Xiaomi drove this growth, together registering more than 10 percentage points increase in their share. Huawei, on the other hand, lost 4.8 percentage points, despite its global leadership.”


Exhibit 1: Smartphone Shipment Market Share, Q2 2020

Counterpoint LATAM Smartphone Shipment Market Share Q2 2020

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor, Q2 2020


Commenting on the handset demand, Research Analyst Parv Sharma said: “Online sales more than doubled in the region. But they were low before the lockdown. Online events such as the ‘Hot Sales’ event in Mexico increased online sales share. Some other events also stimulated consumption. In May, it was Mother’s Day across many countries while Colombia had the ‘No VAT day’ in June.”

On the average selling price (ASP), Lu said: “The lockdowns also drove currency depreciation against the US dollar in most LATAM markets. Hence, most mobile devices saw price increases, placing additional pressure on the ASP. All top OEMs’ ASPs were impacted. Samsung was the most resilient OEM as its flagship model sales remained unaffected compared to the same quarter last year. On the other hand, Huawei ASP had the highest YoY drop. It lacks competitive models in the high and premium segment, affected by the ban on having Google Play Store on its devices.”

Exhibit 2: Smartphone ASP Decline by Brand, Q2 2019 vs Q2 2020

Counterpoint LATAM Smartphone ASP Decline by Brand, Q2 2019 vs Q2 2020

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Pulse, Q2 2020


Key Takeaways

  • Motorola’s share increased by 7.1 percentage points compared to the same quarter last year. This is almost 48% growth YoY.
  • Motorola increased its share in most markets of the region. Mexico was the main booster. However, Brazil is still Motorola’s most important market in terms of volume.
  • Samsung continues to be the absolute market leader in LATAM.
  • It was quick to react to the market movement. It revived its Galaxy J2 Core model production. This model was in line to be phased out after the introduction of Galaxy A01. However, now it has become one of the bestselling models in the region
  • However, Samsung lost its leadership crown in Peru while it was somewhat challenged by Motorola in Mexico. Brazil remains its biggest market in terms of volume.
  • Huawei’s performance through the quarter had its ups and downs. In April, it recaptured the second spot in the region after almost one year of remaining third. But its share declined in the following months.
  • Huawei’s volume declined 63% YoY, impacted by the lack of components due to a trade ban, and the overall regional crisis.
  • Xiaomi was the only brand that saw a YoY volume increase. While its share more than doubled YoY, this growth was not without controversy. Its biggest market, Brazil, had most of the volume entering unlawfully through Paraguay. This fact has invited much criticism in Brazil.

The Market Monitor research relies on sell-in (shipments) estimates based on vendor’s IR results, vendor polling triangulated with sell-through (sales), supply chain checks and secondary research.

The comprehensive and in-depth Q2 2020 Market Monitor is available for subscribing clients. Please feel free to contact us at press(at) for further questions regarding our latest in-depth research and insights, or for other press enquiries.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in Technology products in the TMT industry. It services major technology firms and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analysis of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are experts in the industry with an average tenure of 13 years in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Tina Lu

Parv Sharma

Peter Richardson

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Smartphone ASP Growth to Continue in 2019 and Beyond

Global smartphone shipments declined 4% year-on-year YoY in 2018, but in stark contrast, the average selling price (ASP) increased 9% YoY. This was the highest ever growth in smartphone ASPs for a full year. The effect of rising ASP was such that despite lower shipments, smartphone revenues for the full year in 2018 grew 5% YoY. According to our findings, the growth in the ASP was driven both by premium segment as well as the mid-segment (Exhibit).

Exhibit: 2018 Sell through Growth by Price band


OEMs are increasing their ASPs with each iteration of flagship launches. In 2017, the first smartphone priced above US$1,000 entered the market with the Apple iPhone X. The iPhone XS and XS Max have taken this even higher in 2018. As iPhones become more expensive, an opportunity has opened up for other OEMs to enter higher price bands. This is, at least partially, the reason that 2018 flagships from key Android OEMs like Samsung, Google, Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, OnePlus were priced higher than earlier years. There is also a material cost increase pushing up prices. For example, increased memory, higher quality, faster processors, curved displays, more cameras, new features like Artificial Intelligence (AI), bezel-less display, innovative industrial design or color-material-finishing, are some of the costlier new features on the latest flagships.

While the premium segment remains niche and a more relevant for developed economies, it is the mid-segment which is more volume centric and driving up ASPs in emerging economies. There has been a rapid diffusion of features from the premium segment to the mid-segment, which is giving users enough value proposition to upgrade. For example, premium design factors like punch-hole display, pop up cameras, triple cameras, high megapixel cameras, in-display fingerprint sensor, and more, have already proliferated the mid-segment. With prices of the phones below US$300, these feature-loaded devices have become attractive to a big bulk of consumers who value device utility and value for money rather than the exclusivity of the latest flagship models.

The increasing ASP trend is also similar to consumer behavior. According to Counterpoint’s Consumer Lens Survey, although users are holding on to their devices for a longer time, they are willing to spend more on their devices.

As we enter the second half of the year in 2019 and OEMs refresh their flagship portfolio, the ASP in the premium segment will recover. However, with Apple decline, the collapse of the premium segment in Q1 2019, the trade ban on Huawei, and lengthening replacement cycles – the focus on the volume centric mid-segment with shorter replacement cycles also becomes extremely crucial for OEMs to drive ASP growth. Consumers’ expectation for better performance will continue to drive up the demand for high-spec devices. ASPs will continue to grow in 2019 and beyond. Although after 2019, the rate of adoption of 5G will be a crucial factor in driving up smartphone ASPs.

The analysis is part of Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service. The report series provides detailed analysis of the vendor activity and performance, measuring both volume and revenue by sell-in by major regions and key countries (55+) and top (130+) vendors covering close to 95% of the global handset shipments. It answers the questions of which OEMs, brands and models are performing well, in which markets and why. It also addresses the main derivative impacts to the supply and distribution chains.

Top Smartphone Features Most Popular Amongst LATAM Users

According to the latest Counterpoint Market Monitor service, Smartphones represented 89% of Q3 2017 total mobile device shipments. Furthermore, smartphone volume increased by almost 8% compared to the same quarter in 2016, while ASPs decreased by almost 6% annually. Despite the decrease in ASPs, smartphone product features continued to improve.  However, with respect to smartphones features, LATAM is still behind many other regions.  The following is a snapshot from Q3 2017, of all the top features in smartphones.

Latin America Smartphone Product Specification Analysis

  • Almost 88% of smartphones shipped in LATAM during Q3 2017 were LTE enabled.
  • Argentina leads LTE enabled smartphone adoption in the region, while Peru and Colombia have the lowest rates of LTE adoption.
  • Almost 96% of the smartphones in LATAM run on Android OS. OS participation has not had much variation for most of 2017.
  • Four out of every five smartphones have an LCD display.
  • 56% of smartphones have a display size between 5.00”-5.49” and more than 72% have a display size that is <5.49”.
  • 74% of smartphones have a processor speed that is <2.00 GHz clock-speed while the remainder have higher speed (>2.0 GHz) processors – a segment that has more than doubled in share YoY.
  • One in two smartphones have a primary camera resolution >10.00 MP.

In 2017, Counterpoint conducted a series of consumer surveys in various countries around the globe.  LATAM consumers reported that they consider higher memory capacity, more battery life and a faster processor as the most important factors during the purchase of their next smartphone. Below is a closer look at two of the top features pointed out by consumers.

More Battery Life

High usage of public transportation and the lack of charging points in most public places makes battery life for many LATAM consumers the most important factor when choosing a smartphone. However, the average battery capacity of devices bought in LATAM during 3Q17 was only 2677 mAh, compared to a global average of just over 3000 mAh.

Since 2016, the global trend has been moving to 3000+ mAh batteries.  In LATAM, 3001-4000 mAh has been the segment with the biggest growth. In 3Q 2017 phones with larger batteries doubled their share YoY but remained a minority, with only 14% of the market.  In China during the same period, large battery devices represented 42% of the Chinese market. Both Samsung and Motorola brands have been driving the growth of this segment with Samsung Galaxy J7 and J5, and Motorola C Plus.


Exhibit 1: Smartphone Shipment Share by Battery Size

Source: Counterpoint Research: Quarterly Market Pulse Q3 2017


More Memory

Memory capacity has always been pushed down to minimum to decrease costs. In 3Q 2017, more than 75% of smartphones sold in LATAM had <16GB of NAND, with 8GB being the largest segment. This compares with a global average of 42%. Among all regions, only MEA-sold smartphones had a larger percentage of low memory devices with 89%.

A promising sign is that the segments of >32GB has more than tripled since last year, but it still represented only 22% of all the smartphones sold in LATAM during 3Q 2017. It is not surprising that our consumer research has shown that an increase in memory is within the top three requirements while purchasing a new device.


Exhibit 2: Smartphone Shipment Share by NAND Memory Capacity

Source: Counterpoint Research: Quarterly Market Pulse Q3 2017


LATAM, as a region, still has a lot of catching-up to do regarding smartphone features. However, users are becoming increasingly tech savvy and are increasingly demanding improved features when purchasing a new smartphone.  OEMs, especially the leading brands, will need to further understand local consumer desire and try to fulfill their brand users’ needs if they want to retain the loyalty of their current users.


The Big Acquisition: Lenovo acquires Motorola

The Big Acquisition:

The world’s leading PC manufacturer Lenovo acquired Motorola Mobility from Google for ~ USD 2.91 Billion. With this deal, Lenovo acquired the MOTOROLA brand and Motorola Mobility’s portfolio of smartphones such as Moto X, Moto G and the DROID™ Ultra series. In addition to current products, Lenovo gets ownership of the future Motorola Mobility product road map. However, Google retained ownership of the vast majority of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio, including current patent applications and invention disclosures.


With this deal, Lenovo will not only be able to expand its current portfolio of handsets, add a rich heritage of mobile handset design, engineering and manufacturing expertise but. Also gains Motorola’s brand and access to key North America & Latin America markets. This instantly makes Lenovo almost the third largest smartphone player in the global smartphone segment competing head-on with Huawei. Following table highlights the global smartphone sales and market share of the two companies in 2013 (Source: Market Pulse Service):

Chart 1: Global Smartphone Sales and Market Share, Jan-Dec 2013 (in million units)

Global Lenovo and Motorola Smartphone Sales and Market Share, Jan-Dec 2013 (in million units) 

Learning from the past, Lenovo efficiently utilized the brand value of IBM ThinkPads after acquisition and maintained it well, hence we expect Lenovo to maximize advantages of this acquisition and boost its competitive edge on a global level.

According to our quarterly Market Monitor service, Lenovo is the second largest smartphone vendor in the world’s biggest market, China. Lenovo is making strides to expand its presence outside of China entering into key emerging markets such as India, Russia and South East Asia. To become a global smartphone player, Americas market presence and growth is the key. Lenovo will look forward to leverage Motorola’s strong brand presence, mind-share and strong carrier relationships to succeed. Although Google retained Motorola Mobility’s key patent portfolio, including current patent applications and invention disclosures; still these companies together can offer handsets having innovative features and applications.


In light of the deal, Lenovo has stepped up promotions for its flagship Vibe X not only ahead of Chinese New Year season but also is evident in newspapers and roadside billboards in markets such as India to gain maximum mind-share. Lenovo has been pretty aggressive with its pricing in its domestic market which is evident from the wholesale ASP for this Chinese vendor. Lenovo’s portfolio and hence sales are heavily skewed towards the high-growth sub-US$100 segment. What Motorola deal could help Lenovo is to first create a strong mid-tier to high-tier smartphone portfolio.  This would help Lenovo boost its ASP, top-line and bottom line. For comparison, Motorola has been commanding healthy ASPs for its portfolio thanks to premium portfolio across key US carriers and generous subsidies. But, lately Motorola with Moto X & G has looked to create “affordable premium” portfolio which could disrupt the market and chimes well with Lenovo’s low-cost strategy.  Following is a snapshot of Motorola & Lenovo’s wholesale ASP over the past several quarters, sourced from Counterpoint Research’s Market Monitor service.

Chart 2: ASP, 2012Q1-2013Q3 (in USD)

Counterpoint Research - Lenovo Motorola Smartphones Wholesale ASP


Along with Motorola’s brand, engineering expertise, strong presence in Americas, Lenovo inherits a company which is operationally challenged. Motorola over the last several quarters have generated steep losses. This will remain a challenge for Lenovo on how it not only becomes the third largest vendor by volume but also becomes a profitable global smartphone brand.  Thus moving up the price-tiers in smartphone segment and gaining foothold in key subsidy driven markets will be   the key to become profitable by generating enough scale and balancing overall costs.

Furthermore, when such an acquisition occurs, human resources of the acquired company is impacted the most. There will be changes in terms of organizational structure, culture, company policies, etc. Moreover, employees at Motorola initially faced some challenges getting accustomed to Google’s culture over the last one year and now they will have to align to a Chinese company’s culture which might take a huge toll on these key resources. Brain drain effect and retaining key Motorola talent, as a result of acquisition, is going to also be one of the big challenges for Lenovo.

Also, acquiring Motorola does not necessarily mean that Lenovo will get instant access to the US operators’ selves and subsidies budget. The company will need to prudently leverage Motorola’s existing strong relationships with American channel partners to first get foot-in-the-door and then prove its low-cost leadership for long-term success.


We believe the company should retain the name ‘Motorola’ or even the brand name “Moto” to reap maximum benefits and launch new premium products with this brand especially in key Americas markets. Lenovo should follow the same co-branding strategy as they did by co-branding with “Thinkpad” brand and maintained the mind-share and market share in global enterprise PC market Furthermore, Lenovo should continue its “affordable premium” and “low-cost” aggressive strategy in key emerging markets to offer more value to the consumers and capture maximum market share and gain scale.  The next logical step for Lenovo would be to invest in software and services as well as R&D (for cellular IP) to compete with bigger players such as Samsung, Apple and Nokia.

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