Apple completely dominates premium smartphone sales

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iPhone X
Sales of the iPhone X were vastly higher than the equivalently-priced Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Samsung sells more phones than Apple, and its high-end devices like the Galaxy S9 get lots of attention. That means Samsung sells as many top-tier models as Apple, right? Nope, not even close.

Apple sells close to twice as many premium phones as its top rival. In this case, “premium” is any handset costing over $400. Which is a fairly low bar.

iPhone captured 43 percent of the global premium smartphone segment in the second quarter of this year, according to Counterpoint Research.  Samsung was a distant second at 24 percent. They were followed by Oppo (10 percent), Huawei (9 percent), Xiaomi (3 percent) and OnePlus (2 percent).

This indicates that while Samsung sells many millions of phones, most of these are its inexpensive models, not flagship ones. Despite having nothing to offer under $400, iPhone sales on higher-priced models are very strong.

iPhone sales by the numbers

When the Q2 smartphone sales are broken down into various premium price categories, Apple was at or near the top of every cost segment. 

The iPhone maker had 22 percent of the $400-to-$600 range, essentially tying with Chinese firm Oppo. That’s where the now-discontinued iPhone SE used to go. Samsung had 16 percent of this category.

Apple and Samsung split the $600-to-$800 segment. Together, they accounted for 85 percent of smartphones in this price range. This was the category for models like the iPhone 8 and the Galaxy S8.

And the iPhone X and its sister models made up 88 percent of global sales in the $800+ category. This desn’t say good things about sales of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which cost about $950 in Q2.