This premium segment grew much faster (7%) than the total smartphone segment in the quarter, the firm said, adding that growth was driven by increases in shipments by Chinese brands like OPPO, Vivo, Huawei, OnePlus and Xiaomi.
Counterpoint analyst Tarun Pathak said the premium smartphone segment comprise 20% of the global market in the second quarter, with about 40 OEMs competing. But of these, the top five accounted for 88% of sales.
Following Apple in market share were Samsung (24%), OPPO (10%), Huawei (9%), Xiaomi (3%) and OnePlus (2%).
"Ninety-five percent of premium smartphone OEMs have a presence in the US$400 to US$600 segment. Going forward we expect that competition in the segment will increase as Chinese brands, with their flagship offerings, are planning to expand their presence further."
In the US$400 to US$600 segment, OPPO was joint leader with Apple at 22% share apiece, while Samsung (16%), Huawei (14%), Xiaomi (6%) and OnePlus (5%) followed.
Despite being last in that list, Pathak said OnePlus was among the fastest growing brands in that price range.
"OnePlus sales were driven by India, China and UK," he said. "In India it surpassed Apple and Samsung to become the #1 premium smartphone OEM during the quarter with a strong 40% market share.
"It was also among the top five premium smartphone OEMs in France (#4), Germany (#4), Italy (#5), the Netherlands (#4), Sweden (#3) and UK (#4) due to strong initial sales of the OnePlus 6."
For the more expensive smartphones in this segment, the US$600 to US$800 segment, Apple and Samsung devices comprised 85% of shipments with Huawei way behind.
And in the segment above US$800, Apple towered above the rest with 88% share in the quarter.
"Going forward, we estimate that the premium smartphone segment is likely to be more competitive," Pathak said. "We further expect that vertically integrated companies will leverage their expertise to gain share in the segment.
"With 5G around the corner and players like Apple pushing the price points higher, Chinese OEMs have a good chance of entering new price tiers in the premium segment to drive both increased revenue and profit."
Graphic: courtesy Counterpoint Research