OnePlus has once again emerged as the leader in the Indian premium smartphone category (retail price more than or equal to Rs 30,000) as the segment grew 66 per cent year-over-year (YoY) to reach an all-time record high in the third quarter of 2019. According to a report by Counterpoint Research, the growth in the segment was driven by new launches, aggressive offers, and channel push ahead of the festive season. Offers, such as payment plans (EMI), cashback and exchange discounts, on premium smartphone started well-ahead of the festive season – many in the last week of September and contributed to the growth.
With 35 per cent share, OnePlus led the segment followed by Samsung with 23 per cent share and Apple with 22 per cent share. OnePlus grew 95 per cent -- which is more than the segment itself -- and remained the fastest-growing brand due to the strong performances by both the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7T series. Samsung shipments were helped by the new Galaxy Note 10 series, while the price cut for the iPhone XR drove Apple’s shipments.
The cumulative share of top three brands, however, declined to 79 per cent in Q3 as compared to 83 per cent a year ago. This highlights that other brands, mainly Oppo, Xiaomi, and Asus are growing in this segment. More than 20 flagship phone variants launched in Q3 2019, which is the highest ever in a single quarter.
‘While India’s premium segment is seeing strong growth the segment is still at a nascent stage, contributing just 5 per cent of the market by volume. This is still low when compared to markets like the US and China, where the premium segment accounts for 50 per cent and 22 per cent respectively. Brands are now increasingly focused on the premium segment to drive their share and profitability,’ Karn Chauhan, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, said in a blog.
With the 7T and 7T Pro, OnePlus now has its widest ever portfolio in India. This is helping the company target users looking to upgrade at various price tiers within the premium market. Additionally, the product features and expansion in offline channels further helped it to attract more users. The OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro were the best-selling and third best-selling models during the quarter, respectively.
'At OnePlus, we have remained committed to providing our users with the most exclusive combination of hardware and software, elevating user experience. The remarkable performance of our latest devices reassures us that we are headed in the right direction, and as the spirit of the brand goes, we choose to never settle for anything but the best for our community. Being an online-first brand so far, we are now focusing strongly on offline expansion though OnePlus experience stores and strategic retail partnerships in order to bring the OnePlus premium technology experience to consumers across India,' Vikas Agarwal, General Manager, OnePlus India, said in a statement.
For Samsung, price cuts on older flagships and the launch of the Galaxy Note 10 series helped it to grow 34 per cent annually. Almost half of the Indian ultra-premium segment (retail price more than or equal to Rs 45,000) shipments captured by Samsung were driven by the Galaxy Note 10 series.
Apple iPhone shipments in the premium segment grew at 45 per cent YoY. It recorded growth for the last two quarters following a series of quarters with negative growth (since Q4 2017). Apple’s comeback is largely due to the iPhone XR that captured half of Apple’s premium shipments in Q3 2019. The price cuts and strong promotions (cash back and EMI) on iPhones helped Apple to perform strongly in the market. The iPhone XR was the second best selling premium smartphone during the quarter.