Counterpoint Research has released its list of the ten highest-selling smartphones in the world in 2022. The list has made several eyebrows rise in surprise. That is because while some phones were expected to be among the annual bestsellers, there were some surprises and many notable absentees. This is what the ten highest-selling smartphones in the world in 2022 tell us:
Number Of Smartphone Models Dip, Top Ten Share Remains Consistent
The ten highest-selling phones of the year accounted for 19 per cent of the total phone sales of 2022, the same as the top ten did in 2021. However, the year in general saw the number of smartphone models in the market register a steep fall.
According to Counterpoint, there were over 4,200 active smartphone models in the global market in 2021, but this number came down to around 3,600 in 2022, and is expected to decline even further.
Apple’s iPhone has been the bestselling smartphone in the world for a while now. However, it seemed to hit a different level of domination in 2022.
Of the ten highest-selling devices of the year, no fewer than eight were iPhones, up from seven in 2021.
There were iPhones at the top three positions and from the fifth to ninth position as well. All that stood between them and a perfect ten were two Samsung devices. The iPhone was the highest-selling smartphone in the world in every month of 2022.
Eight Premium Smartphones… And Two Budget Offerings
The list of ten bestselling smartphones reveals a very curious contrast. Eight of the ten devices are iPhones, as we pointed out earlier, which are premium devices by any definition.
However, the other two devices in this list of ten are actually relatively lower priced ones, and can even be called budget devices — the Samsung Galaxy A 13 at number 4 and the Samsung Galaxy A03 at number 10.
The Samsung Galaxy A13 was launched at Rs 14,999, while the Galaxy A03 was launched at an even lower Rs 10,499.
Interestingly, the predecessor of the Galaxy A13, the Galaxy A12 was also part of the top ten-selling phones list of 2021. The A series has always done well for Samsung.
The Year Of The iPhone 13
The iPhone 13, released in 2021, turned out to be the highest-selling smartphone in the world in 2022. As per the data released by Counterpoint, the iPhone 13 was the highest-selling device in the world every month from January to August 2022.
It gave up its top spot only when the iPhone 14 series was released in September. Interestingly, the global sales trend of the iPhone 13 contrasts with the Indian one, where the phone’s popularity shot up in the latter part of the year, thanks to a number of festive offers on it.
The iPhone 13 had an astounding 5 per cent share of the market in 2022 — an amazing figure when you consider that the other nine phones in the list could not even manage 2 per cent each. In simple terms, one of every twenty smartphones bought in 2022 was an iPhone 13.
Even the iPhone 12 which was the bestselling phone of 2021, had a share of 2.9 per cent in that year. In fact, the iPhone 13 sold more than the phones at number two and three put together and accounted for 28 per cent of all iPhones sold in the year.
Samsung Wins Back Budget Phone Ground
A notable absentee from the top ten list was Xiaomi. The Chinese brand had two devices in the top ten list of 2021 but drew a blank in 2022.
Samsung’s getting two budget devices in the top ten seems to indicate that the Korean brand has got itself back into the budget zone, where it had been losing ground to Xiaomi and other Chinese brands.
It is also interesting to note that none of the budget Android devices is from Motorola. Realme or OnePlus (whose Nord CE range ran up impressive numbers in India) made it to the top ten.
Incidentally, the Samsung Galaxy A03 is the only device in the top ten to be running on a budget UniSoc processor.
The Big, Bulky, Expensive Bestsellers
Both the iPhone 13 Pro Max and its successor, the iPhone 14 Pro Max were criticized for their bulk and weight, and also for their hefty price tags. Both started at USD 1099 in the US, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s starting price in India stood at Rs 1,29,900, while the iPhone 14 Pro Max started at Rs 1,39,900.
You would think that hefty phones with hefty price tags would not generally strike a chord with consumers, who would perhaps prefer devices that were easier on the pocket in every sense of the word. Well, that was so not the case in 2022.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max and the iPhone 14 Pro Max were the second and third most popular smartphones of 2022, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max was actually the highest-selling phone in the world from September to November 2022, losing out to the iPhone 14 only in December 2022.
It is the first time a Pro Max variant has driven more sales than the Pro and base models of a series.
Exit, Chinese Brands?
2022 was the first year in a while in which no Chinese brand had a smartphone in the top ten bestselling smartphone list. This is surprising when you consider that there are a number of Chinese brands in the global top ten in terms of market share.
Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Huawei, Motorola, and Realme all have significant global market shares, and OnePlus is gaining popularity as well (
However, no phone from these brands made the list of globally bestselling smartphones. That would seem to indicate that these brands’ sales are spread over a wide portfolio of devices, rather than a few ones.
The Super Curious Case Of One Big And Three Small iPhones
It was not smooth sailing for all iPhones, however. There were some notable absentees. None of the smaller iPhones — the iPhone 12 mini or the iPhone 13 mini — or the recently launched large-sized iPhone 14 Plus, made the top ten list.
The absence of the mini models is a surprise when you consider that these came with the lowest price tags of their series at the time of launch and generally received extremely favourable reviews.
That said, one relatively small iPhone did make the list — the iPhone SE (2022) edition took ninth place, and after a very weak start (which led to many writing it off as a failure), ended the year as a regular member of the group of ten highest selling phones of the year.
Clearly, there is still room for a phone with a single camera and HD LCD display in the premium segment – the phone is believed to have done particularly well in Japan.
The absence of the iPhone 14 Plus from the list is a big surprise, when you consider that “bigger” iPhones like the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the iPhone 14 Pro Max were the second and third highest-selling phones of the year.
In fact, the iPhone 14 Plus is the only phone of the iPhone 14 series to not make it to the top ten — the iPhone 14 Pro Max is at number 3, the iPhone 14 at number 7 and the iPhone 14 Pro at number 8.
High-End Androids Go Missing
They might have been grabbing headlines and getting rave reviews but Android flagships seem to have totally lost out to the iPhone in the premium segment.
We have not seen a premium Android device in the top ten list of phones for a few years now and 2022 was no different — the only two Android devices in the list both started at prices below Rs 15,000. The likes of the high-profile Galaxy S22 series, the much-hyped foldables, and even the relatively more affordable flagships from OnePlus, Xiaomi, and Realme did not make the list, and neither did premium offerings from Oppo, Motorola and Vivo. None of the Pixels, past and present, across different price points made the list either.
Android needs to up its premium game in 2023.
Released In 2020, And Still There On Top Ten
The “senior citizen” in the top ten best-selling smartphone list in 2022 was the iPhone 12. Released in 2020, the iPhone 12 was the highest-selling phone of 2021, and ended 2022 as the sixth highest-selling smartphone of the year, selling more units than the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro.
The key factors for the success of this veteran were its still-sleek design, support for 5G and a number of price cuts and bargain offers.