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Galaxy S9 Plus was top Android phone in May, but Xiaomi, HUAWEI loom large

HUAWEI and Xiaomi both saw solid growth, while Samsung's European sales were a little weaker...

Published onJuly 6, 2018

The Galaxy S9 Plus.
  • Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus was the top-selling Android phone in May 2018, according to Counterpoint Research.
  • The Galaxy S9 was in the sixth spot, behind Xiaomi’s Redmi 5A and the latest iPhones.
  • Huawei’s P20 Lite was the only HUAWEI phone to make the list.

Samsung has reportedly seen lower than expected sales for the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, but you wouldn’t think so when looking at the latest sales statistics. Counterpoint Research has released its list of the best selling smartphones for May 2018, with the S9 Plus and standard S9 taking second and sixth spots respectively.

The number one spot was held by the iPhone 8, while number three and five were held by the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus respectively. Counterpoint attributed Apple’s performance to strong promotions in Europe in the run-up to the World Cup, and “steady” post-paid sales in the U.S.

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While Apple regained the top spot, the Galaxy S9 Plus was the most popular Android smartphone on the list. Nevertheless, Counterpoint said Galaxy S9 sales in Europe were “slightly weak” compared to the previous month. Counterpoint senior analyst Pavel Naiya told Android Authority that a combination of factors were to blame for Samsung’s performance, namely Apple’s aggressive campaigns, the OnePlus 6 launch, and the HUAWEI P20/HONOR 10 releases.

Despite the weaker sales in Europe, Naiya says the S9 series is actually doing a little better in general than the Galaxy S8. “If we compared sell-through performance of the first three months after the launch, the S9 series did slightly better (+two percent) globally compared to its previous generation,” the analyst explained.

Counterpoint Research's top ten list for May 2018

The P20 Lite was the only HUAWEI phone to crack the top ten, but Counterpoint said the brand saw growth in China and India. In fact, Counterpoint said the P20 family was among the top sellers in general, grabbing 2.6 percent market share in total.

It’s also worth noting that HUAWEI’s phones aren’t available via U.S. networks, limiting their affordability and reach compared to Samsung’s devices. It makes you wonder what could’ve been, doesn’t it?

Xiaomi makes waves this month

The Redmi 5A.
The Xiaomi Redmi 5A.

Xiaomi is another brand continuing to make waves, according to Counterpoint. The low-end Redmi 5A was the second-most popular Android phone at number four, ahead of the iPhone 8 Plus and vanilla Galaxy S9. It wasn’t the only Xiaomi phone in the top ten, as the Redmi 5 Plus/Note 5 claimed the ninth spot.

The tracking firm cited China and India for Xiaomi’s continued growth, noting that its offline operations were expanding in India. The Chinese brand was also the online sales leader in India, according to Counterpoint data.

The ball is in Xiaomi’s court for now, as it expands to a variety of European markets. The company has recently launched in Spain, Italy, and France, while announcing plans to land in the U.K., Denmark and several other European nations. In fact, Canalys’s Q1 2018 report for Europe noted that Xiaomi was the number four brand on the continent.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5.

Naiya cautions that Xiaomi is growing from a small base, but expects the company to be a major player in Europe. “Total sell-through volume for Xiaomi is still low in Europe, but it is starting to make its presence felt and we expect it to rapidly become a significant force as it spreads its wings over more and more countries in the region,” the analyst said.

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The vivo X21 and OPPO A83 were the two other phones in the top ten. In vivo’s case, Counterpoint cited the X21’s under-display fingerprint scanner and associated ads in driving sales, while price cuts helped the A83 stand out.

We don’t see any HMD/Nokia phones on the list, but the senior analyst says it’s another brand that could pressure Samsung. “Like Xiaomi it is starting from a low base. Unlike Xiaomi, it has a rich brand heritage that is resonating well with European consumers.”

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