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iPhone is the only reason the US smartphone market has recovered

iPhone 15 Pro colorful lineup

Overall, sales of smartphones in the US grew 8% year over year in 2023, driven by a "very robust" showing for Apple's iPhone.

Just as with the latest global smartphone figures, a new report says that premium phones such as Apple's have done better than lower-cost devices.

According to Counterpoint Research in a note seen by AppleInsider, Apple's sell-in share rose to 64% in Q4 2023. That's the company's highest market share since Q4 2020.

That drove the overall smartphone shipments to a rise of 8% YoY, and Counterpoint ascribes both that and the iPhone's increase to Apple recovering from the disruptions following the previous year's COVID-induced factory shutdowns.

"Q4 is usually very robust for Apple given the strong demand for iPhones during the holiday sales," said Jeff Fieldhack, Counterpoint's research director for North America. "Throughout 2023, Apple made inroads in prepaid with its N-2 or N-3 devices, selling the iPhone 12 or iPhone 11 at very reduced prices, which also helped it grow its market share in this segment."

Bar chart showing US smartphone market share by OEM with an Apple logo leading, followed by Samsung, Motorola, Google, TCL, and others.
Apple tops the sales of US smartphones

Android sales declined overall as Counterpoint says that the sub-$300 market "saw the largest declines."

"The outlook for 2024 will largely depend on the US economy," wrote Counterpoint's associate director Hanish Bhatia. "It is an election year, which generally means improvements in various economic parameters."

"Therefore, demand is expected to pick up across all price segments, leading to modest growth throughout the year," continued Bhatia. "MVNOs [Mobile Virtual Network Operators] like Google Fi, which have increased their presence in national retail channels, will continue to bring competition to prepaid."

"With the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) funding likely ending or being reduced soon," said Bhatia, "this will be another driver for the low-end market."

Counterpoint also predicts that the premium smartphone market will continue to grow in 2024 because of generative AI features. Separately, it's been reported that Apple is planning to introduce more AI into iOS 18 for the forthcoming iPhone 16 range.