With mid-range smartphones becoming increasingly more powerful and feature-packed, the industry is seeing a significant growth in the popularity of such devices around the world. That's according to the findings of market research and analysis agency, Counterpoint Research. While a number of startups have mushroomed over the years to take advantage of the booming smartphone market, most of them have had to fight for the mid and entry-level segments because of the iron grip that Samsung and Apple have at the premium end of the market. With competition getting stiffer seemingly by the day, these companies have had to innovate to bring better hardware and compelling software at affordable prices, so as to carve out a niche for themselves in the industry.
While that sort of stifling competition – especially in markets like Asia, where unlocked smartphones are the norm for the most part – has eroded the margins for established players like Samsung, LG and HTC, it has also meant that these companies have almost been wiped clean off the mid and entry-level segments in countries like China, thanks to the availability of value-for-money devices from companies like Huawei, Xiaomi, Meizu, LeEco and other home-grown companies. People looking for premium devices, too, have a wide array of choices for them, with startups like OnePlus offering premium smartphones at around half the cost of flagships from Samsung and Apple.
With carriers starting to do away with device subsidies, unlocked handsets are also becoming more common in developed markets than they've ever been before. Demand for sensibly-priced handsets have been on the rise in recent times as much in emerging markets as in North America and Western Europe. That being the case, sub-$300 smartphones now reportedly make up around 54% of Samsung's product portfolio, even though the segment only accounted for just 40% of all Samsung handsets back in 2014. In case of LG Electronics, the numbers are even more glaring, with as much as 65% of the company's products apparently priced below the $300 threshold.
However, it's not just the mid-range that's getting more attention from Samsung either. Even sub-$200 devices, like some of the entry-level Galaxy J-series handsets, are apparently making up a significantly larger share of Samsung's smartphone portfolio this year. While just 10% of all Samsung Smartphones came at that price-point back in 2014, the number has risen sharply to 40% this year. With pocket-friendly devices being the name of the game, even Apple introduced the controversial iPhone 5C a couple of years back. Even though the line has since been discontinued, the company continues to explore this fast-growing segment of the market with devices like the iPhone SE, which is priced significantly lower than the regular iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.