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Apple Watch dominates the premium market, outpacing Samsung with its best third-quarter performance yet.

Significant activity took place in the global smartwatch market during the third quarter according to Counterpoint Research. Shipments increased 9% year-over-year during the third quarter. Helping drive the growth in the overall market were strong performances in India and Huawei’s big rebound in China. Counterpoint also took a deep dive into the premium smartwatch market also known as High-level Operating System (HLOS) smartwatches. These devices support the use of third-party apps.

Leading the way in the premium segment of the smartwatch market during Q3 was the Apple Watch, the most popular watch in the world. The device had its best third quarter ever with an annual gain in shipments of 7%, Also performing well was the second-generation variant of the budget-priced Apple Watch SE. During the quarter, Apple increased its lead over second-place Samsung. Apple finished the quarter with a commanding 45% slice of the global premium smartwatch pie which was unchanged from the same quarter last year. Samsung, on the other hand, saw its share decline 6 basis points to 18% from 24% in Q3 2022. Samsung’s shipments declined 19% year-over-year although the latest Galaxy Watch 6 and Galaxy Watch 6 Classic saw third-quarter shipments decline only 3% on an annual basis.

While lower shipments of legacy Galaxy Watch models were the main problem with Samsung’s numbers, it did see the Average Selling Price (ASP) for its timepieces rise as the more expensive Galaxy Watch 6 Classic had a higher proportion of sales than the pricier Galaxy Watch 5 Pro tallied during the same quarter last year. Just a few percentage points behind Samsung with 14% of the global premium smartwatch market was Huawei with a 14% share. Huawei’s share in Q3 last year was less than 7% and the rebound was driven by a 56% year-over-year gain in overall smartwatch deliveries and a 122% gain in shipments of its premium HLOS timepieces. The Huawei Watch 4 and Watch 4 Pro series, all released during the second quarter of this year, achieved a high level of popularity in China as did the Watch GT 4 which was released in Q3 of this year.

Part of the reason for the strong performance by Huawei was the surprise introduction of the Mate 60 Pro series powered by its own 7nm Kirin 9000s 5G chips. The announcement of these phones brought on a wave of nationalism in China because of U.S. sanctions that attempted to keep Huawei devices from accessing 5G signals. With the strong demand for the Mate 60 line, the phones were bundled with the watches by some retailers and e-commerce platforms in China. Counterpoint Research Analyst Woojin Son said, “There is significant value in examining the growth drivers of the global smartwatch market in Q3 2023. Amid a global economic slowdown, most consumer device markets like smartphones are still experiencing stagnation compared to a year ago. In contrast, the smartwatch market has recorded YoY growth for two consecutive quarters in both premium and budget segments.”

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