Samsung says S23 smartphone sales ahead of S22 with most people buying the priciest ‘Ultra’ model

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Samsung said that 60% of the pre-orders for the Galaxy S23 smartphone series were for the S23 Ultra, the most expensive device in the lineup. Samsung is looking for double digit growth for its premium, higher priced smartphones in 2023.
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BARCELONA, Spain — Sales of Samsung’s Galaxy S23 flagship smartphone have outstripped last year’s S22 in a comparative period with the majority of buyers opting for the most expensive version of the device, an executive at the South Korean technology giant told CNBC.

Samsung launched the Galaxy S23 this month. The series features three models: the standard S23, a slightly more expensive S23+ and the top-of-the-line S23 Ultra. The S23 Ultra starts at $1,200.

Patrick Chomet, executive vice president at Samsung Electronics, told CNBC in an interview that compared to last year, S23 sales are much better so far than the S22. The S23 went on sale on Feb. 17.

Chomet added that Samsung has committed to “double-digit growth” in the premium segment of its smartphones in 2023, which includes the Galaxy S23 series but also its latest foldable phones which were launched last year.

“So we are on the premium segment, despite the difficult economic environment, we see a steady opportunity for us. And the reason is we are very competitive, because we have brought a lot of innovation in that segment,” Chomet said in an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.

Chomet revealed that the most expensive version of the flagship phones — the S23 Ultra — accounted for about 60% of global S23 pre-orders.

“We expect, kind of, a healthy portion of the mix, to be skewed to toward the premium,” Chomet said.

The initial sales of the S23 will be welcome news for Samsung which had a tough year in the smartphone market in 2022. Overall smartphone shipments last year recorded their worst year since 2013, according to research firm IDC. Samsung shipments fell more than 15%, IDC said. The slump was due to inflation and a worsening outlook for the economy.

Operating profit in the company’s mobile and networks business fell 16% year-on-year in 2022.

But there is still demand for expensive smartphones. High-end smartphones, those that cost over $800, accounted for 18% of the total handset market in 2022, up from 11% in 2020, Canalys data shows.

That’s where Samsung is hoping to grow its smartphone business which would offer the company potentially higher margins and better profits.

Chomet said the higher percentage of S23 Ultra pre-orders is an “indication that even though people are more careful” in the premium segment of the smartphone market there are still a lot of people “who want the best of the best.”