The launch of Samsung's flagship S23 smartphone lineup is expected to fit well with the "premiumisation" trend seen across the global smartphone markets while receiving a boost from financing and trade-in programmes, according to industry analysts.
Samsung Electronics unveiled its flagship S23 smartphone series in San Francisco on Wednesday, comprising the Galaxy S23 and two higher-specification versions -- S23 Plus and S23 Ultra.
The series uses Qualcomm Inc's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile processor while the S23 Ultra model uses powerful a 200-megapixel camara sensor, which Samsung says can capture key moments with sharp precision.
The Galaxy S23, S23 Plus and S23 Ultra have starting prices of 30,900 baht, 37,900 baht and 43,900 baht, respectively.
"The entire Galaxy S23 series is a new standard-bearer of trustworthy premium smartphone experiences," said TM Roh, president and head of mobile experience business at Samsung Electronics.
"We're on a mission to redefine peak performance by bringing together powerful, lasting innovations and sustainability".
Glen Cardoza, senior analyst at market research firm Counterpoint, told the Bangkok Post that Samsung is already one of the top three smartphone brands in Thailand, where an active growth in high-end smartphone shipments was seen in 2022.
Last year high-end smartphone buyers in Thailand were relatively unaffected by a subdued macroeconomy with demand increasing, he said.
There was a 53% growth in Samsung Galaxy S series shipment volumes in 2022 compared to 2021. "This means that the S22 series sold much more than the S21 series. Also, we saw more shipments of the Ultra variant in 2022," Mr Cardoza said.
"It is likely that as the economic situation gets better in Thailand, the S23 series will sell well this year. Samsung has a good tie-up with operators, retailers and e-commerce players alike and so consumers will get further motivation to buy this series," he said.
Even if Samsung chooses to reduce overall shipments in 2023, the premium shipments are likely to be less affected compared to low and mid-range smartphones. "Samsung's overall market share might be affected due to shipments, but the premium share is likely to do well," Mr Cardoza said.
He said a lag in macro-level factors may hinder smartphone growth in Thailand this year.
"At least the first half of 2023 is likely to see little to no growth but the second half has a good chance to make use of pent-up demand, a resurgence of low range smartphone buyers and an overall improved ecosystem in the country," he added.
Tarun Pathak, research director of Counterpoint, said the world is seeing a "premiumisation" trend where the share of the premium segment is rising as the overall smartphone market declines.
This stems from a combination of multiple factors -- 5G, more choices from competitors, form factors, trade-ins and financing, he noted.
"Samsung Finance has given Samsung a competitive edge and will further add more users to the segment. Moreover, many of those who trade-in and especially loyal Note device upgraders who didn't jump on to the S22 Ultra are likely to trade up," he said.
Kiranjeet Kaur, associate research director for mobile phone research at IDC, said Thailand’s smartphone market is expected to see a flat growth or at best a low single-digit growth in 2023 due to the easing of demand and a decline in government’s assistance programmes.
However, the premium smartphone segment is more resilient than the entry-level segment, both in supply and demand perspectives.
“This augurs well for players like Samsung and Apple, and even more that many consumers are opting for the highest variant in the flagship than the base models,” said Ms Kaur.
Most users upgrade their phones between two and four years and the improvement in camera, battery and performance in S23 series is expected to stimulate users to upgrade their phones.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note series was one of their most popular premium offerings, and Galaxy S Ultra has successfully filled that void, she said.
“In terms of overall unit market share, I would say it is more defined by Samsung’s Galaxy A series against the Chinese players,” said Ms Kaur.