Samsung led the premium smartphone segment in India in 2018 with a 34% share, followed closely by OnePlus at 33% which was the best-selling device of the year, Counterpoint Research said on Wednesday.

At third position, Apple had 23% market share as the overall premium smartphone segment grew by 8% (year-on-year) for the full year and 16% (YoY) for Q4 2018.

OnePlus recorded its highest-ever shipments in a single quarter (Q4), capturing 36% market share to lead the premium smartphone segment for three successive quarters.

"OnePlus 6 was the best selling premium model throughout 2018 in terms of shipment as well as in retail value. OnePlus 6T was positioned at second place followed by Samsung S9 Plus," said Karn Chauhan, Research Analyst at Counterpoint.

According to Vikas Agarwal, General Manager, OnePlus India, it has emerged as the best-selling premium smartphone brand owing to the focus on sharing the best technology with its consumers.

"Last year, we expanded in the offline segment through our 'Experience Stores' and through partners such as Croma and Reliance Digital in order to create more touch points for customers to engage with the brand," Agarwal told IANS.

Samsung captured 26% share of the premium segment and its shipments grew 72% (YoY) in Q4 2018.

"The newly-launched Galaxy A9 — the world's first quad rear camera phone, in 30,000-40,000 price segment attributed towards Samsung's growth, which is in direct competition with OnePlus," said the report.

Apple's premium segment shipments declined 25% (YoY) in Q4 2018 mainly due to extreme high premium-commanding pricing for iPhones as Apple continues to choose to pay 20% import duty on new imported iPhones instead of manufacturing in India.

"As a result, we believe Apple to start manufacturing locally for latest iPhones in 2019 and beyond to potentially lower the current higher iPhone pricing," said Chauhan.

The top three brands — OnePlus, Samsung and Apple — contributed to 92% of the overall premium market in Q4 2018.

Close