Samsung said 60% of pre-orders for the Galaxy S23 smartphone series were for the S23 Ultra, the most expensive device in the range. Samsung is looking for double-digit growth for its premium, more expensive smartphones by 2023.

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BARCELONA, Spain — Sale of Samsung’s The Galaxy S23 flagship smartphone has outperformed last year’s S22 in a comparison period with the majority of buyers opting for the most expensive version of the device, an executive at the South Korean tech giant told CNBC.

Samsung launched the Galaxy S23 this month. The series has 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, the S23 sales are much better so far than the S22. The S23 went on sale on February 17.

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

“So we are in the premium segment, despite the difficult economic environment, we see a steady opportunity for us. And the reason is that 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 around 60% of global S23 pre-orders.

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

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

Operating profit in the company’s mobile and network operations fell by 16% on an annual basis in 2022.

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

That’s where Samsung hopes 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 cautious” in the premium segment of the smartphone market, there are still many people “who want the best of the best.”

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