Historically speaking, Google’s smartphones have never been all that popular. The Google Pixel (and its predecessor, the Nexus) have always been described as “enthusiast” phones—they enjoy plenty of critical acclaim, but they hardly make a dent in the larger smartphone market. Now, the tides are beginning to change. Google Pixel is currently the number three Android brand in North America, and oddly, it’s the best-selling Android brand in Japan.
According to GolbalStats vendor data from July of 2023, Google Pixel now occupies 2.46% of the North American smartphone market. It’s the third-largest Android brand in North America, bested only by Samsung (54.22%) and Motorola (4.82%). This is due to a massive 20% year-over-year growth, according to Canalys data from Q1 2023.
The same Canalys data shows that Motorola declined by 40% from 2022, while Samsung slipped back 25%. If the trend continues, Google Pixel and Motorola will be head-to-head in 2024, at least in the United States and Canada.
More impressively, Counterpoint Research shows that Google Pixel is now the biggest Android brand in Japan, beating out local manufacturers like Sony and Sharp. It holds about 9% of the Japanese smartphone market share, a huge leap from the 2% market share it held in Q1 of 2022. Additionally, about 34% of all Pixel phones are now sold in Japan, while only 31% are sold in the United States.
Several factors contributed to the Pixel’s newfound popularity. But it mostly comes down to Google, which finally stepped up to the plate during the Pixel 6 launch. Not only did the Pixel 6 introduce a unique new design, but it was accompanied by an aggressive advertising campaign and an excellent mid-tier price. This strategy continued with the Pixel 7, a phone that has outsold all previous Google handsets.
Of course, the Pixel 6 came at a very opportune time. It launched in late 2021, just months after LG (once the third-biggest Android brand) gave up on phones. Several Chinese brands, including Xiaomi, also vanished from the North American market due to sanctions. Google managed to fill this gap with its mid-tier devices.
The Google Pixel isn’t an “enthusiast” phone anymore, but it’s still one of the best Android smartphones that money can buy. It’s far less expensive than Apple and Samsung’s flagship devices, it has excellent cameras, and it comes with a suite of AI-powered exclusive features. If you haven’t already, check out our Pixel 7 review and prepare to be impressed.