Samsung hasn’t yet started shipping out the first of its flagship phones for 2017, and the numbers are already looking impressive. Publishing actual figures, Samsung is highlighting the fact that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are already being pre-ordered at a much faster rate that their predecessors, Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge.

Although the South Korean company hasn’t revealed global pre-order figures, “strong double-digit growth” is a good enough indication that Samsung’s mobile unit is off to a roaring start in 2017. In South Korea, pre-orders have now hit 728,000 units. A few days ago that number was 620,000, implying a daily average of 50,000 units for that one market alone.

Of note is the fact that the earlier figure of 620,000 included 150,000 high-end Galaxy S8+ variant (128GB) that is retailing for over $1,000. That’s encouraging for Samsung, because it indicates that nearly 25 percent of early buyers are opting for the most expensive model.

That also bodes well for Apple’s iPhone 8 (iPhone Edition) that’s coming out in September, because there are already strong rumors about the device being in that ultra-premium $1,000+ price band.

But early sales are only one indicator of overall sales performance – albeit a good one. Sustained sales is what Samsung needs to focus on. With the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, Samsung pushed two new colors during the holiday season, presumably to try and offset losses from the Note 7. That strategy with the Glossy Black and Blue Coral Galaxy S7 seems to have worked, and contributed, in part, to Samsung coming in with a strong Q1 2017 that pushed them above Apple in terms of marketshare for the March quarter.

Pre-order figures for the US are still being kept under wraps for obvious reasons, but Samsung is also focusing on China in a big way. Dong-jin Koh, head of Samsung’s mobile business, in his meeting with Korean reporters where pre-order numbers were shared, also said this:

“China is the market we can never give up. Although we have had a hard time over the past two years in the market, we believe Chinese consumers will react to and recognize good products.”

Numbers from China weren’t revealed, but this is what happened with the Galaxy S7 lineup in China last year, according to a Korea Times report after the devices launched:

“In China, Samsung broke the “10 million mark” in preorder sales for the devices since March 11 with, one of China’s top online shopping malls, and Suning, a major electronics retailer, receiving about 6.4 million and 1.4 million preorders on the two.

Since last year, Samsung Electronics has been refusing to provide sales figures of its flagship Galaxy devices.

But in rare remarks, its mobile chief Ko Dong-jin told local reporters, “I’ve gained confidence to do well after checking responses from major retailers and holding meetings with carriers in China.”

They’re continuing to pin their hopes in the Chinese market, where data from IDC shows that 467.3 million smartphones were shipped. Of that figure, Apple’s share came in at slightly under 10 percent.

China smartphone shipments 2016 IDC

Apple’s near-10-percent marketshare in China last year implies that there’s significant scope for a premium device in China. Samsung did not make it to the Top 5, however, which is why 2017 is a critical year for Samsung in China. The 8.7 percent year-over-year growth in that market is an encouraging figure as well, and could work in Samsung’s favor this year if it holds.

As such, China is much more of a crucial market for Samsung in 2017 than ever before. If they can crash through that glass ceiling, it will help boost their global numbers in what is going to be a tough sales year for premium smartphones.

Shipments for pre-ordered Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are expected to start on April 21, but orders with T-Mobile could be shipped earlier.

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