iPhone 5 Sales in Q4 Reinstated Apple as Top Smartphone Maker

By Michelle Maisto

The Apple iPhone 5 became the world's best-selling smartphone worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2012—a distinction that Samsung's Galaxy S III held during the third quarter. Apple not only outsold Samsung's most popular Galaxy device with the iPhone 5, but it did it with the iPhone 4S, as well, research firm Strategy Analytics reported Feb. 20.

Apple shipped 27.4 million iPhone 5 smartphones during the quarter and 17.4 million iPhone 4S models, compared with Samsung's 15.4 million Galaxy S III devices, according to Strategy Analytics.

The iPhone 5 garnered 13 percent of the global smartphone market, and the iPhone 4S had 8 percent of the market. Together, the iPhones accounted for one in five of the smartphones that shipped worldwide during the quarter, Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics' executive director, said in a blog post

"A rich touch-screen design, extensive distribution across dozens of countries and generous operator subsidies have been among the main causes of the iPhone 5's success," wrote Mawston. He added that, given the iPhone portfolio's "premium pricing," Apple's was "an impressive performance."

Samsung introduced the S III in May 2012, and during the third quarter it became the top-selling smartphone, knocking Apple from a position it had held for more than two years. At the time, Strategy Analytics estimated that Samsung had sold 18 million Galaxy S III smartphones to Apple's 16.2 million iPhone 4S devices and 6 million units of the recently introduced iPhone 5, but also that Samsung's victory was likely to be "short-lived."

The prediction proved accurate.

"Samsung's Galaxy S3 has long proven wildly popular with consumers and operators across North America, Europe and Asia," Mawston blogged Feb. 20. "However, global demand for the Galaxy S3 appears to have peaked, and Samsung will surely be keen to introduce its rumored Galaxy S4 upgrade in the coming weeks to fight back against Apple's popular iPhone range."

Samsung has tried to keep its production information and launch dates as closely guarded as Apple does; the Galaxy S III's launch was its most security-surrounded launch at the time. But while the Korean manufacturer has repeatedly denied rumors that it will launch the S IV in March, that hasn't stopped consumers from marking their calendars for next month.

The Verge reported Feb. 18 that according to sources, Samsung will "definitely" launch the Galaxy S IV March 14.

The company will "once again emphasize features over raw specs," the tech site reported and, according to its sources, the leap in cool new features between the S III and the S IV "will be bigger" than the leap was between the S II and the SIII.

According to Strategy Analytics, the total number of smartphones that shipped during the third quarter was larger than the total during the Samsung-dominated third quarter—217 million smartphones, versus 173 million, respectively. However, third-quarter smartphone shipments outpaced the approximately 153 million phones that shipped during the iPhone 4S-dominated second quarter.

This article was originally published on 2013-02-20