Apple's iPhone 5 overtakes Samsung as best-selling smartphone in Q4 2012

Apple's iPhone 5 overtakes Samsung as best-selling smartphone in Q4 2012

Summary: Apple took Samsung to task in Q4 through its iPhone 5 sales in Q4 2012, according to Strategy Analytics.

Credit: James Martin/CNET News

The iPhone 5 has tipped the scales in Apple's favor by beating Samsung's Galaxy S3 to become the world's best-selling smartphone model for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2012.

According to data from market research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics, the shift in smartphone popularity is related to the "rich touchscreen, extensive distribution and generous operator subsidies" offered by Apple's latest shiny offering.

The firm says that Apple's iPhone 5 smartphone was shipped to the tune of approximately 27.4 million units worldwide in Q4 2012, rising from 6 million in the third quarter. Overall, the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S accounted for one in five smartphone shipments, and the iPhone 5 alone managed to secure 13 percent of the market.

In comparison, Samsung's Galaxy S III shipment rate fell from 18 million units to 15.4 million in the same time frame, securing an estimated 7 percent marketshare in the fourth quarter.

Overall global shipments of smartphones, in line with the expanding market for mobile technology, are estimated to have risen from 172.8 million units in Q3 2012 to 217 million units in the fourth quarter. 

apple iphone 5 overtakes samsung galaxy s3 research q4 2012 best selling smartphone

The iPhone 5's performance is described as "impressive" by the research firm, especially given Apple's "premium pricing." In addition, Strategy Analytics says that Samsung's Galaxy S III popularity appears to have reached its peak, although it remains popular with users across the U.S., Asia and Europe. Strategy Analytics believes that Samsung will be keen to introduce the rumored Galaxy S4 upgrade sooner rather than later to fight back against Apple's successful bid to secure additional marketshare.

There is a continual battle between the major players within the smartphone and tablet industry to entice additional customers to their brand and chosen operating system -- whether iOS, Android or Windows-based -- and due to this and the rapid product lifecycle, market share is constantly shifting. 

However, we do have to consider that these types of comparisons aren't necessarily fair, although they may give us a rough idea of current market trends. In Strategy Analytic's report, there is an absence of figures relating to Samsung's other devices, and the different launch dates of both Apple and Samsung products also can make direct comparisons unfair. The iPhone 5 was poised for holiday sales, whereas Samsung's Galaxy S III launched earlier in May 2012. 

In November, the Samsung Galaxy S III managed to oust the iPhone 4S as the world's best-selling smartphone, selling 18 million handsets in comparison to only 16.2 million Apple iPhone 4S shipments, giving Samsung a 10.7 marketshare, whereas Apple secured 9.7 percent. 

Topics: Apple, Android, Samsung, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • Apple's Seasonal Effect Again

    We saw a similar spike when the Iphone 4S came out a year ago. That tailed off after six months. Will this one last as long? Somehow I don't think so. Apple has been showing clear signs of rushing products to market in an effort to avoid becoming a seasonal seller, but shortening its own product cycles is also likely to drive buyers away.
    • The iPhone's spike is higher and Android's dip lower

      The real story was the implosion of Android sales and web use over the last 4 months; especially in the US. Driven by Apples's superior designs and higher quality, there is little reason this wont continue about 9 into the product cycle.
      • ROFLMAO!

        Apple speak. How about we've all bought our GSIII's already! The fanboys just keep buying to boost sales numbers. How could an inferior design win anything, but with false hype?
        • w o w !

          >>"The fanboys just keep buying to boost sales numbers."

      • Does it matter?

        The SIII is just one of the many Android phones on the market. The fact that Apple can't beat just one means that Google is still on top. That's all that really matters. Android offers choice, so of course not everyone is going to make the same choice.
        • still on top

          ((( "The SIII is just one of the many Android phones on the market. The fact that Apple can't beat just one means that Google is still on top." )))

          The S3 is the biggest-selling Samsung smartphone, and Samsung accounts for the lion's share of Android phones, so for Apple to beat the S3 with both the iPhone 5 as well as last year's model iPhone 4S is impressive.
    • Errr...

      4S is #2. So how does that figure into your theory?
  • Apple propaganda

    'the shift in smartphone popularity is related to the "rich touchscreen, extensive distribution and generous operator subsidies" offered by Apple's latest shiny offering'

    No, this is blatantly the temporary affect on sales of the fact that the S4 release is coming soon -- which is of course why it's the first quarter in which iPhone 5 has sold slightly more than the S3.
    Tim Acheson
    • Again...

      4S is #2. So how does that figure into your theory?
    • Slightly more??

      Yeah well, 27 percent versus 15 percent is hardly "slightly more." It's nearly double. Even the iPhone 4S pulled past the S3. When the S4 finally comes out, we'll see how it fares for those months before the iPhone 6 appears. I know at least two people who used to own lame duck (not upgradeable) A-phones that now own iPhones. Granted, the S3 is the best of the A-phones. I'm sure the S4 will be the best, as well. I just don't think it will make much difference in the long term. With the intro of the 5, iPhone sales are once again snowballing. We'll have to see how sales compare when the S4 and the 6 are out.

      As a side note, I find it hilarious that A-fans are lumping sales of 50+ different models of phone from a dozen manufacturers together just so they can say they're "beating" a single phone from Apple. Those 50 models are running a huge variety of fragmented OS versions and most can't be upgraded to the latest. A large chunk of them won't even run most of the applications in the A store. Android inherited the same ball and chain Linux always had - nightmarish levels of fragmentation. I'm frankly surprised it's doing as well as it is.
      • Any facts for those bold statements?

        Nope, thought not. So reports of slow iphone5 demand = snowballing. Partners reducing material requirement plans = snowballing? The fact that the iphone traditionally has sold double any other phone, now it's less, that's snowballing is it? So sales slowing down in Q1, that's snowballing is it? You need a dictionary.

        Please provide figures to show which android phones can't run which apps, figures now, not just your thoughts on on the subject.

        Huge variety of fragmented OS versions - please name them. While the rest of the world generally defines them as 4, you seem to know of many, many more versions. I'd like to know what they are if they are choices for me. Also, you'll find most android phones can be updated to the latest version if you wish to go down that route. Oh that's right, no point using facts.

        You see the real world doesn't support your view. You can't understand why android is so popular? That's because you have a stunted thought process and refuse to look beyond your nose. The majority of the world's smartphone users disagree with you, what does that say?TBH, it's pretty lame FUD but FUD it mostly definitely is.
        Little Old Man
        • that's pre and post 4 seeing as the spam filter doesn't like how I wrote it

          Little Old Man
  • Samsung is crushing Apple in this segment

    It seems odd that this article focuses entirely on the momentary anomaly of Q4 sales while conspicuously failing to put this into perspective by mentioning the overall market share picture.
    Tim Acheson
    • Crushing?

      Apple has grown their profit share of the industry to 70%. In what world is this "crushing"?
      • Higher Profit?

        In what world is the best offering for consumers the one with the highest markup (profit)?
      • Re: Apple has grown their profit share of the industry

        Apple's profit share is shrinking. That's why their share price is falling.
  • S III outsold iPhone 5 last year

    A year ago it would have been unthinkable that anything could outsell the new iPhone....well not anymore.

    Also what happened to Chitika numbers. These were important when in Apple's favor. Now they are not news?
    • Chitika shows more iPhone 5 phones than GSIII

      Even given the sales lead the GSIII had.
      • Not anymore.

        Check February. Apple overall on the decline as well as iPhone 5.
  • So, just so I understand.

    Apple outselling Samsung is a seasonal spike, but Samsung outselling Apple is a steady trend. You guys must work for the IPCC.