Samsung Galaxy S III ousts iPhone 4S as best-selling smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S III ousts iPhone 4S as best-selling smartphone

Summary: The smartphone market is a two-horse race, and a new report released today suggests the Galaxy S III ousted the iPhone 4S from the top spot in the third quarter.


Apple and Samsung aren't just locked in a legal battle, the two companies are fighting for dominance in the smartphone market too, and underdog Samsung has just scored a big win against the Cupertino juggernaut.

According to a new report released by market research firm Strategy Analytics, Samsung sold 18 million Galaxy S III handsets during the third quarter, compared to only 16.2 million for Apple's iPhone 4S.

Translated into percentages, this gives the Samsung Galaxy S III a 10.7 percent market share, compared to 9.7 percent for the iPhone 4S.

During the same period, the research firm reports that Apple sold 6 million iPhone 5 handsets, giving it an immediate 3.7 percent of the smartphone market.

Taking a look at the big picture, there are several factors at play here.

First, sales of the Samsung Galaxy S III have been strong, hitting 20 million in 100 days, and then 30 million in less than six months. No matter how you cut it, these are strong sales figures. 

The Galaxy S III is also getting a lot of attention from enterprise and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) crowd. The handset has a number of enterprise-friendly features, including AuthenTec's QuickSec VPN client technology that allows users to access corporate networks when out and about.

It's easy to think that it is the consumer vote that makes or breaks a smartphone. That's not true. Enterprise users also play a significant factor, and the right set of business-centric features can shift the balance. 

See also: Five Android alternatives to the iPhone 5

The Galaxy S III also saw a broad release, available on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular. This made it available to as broad an audience as possible. Availability matters, whereas Apple pitches its products to only suitable carriers. 


Another factor to consider here is the chilling effect on overall iPhone sales that chatter about the iPhone 5 had.

While Apple is smart enough not to announce a new handset until the last minute, there had been enough talk about the iPhone 5 in the media to put some people off from buying until the new handset made an appearance.

It'll be interesting to see if the Galaxy S III can maintain the top spot in the next quarter in the face of the iPhone 5, particularly with the December holiday season on the horizon.

Image credit: CNET.

Topics: Smartphones, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Samsung

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  • Confused

    @Adrian so is it 18 or 20 million units?? Your numbers change in two different paragraphs.
    • What is a couple of million phones among friends

      Now Samsung needs to get its act together in the tablet market, but with almost zero margin players like B&N, Amazon and Google, that is a LOT tougher proposition.

      Apple must be starting to sweat bullets, patenting rectangles and all.
      • or not.

        maybe they don't need to get into the tablet market.
        • The already are in

          Where have you been?
      • Zero margin on handheld, big margin on component

        Zero margin on handheld, big margin on component.
        Everytime B&N, Amazon or Google even Apple sell their unit, some of them goes to Samsung profit.
    • reading is fundamental

      20 million in first 100 days. 30 million in less than 6 months. 18 million in 3rd quarter of 2012. 3 time periods, 3 sales figures.
    • So did the amount of time.

      Learn to read, kid.
  • Remember the days when

    Apple fanatics would say: "Name one Android phone that can compete with iPhone sales?"

    Well, here it is.

    Apple needs to wake up and not repeat the mistakes of the 90's. Yes, they made a good product in 2007 and 2008. The problem is they haven't done anything innovative since then. Not enough to push technology forward.
    • I'm both impressed and concerned at the same time

      Yeah the sales on the Galaxy S3 are great (the impressed part) but this shows that either 1) Samsung has increased the quality of their mobile products since that craptastic Galaxy S I used to own or 2) People are happy with buying craptastic devices (the concerned part). IF the devices are decently built then Apple, WP OEMs, and the rest of the Android OEMs have a problem on their hands - one I hope they solve. If people are content with craptastic devices then Apple and the OEMs mentioned above will be in a race to the bottom... or more likely the OEMs will be in that race while Apple goes along the same path they are now.
      • SGS3 ruled just in Q3; iPhone 5 is going to be by far #1 in Q4

        Apple expects sale of over 40 million iPhones.
        • Hahahahahaha

          Android is expected to be on more than 100 Million devices during that time frame! SGS 3 is also in that upgrade cycle but will slowdown not because of the iPhone 5 but because of the Galaxy Note.
        • yep...

          but only if they can deliver the iPhone 5 to market. In the meantime people are buying the SIII and NoteII.
          Last time I was in Hong Kong it was clear from my unscientific sample on the MTR (subway) that Samsung was well ahead of iPhone...3,4 or 5
        • not according to the Apple stocks

          they are going down quite dramatically
        • Re: Apple expects sale of over 40 million iPhones.

          That's less than 30 days' worth of Android sales.
      • Samsung products are getting better

        It isn't the opposite, since there are plenty of great choices for smartphones out there.
        Michael Alan Goff
  • good news

    oh happy day
  • Great job Samsung !

    One of the best phones in the market for sure, probably the best one in Android !
  • Targeting the Blackberry Market?

    Samsung appears to have a good replacemnt for the dying Blackberry market here. Perhaps they should acquire blackberry then Apple would be in trouble.
  • Yeah but!

    We are being told that Apple hasn't slipped at all! Guess what? The Party's Over Apple!
    • Maybe they haven't

      In a rapidly growing market such as smartphone, particularly with a few fresh corpses to pick over (RIM, WinMo, SymbianOS), it's quite possible for someone like Samsung, given the explosion of Android, to zoom past Apple's top seller without Apple needing to slip.

      For now... there isn't all that much share left to eat, so expansion will increasingly come from new smartphone users, or each other... and now with Microsoft getting serious, with potentially competitive products.