​Samsung wrestles smartphone lead back from Apple

Samsung is shipping fewer smartphones than it was a year ago, but enough to reclaim its throne from Apple.

Samsung has reclaimed its smartphone lead over Apple, after earlier tying with the company for pole position.

According to Strategy Analytics, for the first quarter of this year Samsung is once again the top smartphone vendor. It shipped an estimated 83.2 million units, and owned a 24.1 percent share of the market. Apple meanwhile shipped 61.2 million units, earning a 17.7 percent share.

While Samsung's share is still well down on the 31.2 percent it held a year ago, the company nonetheless reclaimed its edge over Apple after the two companies both notched up a 19 percent share for the last quarter of 2014.

Worldwide, 345 million smartphones were shipped during the first quarter, up 21 percent on the 285 million that shipped a year ago. Strategy Analytics noted that smartphone growth had slowed by 33 percent compared to a year ago, largely due to higher penetration rates in the US, Europe, and China.

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Despite losing the top spot to Samsung, Apple defied the slowdown, growing its shipments by 40 percent from the 43.7 million units it shipped a year ago.

"Samsung continued to face challenges in Asia and elsewhere, but its global performance has stabilized sufficiently well this quarter to overtake Apple and recapture first position as the world's largest smartphone vendor by volume," Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said.

"Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models remain wildly popular in China and worldwide, as consumers upgrade to larger-screen phablets for enhanced data experiences," he added.

Meanwhile, third-placed Lenovo shipped 18.8 million units, capturing 5.4 percent of the market, down from seven percent a year ago, and Huawei grew shipped 17.3 million units to take fourth spot with a five percent share.

While Samsung doesn't release figures for smartphone shipments, yesterday it said that 80 percent of the 99 million mobile phones it shipped during the quarter were smartphones. Despite a fall in the company's mobile profits for the first quarter, Samsung said it was confident the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will outperform the Galaxy S5.

"Samsung continues to face tough competition from Apple, but recent strong demand for its new Galaxy S6 devices indicates Samsung could deliver an improved performance in the coming second quarter of this year," Strategy Analytic's Mawston said.

Apple this week reported fiscal second-quarter profit of $13.6bn, beating analyst expectations that it would ship 55.7 million iPhones.

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