Apple, which posted earnings for its fiscal first quarter of 2015 on Tuesday, tied with Samsung to become the world’s largest smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter of 2014, ending in December, according to the latest figures released by Strategy Analytics on Wednesday.

Both companies shipped 74.5 million smartphones while accounting for 19.6 percent market share each during the three-month period, Strategy Analytics said in a report, adding that Apple tied with Samsung for the top spot in the worldwide smartphone market for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2011.

Apple’s market share increased from 18 percent in the same period a year earlier, thanks to the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus that proved to be widely popular in the United States, Europe and China. Meanwhile, Samsung’s market share dipped from 30 percent during the same period last year.

The launch of the iPhone 6 models helped Apple strike Samsung in an area the South Korean firm pioneered by introducing smartphones with larger screens. The new bigger iPhones proved to be so popular in China that their sales led the Cupertino technology giant take the first place in the Chinese smartphone market for the first time in Q4, according to market research firm Canalys.

Apple-Samsung-smartphoneshare1 Smartphone shipments in Q4 2014. Photo: Strategy Analytics

Apple-Samsung-smartphoneshare2 Smartphone market share in Q4 2014. Photo: Strategy Analytics

Apple claimed that its net income surged by 38 percent for the December quarter compared to the year-ago period, while Samsung reported Wednesday that its earnings slumped 27 percent during the same period.

According to Strategy Analytics, after Lenovo merged with Motorola, the combined entity took the third spot in Q4, capturing 6.5 percent of the global smartphone market share, followed by Huawei, which claimed 6.3 percent of the market share.

Overall, the worldwide shipments of smartphones grew 31 percent annually from 290.2 million units in the fourth quarter of 2013 to a record 380.1 million in the same period in 2014. A total of 1.3 billion smartphones were shipped worldwide in 2014, with strong growth observed in emerging markets, such as China, India and Africa, Strategy Analytics said.