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In the wake of the release of Samsung's healthy financial results for the second quarter of 2012, the research firm IDC brought out a new report saying that the South Korean tech giant's smartphone division is considerably ahead of its arch rival Apple and the rest of the competition.

While Samsung's Q2 smartphone shipments stood at 50.2 million units, Apple's figures were almost half the way down at 26 million units during the same period of time. According to the report, Samsung's smartphone shipments grew 172.8 percent year-over-year, allowing the company to gain an industry-leading 32.6 percent market share, which was nearly double that of Apple (16.9 percent).

However, as The Verge noted, shipments and sales are two separate things. While Apple shipped 26 million iPhones in the second quarter, it claimed to have sold 35.1 million iPhones during the same quarter. "The discrepancy is likely due to leftover inventory from previous months."

"Samsung and Apple have quickly become the global smartphone heavyweights though both employ somewhat different approaches to the market," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

"Samsung employs a 'shotgun' strategy wherein many models are created that cover a wide range of market segments. Apple, in contrast, offers a small number of high-profile models. While both companies have expanded their geographic presence in pursuit of market share, the two companies will inevitably come into greater conflict as both try to generate additional gains."

Samsung also extended its lead over Nokia (83.7 million units) in the overall mobile phone shipments with 97.8 million units in Q2. The IDC report revealed that Samsung managed to ship in more smartphones than featurephones for the first time.

In the list of the top five smartphone vendors, Nokia stood third with 10.2 million smartphones shipped and mere 6.6 percent market share. HTC and ZTE were in the third and the fourth position with 8.8 million and 8 million shipments, respectively.

IDC, however, pegged ZTE's year-over-year growth at an incredible 300 percent, and according to it, the company, "climbed into the smartphone Top 5 for the first time thanks primarily to shipments of its lower-cost entry-level smartphones in China, where it's based."

When it comes to RIM, placed fourth in IDC's Q2 2011 report, it has now been downgraded to join LG in "others" that have been reported with a total of 50.7 million shipments and 32.9 percent market share.

The worldwide smartphone market grew at 42.1 percent year-over-year rate. Vendors shipped 153.9 million smartphones in Q2, 2012, compared to 108.3 million units in Q2, 2011. The 42.1 percent year-over-year growth was one percentage point lower than IDC's forecast of 43.1 percent for the quarter.

Take a look at the charts below:

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Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, July 26, 2012
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Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, July 26, 2012