At a time when Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) shares tumble after a report surfaced Wednesday saying Foxconn had frozen hiring in China amid the dwindling demand for iPhone 5, a new survey of the global smartphone market has revealed that Apple handsets were the most popular smartphones in the world in Q4 2012, dwarfing the rival, Samsung Galaxy S3.

Research firm Strategy Analytics came up with a new survey report of the global smartphone market, in which it said that Apple iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S each outsold the Samsung Galaxy S3 during the fourth quarter of 2012, the lucrative holiday season. While iPhone 5 taking the top spot may not come as surprise, the 16-month old iPhone 4S outperforming one of the popular Android handsets -- Galaxy S3 -- is indeed unexpected.

As per the data revealed by Strategy Analytics, Apple shipped an estimated 27.4 million units of iPhone 5 during the fourth quarter of 2012 that helped the flagship device capture an impressive 13 percent share of the global smartphone market and thereby, become the world’s best-selling smartphone.

Even in the second spot, it was Apple again with an estimated 17.4 million units of the iPhone 4S shipped worldwide, accounting for 8 percent of the smartphone share globally in Q4 2012. That said, Apple’s iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S currently appear to be the world’s two most popular smartphone models. Both the smartphones together accounted for one in five of all smartphones shipped worldwide during the period.

According to the survey report, it was the “rich touchscreen design,” coupled with “extensive distribution across dozens of countries and generous operator subsidies,” that helped iPhone 5 to outshine other products.

Surprisingly, the popular Samsung Galaxy S3 could manage to be only the third best-selling smartphone model in the world. During the period, Samsung shipped 15.4 million units of the Galaxy S3 globally, capturing 7 percent share of the worldwide smartphone market.

Despite being popular among consumers and operators across North America, Europe and Asia, Samsung Galaxy S3’s market share dropped by over 3 percent from previous quarter.

Global smartphone shipments and market share by model in Q4 2012. Strategy Analytics Handset Country Share Tracker

However, the research firm seemed optimistic about the future of Samsung Galaxy S devices, saying the “global demand for the Galaxy S3 appears to have peaked and Samsung will surely be keen to introduce its rumored Galaxy S4 upgrade in the coming weeks to fight back against Apple’s popular iPhone range.”

As AppleInsider noted, the launch of the Apple iPhone 5 months after the May release of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and subsequent price cut of the iPhone 4S to $99 on contract contributed to the remarkable boost in Apple’s sales.


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