updated 11:34 am EST, Wed February 20, 2013
Study shows iPhone 5 alone sells nearly double Galaxy S III figures
Apple's dramatic uptick in iPhone sales in the final calendar quarter of 2012 put its two leading iPhone models -- the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S -- at the top of the heap as the current most popular smartphone models in the world, according to handset industry monitoring firm Strategy Analytics. Together, the two iPhone models sold over 44.8 million units in Q4, handily surpassing its nearest rival, Samsung's Galaxy S III (which shipped 15.4 million units, a sizeable decline from the prior quarter).
The survey also provided some insight into specific numbers for sales of the iPhone 4S, which along with the iPhone 4 continues to be made available by Apple as a lower-cost option for postpaid and off-contract buyers. According to Strategy Analytics, the iPhone 4S sold 17.4 million units in Q4, an increase of 1.2 million units over the previous quarter. The iPhone 5, having barely been available and only at the end of Q3, sold only six million units in that quarter -- but increased sales to 27.4 million in Q4 -- itself nearly twice as many as the S III's 15.4 million units shipped.
Sales for the iPhone 4 were not broken out, suggesting that it may have accounted for as many as 3.2 million units during the holiday quarter, given Apple's quarterly total of 48 million iPhones sold. Including the iPhone 4 (but excluding the top three sellers), all other smartphones combined sold 156.8 million units in Q4, for a combined grand total of 217 million smartphones shipped for the last quarter of 2012.
That the iPhone 4S -- which originally debuted in October of 2011 -- is still selling in numbers comparable to the newer Galaxy S III is considered remarkable, particularly given the S III's position as Samsung's current flagship model. The iPhone 5's sales were sufficient to take 13 percent of the marketshare of all smartphone shipments for the quarter, and combined with the iPhone 4S's eight percent gives Apple at least a 21 percent share of the smartphone market, and likely higher given that the iPhone 4 was reported by Apple to have sold at a "surprising" (but officially undisclosed) rate for the quarter.
Numbers for the current quarter will likely show continued decay in the Galaxy S III's shipments, given that it will soon be replaced with the S IV. The improved model is now expected to be formally announced as early as next month and likely to debut in stores come April.
Assuming Apple does not announce a new or improved iPhone model during that quarter, Samsung's numbers are likely to substantially improve in the calendar second quarter. However, rumors have hinted that Apple may offer some sort of "cheaper" iPhone aimed primarily at the prepaid market which could debut in the near future. The reports are currently unsubstantiated, however.
It should be noted that all the figures provided by Strategy Analytics are estimates of shipments rather than sales, based on publicly-available information. No company other than Apple provides actual sell-through numbers. The figures used for the iPhone 5 and total iPhone shipments are reflective of actual sales, as Apple announced total iPhone units sold during its fiscal Q1 conference call with analysts.