A quarter of all smartphones sold during the fourth quarter globally were Apple iPhone devices, according to new research. Apple shipped 37m iPhones during the quarter.
New research from Juniper claims Apple had overtaken Samsung again during the last quarter of 2011.
Almost 25pc of the 149m smartphones shipped worldwide in Q4 were iPhones.
While Apple overtook Samsung to reach No 1, the Korean giant has increased its market share four-fold since Q1 2010: from 4.7pc to 21.7pc.
Samsung’s rise is forcing Apple to continue offering older models to keep ahead, according to Juniper.
While Apple sold 4m iPhone 4Ss within three days of launch, the company’s return to top spot was partly driven by continuing to offer the iPhone 3GS – first launched in 2009 – at rock-bottom prices.
Juniper believes this is an effort to shore up Apple’s defences again a bombardment of standard and premium smartphones from Samsung.
Battle of the brands
Daniel Ashdown, research analyst with Juniper Research, notes: "The scale of Samsung’s product range is saturating the market. Apple has had to counter Samsung’s products, like the Galaxy Ace, in order to maintain the visibility of its brand."
While Apple and Samsung have traded places for the past three quarters, results of other OEMs were more muted.
Taiwan-based HTC was the only other member of the top 5 to see significant year-on-year growth.
Juniper estimates, prior to official data, that the company shipped 12.1m smartphones in Q4.
Elsewhere, troubled Blackberry maker RIM’s woes will be soothed somewhat, as shipments remained steady year-on-year at 14.4m, down just 0.7pc. The year 2012 will be an important year for Nokia as it looks to fight back with a full year of Windows Phone 7 launches. The Finnish OEMs’ smartphone shipments were down 31pc year-on-year in the fourth quarter.