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Looking at Apple's smartphone sales during the same quarter, Strategy Analytics shows that Apple sold 16.2 million iPhone 4S devices. Clearly, Samsung's GSIII beat the iPhone 4S by nearly 2 million units, giving it the smartphone crown -- at least for a while.
"Samsung's Galaxy S3 has proven wildly popular with consumers and operators across North America, Europe and Asia," said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. "However, the Galaxy S3's position as the world's best-selling smartphone model is likely to be short-lived."
Why? The iPhone 5, of course. The iPhone 5, which debuted September 21, was probably responsible for the dip in iPhone 4S sales during the latter half of the third quarter as consumers refrained from making purchases until the new device became available. Further, sales of the iPhone 4S probably dropped off a cliff once the iPhone 5 actually reached store shelves.
[ More bad news for the iPhone maker: Apple Hit With $368 Million Patent Verdict. ]
The Galaxy S III is sold by the top four wireless networks in the U.S., as well as some of the smaller regional players. The iPhone 5 has a similar distribution setup, with the exception being T-Mobile USA, which does not sell the iPhone.
"The Apple iPhone 5 has gotten off to a solid start already with an estimated 6.0 million units shipped globally during Q3 2012," continued Mawston. "We expect the new iPhone 5 to out-ship Samsung's Galaxy S3 in the coming fourth quarter of 2012 and Apple should soon reclaim the title of the world's most popular smartphone model."
I wouldn't feel bad for Samsung, though. Late last month the company launched sales of the Galaxy Note II in the U.S. and other countries. The Note II is already off to a strong start around the world. Combined, sales of the GSIII and Note II will outpace Apple's iPhone 5. In fact, the Note II has already reached sales of 3 million in just a few weeks.
As it has been all year, Samsung and Apple will continue to battle one another for smartphone supremacy into 2013 and beyond.