Following a massive retail and advertising push, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S III handset overtook Apple’s iPhone 4S as the world’s best-selling smartphone in the third quarter of this year, according to a Strategy Analytics survey. The Samsung phone sold an estimated 1.8 million units more than the iPhone 4S. Samsung’s lead will be short-lived as Strategy Analytics estimates that the iPhone 5 will become the world’s #1 smartphone in Q4.

Analysts previously estimated that the S III outsold the iPhone 4S, but only in the United States. Samsung stopped reporting device sales last year for competitive reasons and we also don’t know how many of the 18 million S III channel shipments ended up in customers hands. Still, that’s a nice accomplishment for Samsung, which earlier in the week confirmed beating its self-imposed goal of shipping 30 million S III units before year’s end…

Apple in the third quarter shipped six million units of the iPhone 5, the research firm estimates, in addition to 16.2 million iPhone 4S units. Though the two handset models outsold Samsung’s device, individually the S III was the best-selling smartphone model in Q3.

With 18 million S III units and an impressive 11 percent share of all smartphones shipped globally, Samsung’s phone has become the world’s best-selling smartphone model for the first time ever.

Note that S III total doesn’t include the recently unveiled four-inch S III Mini, S2, S or any other related models. The iPhone 4S total does not include the iPhone 5, iPhone 4 or any prior iPhone.

The research firm in a blog post wrote had to say this about the iPhone 5:

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.

Here are the results, shipments-wise.

This is what the worldwide smartphone share looked like in Q3 2012.

There are a couple of reasons for such an outcome.

Firstly, a lot of people held off purchasing the one-year old iPhone 4S in light of the expected iPhone 5 upgrade.

Secondly, Samsung’s phone has been five months on the market now and is widely available across carriers and world markets. The fact that it has a massive screen, a speedy chip and supports 4G LTE didn’t hurt either.

Thirdly, Samsung is a big spender when it comes to advertising. S III ads can be seen everywhere, from television to underground stations to huge billboards in frequent locations to sponsorships of massive sports events. In short, there is no escaping the all-pervasiveness of Samsung’s advertising. Samsung likely benefitted from its anti-Apple commercials as well.

And finally, it is no secret that telcos love the S III and are positioning it as the best iPhone alternative amongst the crop of Android handsets that mostly look the same, with little differentiation in terms of feature. Samsung has done a nice job of developing its own software features that mimic Siri while offering headline capabilities such as interesting sharing options, motion control and more.

I got my S III recently and am pleasantly surprised with the overall package, but I like my iPhone better.


  • Hmmmm. So it means iphone 5 has been beaten by a phone which is months.
    Hmmmm. Uhh those who will commenting here. Plastic or aluminum? Haha

    • Except the iPhone 5 was on sale for just a few days (I believe 9 days) in Q3. Q4 is when we’ll really see the results of iPhone 5 sales.

      • CollegiateLad

        Even still, the year old 4S didn’t trail the S3 by much. Q4 will be a beast.

      • Yeah. .btw. .you got your i5? uhh i was gonna buy one but im worried of the scuff gate thing and the paint, how bout yours? Negtve comments abt it, but still many people buy it.

      • Yes I have my iPhone 5, and it is without a doubt my favorite iPhone yet. I have no problem at all with scratches. I think this issue was greatly exaggerated by the media.

      • Yay. .i hope there will be no scuffs and problems, coz it will be a big problem for me if there will be. Also worried because of the freakin warranty, not global unlike iPads. Haha. Thanks seb.

    • Plastic or aluminum? Which one you want? Dumb f

  • World Best-selling Phone… Yet

  • The Broken Ones

    Yeah. That’s why plastic is very popular in Korea. Platc surgery also.

  • Dan

    I’ve been using my GS3 for about 2 months now and I love it. I don’t miss any functions from IOS so far and keep finding helpful tools in the android OS. Really like the detailed information you receive on data and battery usage. Several stock features like those make me appreciate android as a whole. (Anticipating downvotes but that’s my opinion)

    • Here, I gave you an upvote 🙂

    • Obsidian71

      I gave you an upvote. Opinions are welcome when they’re delivered with honesty and you made the decision that’s best for you. Frankly I’m happy with iOS and where I believe it’s headed but I would like to see a larger 5″ plus iPhone. We’ve got a lot of aging eyes out there where screen size is more important than one-handed operation.

      • Agin eyes. Yea I totally agree. My parents have a 4 and 4s and occasionally will mention their difficultly in reading texts and such. May have to start utilizing the accessibility features.

      • Dan

        Same here, the bigger screen was a factor in my decision. Now when I use my wife’s iPhone 4S, I find myself squinting at the screen. Thankfully my iPad’s screen is big enough lol.

    • Same.. Up.

  • 18million were screwed when iPhone 5 was released

  • Obsidian71

    Channel shipments. LOL. Apple’s numbers would be a lot higher if they bragged about what stock Best Buy, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon had in their warehouse as well.

  • Apple really needs to come up with new ideas for their iPhones. Upping the screen size a little or replacing the processor with a stronger one isn’t good enough imo..

    • apple is lazy now cause they ave no competition at all so they think everything they are doing is perfect

      • bigdaddyd

        Are u stupid???? U just posted a comment under a page thats written about the iphone being out sold…And Apple has no competition????

  • MagicDrumSticks

    I’m impressed with the lack of fanboy comments.

  • jwjvh

    When 2010 Q1, Before apple sued Samsung, Samsung was far behind HTC and Apple. But, After Apple sue them, their market share rising up.

  • chjode

    Today on iSamsungBlog: People buy more units of a new phone than units of a year-old phone with imminent replacement!

  • OMG i am so tired of this BS.. the S3 was killed by the damn 4S a long time ago… funny how its trying to act like it was made to compete with the 5…llol.