What might be surprising to some is that, in addition, the iPhone 4S was in second place. Apple's 2011 top-of-the-line model was discounted to $99 on-contract after the company's new flagship iPhone 5 was unveiled, and consumers snapped it up.
That being said, to those who understand the whys of Android fragmentation, both software and hardware, the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S III, the Korean giant's flagship phone, arrives in third place still impresses.
The Galaxy S III was the top handset in Q3 2012, before the full impact of iPhone 5, which arrived late, was felt. (naturally, the GS3 was becoming more passe with every passing day, as well). Samsung sold 18.0 million GS3s in Q3 2012, but only 15.4 million in Q4.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 5 got a late start in Q3, with 6.0 million sold, rising to 27.4 million in Q4 or close to double the GS3's sales. The iPhone 4S, meanwhile, saw 17.4 million devices sold in Q4, an increase over Q3, when 16.2 million were sold.
All told, the iPhone 5 and 4S amounted to over 1/5 of the total smartphones sold globally (12.6 percent and 8.0 percent respectively for a total of 20.6 percent), while the Galaxy S III had 7.1 percent of the total smartphone market. In Q3 the iPhone 5 had 3.5 percent of the market, while the 4S had 9.4 percent, and the GS3 slotted in with 10.4 percent.
Other analysts' reports show that Samsung is currently tops in cell phones overall, and tops in smartphones overall, globally. That, naturally, includes all the varied handsets that Samsung sells, not just the GS3 (the Galaxy Note II is well on its way to being quite successful, for example).
While the GS3 already seems to have seen its popularity peak, it won't be long before a successor is launched. Samsung is expected to introduced the Galaxy S IV on March 14.