Apple has caught up with Samsung as the world’s biggest smartphone seller in the world, due to soaring sales of its larger iPhone 6 model, according to new research.
The data, from market researcher Strategy Analytics, indicates that Apple shipped 74.5 million handsets in the fourth quarter, compared to 51 million a year ago.
Samsung logged the same number of shipments, which in its case marked a downturn from 86 million the previous year.
The turnaround saw Samsung’s share of the global smartphone market tumble from 30 percent to 19.6 percent, on a par with Apple.
“Samsung continues to face intense competition from Apple at the higher-end of the smartphone market, from Huawei in the middle-tiers and from Xiaomi and others at the entry-level,” Strategy Analytics said in a statement.
“Samsung may soon have to consider taking over rivals, such as Blackberry, in order to revitalise growth this year,” it added.
Across the entire year, Samsung remained the top smartphone vendor in 2014, with total shipments of 317.2 million units, followed by Apple’s 192.7 million.
Apple reported a record net profit of $18 billion in the quarter, on the back of what the California tech titan described as “staggering” iPhone 6 sales — especially in China.
Its South Korean rival, on the other hand, has seen its quarterly profits slashed in 2014, in the face of escalating competition at every price point.
Samsung, which belatedly entered the market pioneered by Apple, had dethroned the US firm as the world’s top smartphone vendor in the third quarter of 2011.
The South Korean electronics giant then went on to replace Nokia as the global leader in overall mobile phone sales in the first quarter of 2012.
Over the past year, Samsung’s market-leading position has been under siege from a resurgent Apple and rising Chinese rivals like Xiaomi.
The South Korean company, whose latest Galaxy S5 smartphone received a lukewarm reception, posted its first drop in annual net profits in three years on Thursday.