An analyst has indicated that the iPhone 5 outsold the Samsung Galaxy S III globally for the first time in Q4 2012, citing the iPhone's "rich touchscreen, extensive distribution and generous operator subsidies" as reasons for its quarterly victory.
The research pins iPhone 5 sales at 27.4 million in Q4 2012, while the Galaxy S III sold just 15.4 million. The iPhone 4S, surprisingly, came in at 17.4 million units sold. Apple's iPhone captured a 20 percent global handset market share, while Samsung captured an estimated 7 percent. Neither Apple nor Samsung release sales figures per quarter, so these numbers are estimates.
A point to note is the age of the two handsets. The Galaxy S III was released in May 2012, making it slightly older than the iPhone 5, which was released last year in September. The Galaxy IV is already being hyped, which may have caused consumers to layoff buying the S III in preparation for the newer, faster, better S IV. However, the iPhone 4S outsold the S III despite being launched 7 months before the S III (October 2011), which creates a more even playing field.
When combined, the iPhone 5 and 4S account for one in five handsets sold worldwide, an incredible statistic when you consider they're both premium-priced devices and come from one manufacturer. This could be down to several factors, including the quality of the materials used (glass and metal for the iPhones, plastic for the Samsung) as well as OS updates (Apple can wirelessly push updates which bypass carrier restrictions, while Android users have to wait months for updates to be approved by carriers and then handset manufactures).