Galaxy S3 steals crown as top-selling smartphone – for now

More bad news for Apple: Samsung’s Galaxy S3 has become the world’s best-selling smartphone, knocking the iPhone 4S down to second place.

The Galaxy S3 had 10.7 percent of the global market during the third quarter, compared with 9.7 percent for the iPhone 4S, says research firm Strategy Analytics. Some 18 million S3s were shipped, up 230 percent on the previous quarter.

“A large touchscreen design, extensive distribution across dozens of countries, and generous operator subsidies have been among the main causes of the Galaxy S3’s success,” says analyst Neil Mawston.

“Apple shipped an estimated 16.2 million iPhone 4S units worldwide for second place, as consumers temporarily held off purchases in anticipation of a widely expected iPhone 5 upgrade at the end of the quarter.”

But the company doesn’t expect Samsung’s glory to be terribly long-lived; in the next quarter, the iPhone 5 will likely help Apple take the top slot once again. This quarter, it managed 3.6 percent of the worldwide market, at six million units.

“The Apple iPhone 5 has gotten off to a solid start already with an estimated 6.0 million units shipped globally during Q3 2012,” says 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.”