It’s quickly become the most hotly contested battle in recent technological history — who produces the best smartphones, Apple or Samsung? There’s no denying that the gap is closing, both in terms of sales figures and consumer perceptions, but just how did this rivalry end up where it is today?

Travis McCourt, from financial advisers Raymond James, has kindly put together some rather interesting graphs, depicting the sales history of the Galaxy and iPhone series of handsets.

iPhone vs Galaxy sales 2

It goes without saying that Apple always had the advantage thanks to its established iPhone brand. Being first to market saw Apple hold a substantial lead over the first two generations of the Galaxy S series.

Whilst it’s clear that Apple is still way out ahead when it comes to month on month sales, the Galaxy handsets have captured more of the market in recent years, demonstrating quicker adoption rates and higher total sales with each new iteration of the series.

iPhone vs Galaxy sales 3Even though the Galaxy S2 was a very popular handset (I’m still very much attached to mine) its total sales figures are dwarfed by that of the iPhone 4. It seems very obvious now, but the Galaxy S3 really was the turning point for Samsung, generating as many sales as the Galaxy S2 in just a fraction of the time.

Perhaps most interestingly, the Galaxy S3 was selling units almost as quickly as the iPhone 5, quite a drastic change in market behavior compared with the launches of the Galaxy S and S2. Both of these handsets had much slower starts than the Galaxy S3, a telling sign that Samsung’s high end smartphones have only just started to appeal to consumers in the same way as the iPhone. The Galaxy Note 2 has also fared quite well, already matching the total number of sales as the original Galaxy Note.

But Apple still enjoys the most rapid sales figures, and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. The iPhone 4S and 5 both saw much better sales statistics in the first few weeks after launch than any Galaxy product to date.

iPhone vs Galaxy sales 1

This last chart is by far the most encouraging for fans of Samsung and the Galaxy series. As we’ve heard before, over the course of 2012, Galaxy sales leapt from 9 million to 38 million units each quarter, just about nudging out iPhone sales in Q3 as well. From the looks of the data it seems that the Galaxy S3 launch at the end of May had a direct impact on iPhone sales, leading to the overlap in September.

But the launch of the iPhone 5 quickly rectified this problem for Apple, and the company managed to close out the year ahead of Samsung yet again.

There are so many questions about the future of the iPhone vs Galaxy war: will the launch of the Galaxy S4 finally see Samsung leap ahead of the iPhone permanently, or will Apple hold off the S4 just like it did the Galaxy S3? What about the next iPhone, could that cost Apple the lead, or will it further cement the tech giant’s lead over Samsung? Sound off your thoughts in the comments.

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer at Android Authority, covering the latest trends in consumer electronics and hardware. In his spare moments, you'll probably find him tinkering with audio electronics and programming.
  • These seem to be the stats of the sales in the US… can you please throw some light on the Global sales of the above mentioned handsets?

    • kascollet

      Those are global sales.

      • Magneira

        Its cool to know about this, and it is good that the Galaxy series is helping android to grow bigger. but the important thing is that Android in selling more worldwide thant Ios and WP8 or anything else. For us that is what matters because our platform as a whole its getting bigger and better so we can chose whatever device from whatever manufacter whe want!

        • kascollet

          That’s right but those sales are about the high-end devices that lead innovation in the mobile industry (be it hardware or software), not because they innovate much (Samsung and Apple are no champions in this regard) but because they put to market the features that most of the people use.
          What happens in the low-end and/or low-sale tier accounts for very little.

  • june

    stats are way off

    • Vboom

      Do you have a source or is this an assumption?

  • wonder

    I wonder if Apple will take the risk by releaseing iphone 5s or they will release iphone 6 to make sure they stay ahead

    • Pete

      Given their sales of the 4S (Dec ’11 & Mar ’12 in the bar chart above), it is not unreasonable to assume that the 5S will sell extremely well.

  • Sal

    We should see stats on the world, not just the U.S.

    • Vboom

      These are global stats

  • vampyren

    The only reason for me to buy the next iphone would be 4.8 plus display. I got S3 and plan to buy S4 as i love the design + SD card and screen. yes i got iphone 5 and love both iOS and Android for different reasons :)

  • bob

    The only reason iphone is still ahead is that people fear changing what they know. Attitudes are chaging quick though. Iphone imo would have to come out swinging hard with 6 or their share of the market will dwindle further. I think they will play it safe though once again scared to use big screens.

  • Ziich

    i think apple will still squeak out on top this year but just barely samsung’s galaxy series is definitely now as big as iPhones. if apple doesnt step up they will be sorry next year

  • Phox

    These are not global stats. They are either stats from the US or made up as they do not correspond with other charts nor articles about sales figures on many other sites…