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iPhone 6 blamed for South Korea's falling smartphone exports

Korea's smartphone exports for October fall by almost 36 percent, with the country's government blaming the release of Apple's latest gadget and cheap Chinese phones.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The release of Apple's iPhone 6 contributed to South Korea's exports of smartphones plummeting by 35.5 percent year-on-year to $1.1 billion, according to the country's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The ministry said Apple's launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus , as well as Chinese manufacturers' expansion in the low- to mid-range market, were the main causes of the comprehensive decline.

Phone exports from Korea to the US actually rose during October, but dropped in China and Japan, the world's second and third largest markets respectively.

For all cellular phones, including non-smartphones, Korea's exports totalled $2.42 billion, a decline of 17.7 percent from the same period a year ago.

Total export volume in smartphones to the US was $670 million, a rise of 17.1 percent from last year. Those to Vietnam and Brazil -- two countries of rising importance to Korea and its flagship conglomerate Samsung -- were $330 million and $100 million, a rise of 52.6 percent and 12.8 percent respectively.

In China and Hong Kong, where Chinese phonemaker Xiaomi is holding sway, exports fell by 5.9 percent to $710 million. Japan, known for its loyalty to Apple, dropped a steep 36.8 percent to $160 million.

On a positive note, however, thanks to the recently released Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and LG G3 , it is the first time in three months that smartphones exports exceeded $1 billion.

The ministry said phone exports will likely improve, thanks to Samsung's new Galaxy A series , pictured above, and LG's ongoing marketing campaign for the G3 family of phones. But the coming holiday season is likely to boost iPhone sales, and the efforts of Chinese and Indian competitors warranted caution in estimating too bright a future, the ministry warned.

Total exports for the month of October amounted to $16 billion, only a 1 percent drop from last year's record figures, thanks chiefly to the semiconductor industry. Samsung, which posted an operating profit drop of 60 percent, recorded strong profits for its semiconductor business to the tune of 2.3 trillion won ($2.1 billion).