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Galaxy S4 slumps but still top-selling phone, research firm says

Sales dropped worldwide for Samsung's flagship phone in August, but it still beat those of the iPhone 5, according to market researcher CounterPoint.

Samsung's Galaxy S4 is still king of the market.
Samsung's Galaxy S4 is still king of the market. Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung's Galaxy S4 has seen better sales but was still on top of the smartphone crop in August.

Galaxy S4 sales worldwide fell to 5 million in August after reaching a peak of 7 million in June, CounterPoint Research said Wednesday. Sales were lower than expected. But thanks to its entire Galaxy lineup, Samsung was the only mobile phone maker to show month-to-month growth in August, traditionally a slow sales month.

In second place among the 10 best sellers was the 16GB iPhone 5, followed by its 32GB counterpart. Nokia's Asha 501 ranked third, according to CounterPoint. Samsung's Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S3 Mini, Galaxy S3, and Galaxy S4 Mini took the next several spots. The Nokia Asha 205 and Nokia 105 rounded out the top 10 list.

How did Nokia's Asha phones pop up the list? CounterPoint Research Director Peter Richardson told CNET that the Nokia brand is strong across a variety of emerging and fast-growing markets, such as India, which accounts for a lot of the global sales.

"The Asha products are undoubtedly under pressure from low-cost Android devices -- especially from local branded players -- and this pressure will continue to mount as the price of Android products falls further," Richardson added. "But Nokia has been fighting a strong rear-guard action by marketing aggressively through the August period. Furthermore, Nokia took steps to correct some inventory that built in late 2Q and early 3Q. Due to the inventory issues, we're not expecting Nokia's sell-in to be notably strong -- more likely flattish over 2Q13. However Nokia's ultra-low-cost products such as the Nokia 105 offer good value and will likely continue to perform strongly."

Sales of the Galaxy S4 could pick up based on holiday-season pricing, CounterPoint said. But the research firm now expects Samsung to sell 80 percent more S4 units than S3 handsets from initial launch to end of year, down from its prior forecast of 100 percent or more.

Smartphones priced at $400 or higher are showing signs of slower growth, the firm said, as most of the sales in that range are replacement devices for existing users. But the overall smartphone market is still rising at around 40 to 50 percent each year, buoyed by sales of phones below $200.

CounterPoint's data is derived from its monthly Market Pulse report, which analyzes the smartphone and mobile device market. Specifically, the firm regularly surveys a wide range of global distributors to determine how devices are selling. That information is checked against reports from device manufacturers and other sources.

Update, 9:35 a.m. PT: Adds more information from CounterPoint.

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