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Android wins U.S. smartphone lead back from iOS, says report

Android phone makers can thank Sprint for much of their sales gains in the November-through-January period, says market researcher Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Samsung's Galaxy S3 helped Android win more sales in the U.S.
Samsung's Galaxy S3 helped Android win more sales in the U.S. Josh Miller/CNET

Android has pulled ahead of Apple's iOS in U.S. smartphone sales, according to data out today from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

During the three months ending with January, Android scored 49.9 percent of all U.S. smartphone sales, a 6.4 percent gain from the same period last year. Over the same time, iOS took second place with a 45.9 percent cut of smartphone sales, a drop of 4.7 percent from a year ago.

Microsoft's Windows Phone eked out its own slice of growth, taking home 3.2 percent of U.S. smartphone sales.

The latest results mark a comeback for Android. Over the three months that ended in December, the iPhone won 51.2 percent of all U.S. smartphone sales, leaving Android with 44.8 percent and Windows Phone with 2.6 percent, Kantar said last month.

Android phone makers can thank Sprint for much of their sales gains, according to Kantar.

For the three months ending October 2012, smartphone sales through Sprint were divided almost equally between Android and iOS. But for the last rolling three-month period, Android's share of Sprint sales jumped to 71.9 percent from 49.3 percent previously.

Sprint customers are also paying less money for their Android phones.

"The 50/50 split we saw in the period ending October 2012 was a result of both iOS and Android sharing similar levels of average price paid (iOS at $130 and Android at $127)," Kantar analyst Mary-Ann Parlato said in a statement. "Yet this latest period saw a significant price drop to $95 for Android, while iOS increased slightly to $146."

Samsung's Galaxy S3 proved a hot seller thanks in part to a more tempting price tag. In the October period, the S3 grabbed only 14 percent of all smartphone sales through Sprint. But after a subsequent price drop to $99 from $199, the S3 surged to win 39 percent of all Sprint smartphone sales.

Overall, Samsung accounted for 60.3 percent of all the smartphones sold by Sprint over the January period. And that number could rise this spring. Samsung is set to unveil the Galaxy S4 at a special launch event on March 14.

Kantar's stats come from its U.S. consumer panel, which interviews more than 240,000 people each year about mobile phone purchases, usage, and bills.