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Apple boosts lead over Samsung in US smartphone arena

While Samsung devices dominate the global smartphone market, Apple's iPhone continues to rule the US.

Apple's iPhone remains ahead of Samsung phones in market share, at least in the US. Josh Miller/CNET

Apple continues to outshine its arch rival Samsung in the US smartphone market.

For the three months ended July, Apple remained in first place in the US with a smartphone market share of 44.2 percent, up from 43.1 percent for the prior three months, ComScore said on Thursday. Over the same time, Samsung's share dripped down to 27.3 percent from 28.6 percent.

Apple and Samsung have long been duking it out for the position of top dog in the smartphone market. On a global basis, Samsung has typically held first place over the past few years and continued to rule over Apple in the second quarter, according to IDC and Gartner. However, Samsung's smartphone market share and sales have been on a decline for almost two years now.

Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge have so far failed to bump up sales, leading to Samsung's seventh straight drop in quarterly earnings for the second quarter. The company has been hit by tougher competition from Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi and Huawei on the lower end and by Apple on the higher end. One issue is that Samsung's premium phones continue to sell at a premium price tag. Another is that larger-screened phones are no longer the domain of Android players such as Samsung. Apple joined the big-screen game last year when it unveiled its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with display sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, respectively.

Among the other top smartphone players tracked by ComScore, LG came in third place with a US market share of 8.7 percent, followed by Motorola with 4.9 percent and HTC with 3.5 percent. In the US, Apple and Samsung have a lock on the smartphone market just as they do globally, leaving little but scraps left over for the other vendors.

Among mobile operating systems, Google's Android software still holds the lead in the US, though Apple's iOS has been catching up. For the three months ended July, Android bit off a 51.4 percent slice of the market, down slightly from 52.2 percent during the previous three months. Over the same time, iOS grabbed its 44.2 percent share, up from 43.1 percent.

Microsoft's Windows Phone, which continues to face tough competition and dwindling sales, saw its US smartphone share inch down to 2.9 percent from 3 percent. In early 2014, Microsoft shelled out more than $7.2 billion to purchase Nokia's mobile handset division, but that purchase has failed to pay off. Some analysts have wondered why Microsoft doesn't just throw in the towel and give up on the smartphone business. In early July, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said he was " committed to our first-party devices, including phones." At the same time, the company announced a write off of some of the Nokia assets and a batch of layoffs affecting the mobile division.

Microsoft is looking to Windows 10 as a possible white knight. Already available for PCs and tablets and slated to roll out to mobile phones later this year, the new Windows operating system will try to bring together different devices into one single ecosystem with similar apps and other features. The hope is that someone who runs and likes Windows 10 on their PC or tablet may be more inclined to buy a Windows 10 phone.

Another smartphone player facing tough times is BlackBerry, whose US market share for the three months ended July dropped to 1.3 percent from 1.5 percent. The company continues to introduce new phones with the goal of attracting consumers who like the classic BlackBerry style, but so far those devices have failed to catch on. BlackBerry will purportedly try a different tactic to woo smartphone buyers with the release of its Venice phone, which reports say will be able to run Android instead of the BlackBerry operating system.