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iPhone gains ground, but Android's still top dog

Google's mobile software continues to eat iPhone's lunch in the US, Europe and China, but Apple is catching up in key markets, according to a Kantar Worldpanel ComTech report.

Android's still eating Apple's lunch around the globe.
Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Apple's iPhone had a strong holiday season, according to a report by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech published Wednesday. But Google's Android continues to dominate overall.

In September, October and November 2016, Android phones sold far better than iPhones in China, Germany, France, Italy and Spain -- and edged Apple's iPhones in the US, the report said. But Apple is catching up.

iPhone sales in late 2016, following the release of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, accounted for 43 percent of the US market compared with 37 percent during the same period in 2015. In the UK, iPhone market share rose from 39 percent in 2015 to 48 percent in 2016. That's puts iPhone neck and neck with Android's 50 percent share in the UK for that three-month period.

In the US, Android's hold is slipping, Kantar said, marking the sixth consecutive period of decline. Android accounted for 55 percent of smartphone sales in the US, down from 60 percent during the same holiday period in 2015, the report said.

It's hard to say whether sales of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 would have stopped the Android slide had reports of its exploding battery not caused Samsung to recall --and retrieve -- the phone.

Still, Samsung's Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge accounted for nearly the same amount of sales during the holiday period as the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 6S -- 29 percent for Samsung compared to 31 percent for Apple. And in China, Huawei alone commanded 25 percent of sales for the three month span, out of 80 percent of Android sales total.

China has been a key market that Apple has been anxious to crack. And while Android still holds sway in many countries around the world, Apple still has room to grow -- and continues to do so.

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech

Updated at 2:32 p.m. PT: with more details and fleshed out numbers.

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