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Samsung smartphone sales may outshine Apple

At an estimated 18 million to 21 million units, Samsung may have sold more smartphones than Apple in the second quarter, says Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston.

Samsung has passed Nokia and may have passed Apple in global smartphone sales during the second quarter, according to estimates from Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston.

Smartphones like the Galaxy S II have boosted Samsung's sales.
Smartphones like the Galaxy S II have boosted Samsung's sales. Josh Miller/CNET

Responding to a recent series of questions from Bloomberg, Mawston pegged Samsung's second-quarter smartphone sales at anywhere from 18 million to 21 million.

Even on the low end, the numbers surpass those of Nokia, which sold 16.7 million smartphones for the quarter. And if they're are at or near the high end, it means Samsung also edged past Apple, which sold 20.3 million iPhones over the same period.

Either way, the numbers show Android gaining on Apple at the same time that Nokia is just trying to stay in the race, according to Bloomberg. An investor's report from Nomura Securities in June forecast that both Samsung and Apple would overtake Nokia in smartphone sales by the second quarter.

Though still the leading smartphone vendor across the world this year, Nokia's share has steadily dropped. A Gartner report in May discovered that the company's first-quarter share this year had dipped to 25 percent from 30 percent a year ago, its lowest level in 14 years.

In a bid to stay competitive, Nokia reportedly recently trimmed the prices of some of its specific smartphone models. In the meantime, the company is in a bit of a holding pattern as it tries to move ahead on its deal with Microsoft to jump from Symbian to Windows Phone as its core mobile operating system.

The 20.3 million iPhones sold by Apple during the second calendar quarter (Apple's third fiscal quarter) showed a 142 percent jump from a year ago and far surpassed the average analyst's estimate of 16.9 million units, according to Fortune. Apple's COO Tim Cook largely attributed the gains to expansion into emerging markets, including China, Latin America, and the Middle East.

A variety of rumors about an iPhone 5 have bounced around the past several months, but a number of reports point to Apple launching its next iPhone sometime in the fall, probably in September. A new iPhone could slow some of the momentum for Samsung, according to Mawston.

For now though, Samsung may have led the pack in the second quarter with its lineup of Android devices, particularly the Galaxy S II handset, which more than doubled operating profits at the company's mobile phone unit, said Bloomberg. Samsung is now looking to more than double sales of its higher-end smartphones this year.

"Samsung's Android portfolio is selling strongly in most regions," Mawston told Bloomberg. "Samsung stands a reasonable chance of capturing the top spot on a quarterly basis if it can continue expanding its Android portfolio across high-growth markets like China and Brazil. Samsung and Apple will be at similar levels in smartphones by the end of the year."