Smartphone stars leave analysts addled

Samsung took the smartphone sales crown in Q1 2012, unless of course it was Apple: turns out, analysts aren't entirely sure who's sitting top of the pile for high-tech phones. Conflicting sales numbers for the two firms from research companies IHS iSuppli and Strategy Analytics show a yawning 12.5m difference in estimates for Samsung's smartphone sales for the first three months of the year, enough to throw the rankings into confusion.

Both research firms agree that Samsung has ousted Nokia from its position in mobile phone sales overall, but things get a little more speculative when it comes to the smartphone subset of those sales. While Apple detailed exactly how many iPhones it sold in the last quarter – a whopping 35m, no less – Samsung played it coy with its own financials from earlier today.

All the Korean firm would say was that it sold 93.5m handsets overall – comprising both smartphones and regular mobiles – leaving IHS iSuppli and Strategy Analytics to guesstimate exact proportions. IHS' number-crunchers came up with 32m, thus putting Samsung in second place to Apple, while SA were far more confident and settled on 44.5m, suggesting almost 10m more sales than the iPhone managed.

"Samsung overtook Apple to become the world's largest smartphone vendor by volume with a record 31 percent market share" Strategy Analytics reckons. "Samsung's global smartphone shipments rose 253 percent annually to 44.5 million units, as demand surged for its popular Galaxy models such as the Note, S2 and Y."