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Samsung Smartphone Growth Nearly 10 Times Bigger Than Apple

Samsung nearly doubled Apple's smartphone shipments in the first quarter of 2013--and that's even before the hotly anticipated Galaxy S4 goes on sale. According to IDC, Samsung moved 70.7 million units during Q1, compared to 37.4 million for Apple. While Samsung's sales surged 60.7 percent year over year, iPhone sales grew just 6.6 percent, the first time since 2009 that Apple posted single-digit growth. That nearly a 10X delta.

During the first quarter of last year, Samsung and Apple were nearly neck and neck in terms of market share, with 28.8 and 23 percent of the market, respectively. At the end of Q1 2013 Samsung's share stands at 32.7 percent, compared to 17.3 percent for Apple. In fact, Samsung shipped more units than the next four vendors combined.

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To be fair, Samsung offers a much broader array of handsets than Apple, from low-end devices designed for developing markets to premium phablets such as the Galaxy Note II that cost $100 more than the iPhone 5. Nevertheless, Apple will continue to feel pressure from Samsung as the feature-rich Galaxy S4 goes on sale. Many anticipate that the iPhone 5 successor will not go on sale until the fall. Rumors of a cheaper plastic iPhone also persist.

In a sign of the times, smartphone sales surpassed feature phone sales for the first time during the quarter, as more and more companies place their bets on pocket size computers. IDC says vendors shipped 216.2 smartphones, which accounts for 51.6 percent of sales.

IDC's report also shows the continued momentum of Chinese vendors Huawei (94 percent growth) and ZTE (49 percent), as well as the resurgence of LG. The company jumped to the No.3 spot ahead of the above two vendors, returning to the Top 5 after two quarters on the sidelines. IDC credits the L Series, Nexus 4 and Optimus G.