Apple grabbed the largest share of the U.S. smartphone market in the fourth quarter last year. This is the first time Apple has ranked top of the U.S. smartphone market.
Archrival Samsung Electronics put up a good fight but lost to Apple by a small margin to cede the No. 1 spot for the first time in five years.
According to global IT market researcher Strategy Analytics on Sunday, Apple had a 34 percent share of the U.S. smartphone market in the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple sold 12.8 million smartphones in the U.S., but that rose to 17.7 million.
The main driver was the iPhone 5. Although criticized for lacking innovative features and problems with the map service, customers flocked to buy the phone since Apple had not rolled out a new model for almost a year.
Another plus for the iPhone 5 was its fourth-generation LTE connectivity. Strategy Analytics said Apple benefited both from its own marketing efforts and discounts offered by mobile providers.
Samsung captured 32.3 percent share of the market, up from 26.9 percent in the fourth quarter 2011. The Korean firm launched its flagship Galaxy S3 model last summer and took the U.S. market by storm in the third quarter, but the iPhone 5, which was unveiled in the fourth quarter, put it into second place.
Samsung sold 16.8 million mobile phones in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of last year, but it was still ahead of Apple in terms of overall sales for the year. Samsung sold 53 million mobile phones to reach a 31.8 percent market share, compared to Apple's 42.7 million and 26.2 percent.
Meanwhile, Samsung is estimated to have secured about 30 percent of the global mobile phone market last year, overtaking Nokia's 25 percent.
In global smartphone sales, Samsung and Apple account for the lion's share, with 27 to 28 percent for the Korean company and 20 to 21 percent for the American firm.