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Analysts say Apple has beaten Samsung to become world's largest smartphone vendor

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Samsung is refusing to release concrete figures, but some industry experts are giving the win to Apple

Ben Bajarin/Creative Strategies

After recording the biggest quarterly profit by any company ever, Apple might have earned itself another accolade: world's largest smartphone vendor. It's clear that the iPhone maker had a bumper quarter, reporting record sales of 74.5 million smartphones. However, Samsung is only saying that it sold 95 million total handsets, of which, it says, somewhere between 71 million and 75 million (the "high 70 percent") were smartphones.

If Samsung sold more phones it would probably be keen to say so

So has Apple finally beaten Samsung? It's impossible to say with absolute certainty. Samsung isn't likely to give up any more information on the topic, and analysts and industry experts are hedging their bets accordingly. Some are marking it as a dead heat while others are claiming Apple as the winner. Counterpoint Research, which polls global distributors for its figures, says the iPhone maker is definitely ahead — pegging Samsung's shipments at only 73.8 million. Ben Bajarin, an analyst for Creative Strategies also gives the win to Apple (see chart above), but Strategy Analytics claims both vendors shipped 74.5 million smartphones in the fourth quarter last year.

However, even if we mark this a draw, Apple still wins. Not only did the company sell a record number of iPhones last quarter — it also increased the average selling price of its devices by $50 from the previous year. That's a massive win whether it's the world's largest smartphone vendor or not.