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Samsung is once again the world's biggest smartphone vendor, but its profits haven't recovered

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For a brief moment at the end of last year, Apple and Samsung shared the title of the world's biggest smartphone maker, with each shipping somewhere around 74 million devices in Q4. The first three months of 2015 have marked a return to prior form as Apple's total came down to 61 million while Samsung's, according to Strategy Analytics estimates, has risen beyond the 80 million mark again. But it's not all great news for the Korean company: while Apple's high volume is matched by a consistently high average selling price, the growth for Samsung has come from its less profitable mid-range and low-end devices like the Galaxy A, E, and J series.

With an estimated 83 million smartphones shipped in Q1 2015, Samsung owns a comfortable lead in terms of volume, however it's still got some catching up to do to match its 89 million shipments from a year earlier. Samsung anticipates a more profitable second quarter of the year thanks to its newly introduced Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge flagship devices. Both phones mark a significant upgrade for Samsung's premier smartphone line and look poised to deliver on the company's promise. In total, Samsung reported earnings of 47 trillion won (roughly $44 billion) for the quarter ending March 31st, resulting in an operating profit of 6 trillion won ($5.6 billion). Those numbers are 12 percent and 30 percent down, respectively, on Samsung's Q1 2015 tallies of 53 trillion won of income and 8.5 trillion in operating profit.

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Source: Strategy Analytics

Beyond the high-flying Samsung and Apple, Strategy Analytics places the combined Lenovo-Motorola group in third spot and Huawei in fourth, though they're just two of a number of rising Chinese companies vying for a greater share of the market. For now at least, Samsung continues to reign supreme, even if it's doing so in a less lustrous fashion than previously.