Global sales of smartphones amounted to 432 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, which represented a seven per cent increase over the fourth quarter of 2015, according to new figures from Gartner.

The statistics have revealed that Apple overtook Samsung as the top smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter of 2016.

According to Gartner, Apple sold 77,038.9 units in the fourth quarter of last year, giving the company a market share of 17.9 per cent. Meanwhile, Samsung sold 76,782.6 and had a market share of 17.8 per cent. This was a drop from 20.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner, said: “This is the second consecutive quarter in which Samsung has delivered falling quarterly smartphone sales. Samsung’s smartphone sales declined eight per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016 and its share dropped by 2.9 percentage points year-on-year.”

He went on to explain that Samsung’s sales started to fall in the third quarter of 2016 and that the decision to discontinue the Galaxy Note 7 slowed down smartphone sales in the fourth quarter. He said the withdrawal of the Note 7 “left a gap in its large-screen phone range”.

Gartner said that Samsung also faced more competition in the mid-tier and entry-level smartphone segments from Huawei, Oppo, BBK and Gionee, which all saw increased sales each quarter.

Huawei, Oppo and BBK accounted for 21.3 per cent of smartphones sold to end users worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2016, a year-on-year increase of 7.3 per cent.

In terms of operating systems, Apple couldn’t keep up with Android. Google’s operating system controlled a huge 81.7 per cent of the market in the fourth quarter of 2016, while iOS held onto 17.9 per cent.

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