However, Samsung edged out the company by a small margin for the entire year. Samsung sold 36 million smartphones in Q4 and 95 million in 2011, followed by Apple with 93 million devices. Apple was able to grow its phone sales by 96 percent in 2011, while Samsung achieved a 278 percent jump.
Nokia fell into third place as smartphone shipments declined by 23 percent to 77 million units. Sony Ericsson was fourth with 20 million and Motorola fifth with 19 million smartphones. IHS said that it was not able shipment numbers from other suppliers, including HTC and LG, which have not reported their numbers yet.
“Apple’s introduction of the 4S in the fourth quarter unleashed tremendous pent-up demand for the iPhone as consumers awaited the arrival of the latest model,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst, wireless communications at IHS. “This caused the company’s smartphone shipments to surge, allowing it to retake market leadership by a slight margin. However, Apple and Samsung continue to run neck and neck in global smartphone shipments, setting up a tight battle for leadership that will continue throughout 2012.”