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Smaller smartphone firms hunting down Samsung Galaxy S4 and Apple iPhone

The global smartphone market continued to see a strong uptick this quarter, with Samsung once again leading the pack thanks to its newest flagship device, the Galaxy S4.

Apple's growth stalled ahead of the expected launch of a new iPhone this autumn, though it still managed to move 31.2 million devices, according to separate reports from IDC and Strategy Analytics.

Both companies, however, lost some market share to smaller players like LG and ZTE.

IDC and Strategy Analytics found that Samsung, Apple, and LG nabbed the top three spots for global smartphone shipments in the second quarter. IDC put Samsung shipments at 72.4 million, while Strategy Analytics put that number at 76 million, which is up from about 50 million during the same time period last year. LG was in third place with 12.1 million.

IDC put Lenovo and ZTE in the fourth and fifth spots, while Strategy Analytics had ZTE and Huawei, respectively, all of which had shipments of about 11 million.

The numbers put Samsung on top for global smartphone market share, with about 30 per cent, though that was a drop of between two and three percentage points from last year. IDC found that in addition to buying the Galaxy S4, a number of smartphone buyers were opting for the older Galaxy S3 since it got a price drop after the GS4 launch.

Apple followed at around 13 per cent, which Strategy Analytics said was its lowest level for three years.

"The current iPhone portfolio is under-performing and Apple is at risk of being trapped in a pincer movement between rival 3in Android models at the low-end and 5in Android models at the high-end," Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

IDC, however, said that despite the drop, Apple's numbers were still impressive given that it hasn't had a new device since last autumn and was facing increasing pressure from the Galaxy S4 and HTC One. The firm speculated that Apple could see growth if it launches its much-rumoured low-cost iPhone and continues to penetrate pre-paid markets.

Losses for Apple and Samsung were gains for the smaller players, with LG jumping from 3.7 per cent last year to 5.1 per cent in this quarter, and similar gains for Lenovo and ZTE, IDC said.

LG "reinvigorated" its smartphone lineup with the Nexus 4 and Optimus G Pro, seeing a profit thanks to a "steady diet of Android-powered smartphones, a feat that very few Android vendors have been able to realize," IDC said. It should see continued growth in the high-end market with the upcoming G2.

Strategy Analytics reached a similar conclusion. "LG was a star performer as global shipments doubled year over year to 12.1 million units in Q2 2013," said analyst Linda Sui. "LG captured 5 percent share and maintained its position as the world's third largest smartphone vendor for the second straight quarter. The popular Optimus and Nexus models have been the main drivers of LG's success. If LG can expand its retail presence and marketing in major countries such as the US or China, LG could quietly start to challenge Apple for second position."