Apple edges Samsung in Q4 smartphone market despite selling fewer units compared to 2016

(Reuters/Carlo Allegri)Apple beat rival Samsung in smartphone sales last quarter.

The smartphone wars during the holiday season have been very tight, though only one victor emerged when the dust settled and the smoke cleared.

Apple surpassed its rival Samsung for the top spot in the global smartphone market during the fourth quarter of 2017, said the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. The data revealed that the American tech giant sold 77.3 million iPhones during the quarter, accounting for 19.2 percent of the global market share. The company trailed their Korean rivals during the first three quarters of last year.

Apple was able to close out the year with a bang, thanks to the sales generated from the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, the IDC report noted. Interestingly, Apple shipped a lesser number of smartphones last quarter compared to the same time in 2016. The tech giant shipped a total of 403.5 million smartphone units last quarter, which marked a 6.3 percent decline from 430.7 million units from Q4 of 2016.

"Apple continues to prove that having numerous models at various price points bodes well for bringing smartphone owners to iOS," noted the IDC report. On the other hand, Samsung shipped 74.1 million smartphone units last quarter, which is good for second place with an 18.4 percent market share. Moreover, the number was 4.4 percent lower than the 77.5 million units it shipped in Q4 of 2016.

Meanwhile, Apple is reported to be in the middle of a probing from the U.S. government in relation to the issue on the slowing down of older iPhone models. According to Bloomberg, sources who are close to the matter said that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are currently looking into the possibility that Apple may have breached some laws on disclosures.

The possible violation stemmed from the series of software updates rolled out by the company late last year that resulted in older iPhone models slowing down in terms of performance.