News Update : Apple Close To Beating Samsung In The Smartphone Race

Forget the Patriots and the Seahawks: Apple and Samsung take the crown for biggest rivalry of 2015.

According to Strategy Analytics, the electronics giants tied as the world's No. 1 smartphone vendor in the fourth quarter.
IDC released similar data, but crowned Samsung the victor, with a mere 600,000 units over Apple: 75.1 million vs. 74.5 million.

Together, the American and South Korean companies helped smartphone shipments grow 31 percent, reaching a record 380.1 million at the end of 2014, Strategy Analytics reported. A total 1.3 billion smartphones were delivered worldwide between October and December; emerging markets like India, Africa, and China proved to be popular destinations last quarter.

Apple iPhone 6 (Verizon Wireless):


Samsung did take a 10 percent dive from the same time in 2013 amidst intense competition from newcomers Huawei and Xiaomi. It may take the acquisition of rivals like BlackBerry to help revitalize the company's growth, Strategy Analytics' Neil Mawston suggested (though BlackBerry has denied such plans).

"That the worldwide smartphone market grew by 27.6 percent in 2014 is noteworthy, but it also represents a significant slowdown compared to 2013," Ramon Llamas, IDC research manager, said in a statement.

Mature markets, Llamas said, are more reliant on replacement purchases than first-time buyers, who continue to flood emerging outlets selling low-cost gadgets.

"What remains to be seen is how the vendors beyond Samsung and Apple will assert themselves," Llamas said. "With Lenovo acquiring Motorola, and Xiaomi having greater aspirations beyond China, the competitive pressure will come more from below and less from above. This will make the smartphone race continuously competitive as 2015 shapes up."

"Most of the industry expected an extremely strong holiday quarter from Apple, especially with regards to the iPhone," said Ryan Reith, program director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report. "However, worldwide shipments of 74.5 million units beat everyone's expectations." 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (AT&T) :

Armed with an incredible Quad HD AMOLED display, cutting-edge Snapdragon 805, and Samsung's newfound premium design language, the Galaxy Note 4 ($299 with contract) is easily one of the most impressive smartphones of the year.

The Note series continues to lead the charge on stylus features. Air Command is back, offering instant access to the most useful stylus features whenever you unsheathe the pen or press the button while hovering over the display. S Note is as robust as ever, easily letting you create quick hand-written, text, or voice memos.
Along with the Galaxy Alpha, the Note 4 represents a new, premium breed of Samsung devices. The back is still plastic with a leather-like texture, but the cringe-worthy stitching and faux-chrome band are gone. 
In its place is a handsome metal band, complete with blingy chamfered edges and subtly pronounced corners. 
The 16-megapixel, rear-facing camera is one of the best we've seen. In good light, the Note 4 captures pictures that are incredibly rich in detail, with accurate exposure and reliably instant focus. 
The tip of the stylus has been reworked to better mimic the feel of pen on paper, but I couldn't feel any significant difference. Latency does appear to have been improved, though, which could be thanks to the new GPU onboard. The stylus is more responsive and fluid than ever. 
The density and rigidity evoke a sense of luxury and craftsmanship that eluded Galaxy devices past. It's a beautiful device to behold, but still not comfortable to actually hold. 
The back peels off to reveal the SIM and microSD card slots, as well as a removable 3,220mAh battery, all must-haves for long-time Samsung loyalists. 
The Note 4 (left), the iPhone 6 Plus (middle), and Galaxy S5 (right).
Lenovo's official integration helped Motorola sell 24.7 million devices and capture 6 percent share, barely beating Huawei, which managed about 24 million shipments, according to IDC and Strategy Analytics.

On the operating system front, Android shipped an impressive 1 billion smartphones worldwide last year, accounting for more than 80 percent of 2014's sales, Strategy Analytics found. That's up from 800 million last year. But Google's popular OS runs on what seems like a limitless supply of handsets—from Samsung to HTC to Motorola and more—allowing it to saturate more of the globe than, say, Microsoft.

Redmond shipped just 38.8 million smartphones in 2014, capturing a relatively niche 3 percent market share. While the company's Windows platform dominates PCs, it continues to struggle in the handset business.

[Source: PCMEG]For more, check out Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Big-Screen Showdown and the video below.
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