Apple’s (AAPL) latest iPhone once again laid claim to the title of best-selling smartphone in the world last quarter. According to recent estimates, Apple sold 27.4 million iPhone 5 handsets during the holiday quarter compared to 15.4 million Galaxy S III units. Analysts at Nomura weren’t terribly impressed with the “evolutionary” update that Samsung unveiled last week, but the firm argued in a recent note to clients that the Galaxy S 4 will help Samsung (005930)¬†overtake Apple once again.
“While clearly a step forward relative to the S3, there is much that is evolutionary about the S4, rather than revolutionary,” Nomura analysts wrote in a research note picked up by ValueWalk on Sunday. “Nevertheless, Nomura sees the S4 potentially helping Samsung to overtake Apple in high-end smartphone shipments during 2013.”
The firm feels that Samsung’s latest flagship Android phone doesn’t show much progress on the design front, but it includes a number of compelling new features and a large 5-inch display that will appeal to users in Asian markets and in the West. Nomura sees Samsung shipping between 35 million and 40 million combined Galaxy S 4 and Galaxy Note II smartphones per quarter in the coming months, pushing the South Korean company ahead of Apple in high-end phone shipments.
Also of note, Nomura sees a big shift in the smartphone market playing out over the next few quarters. Apple and Samsung have grown at the expense of smaller rivals in the past, but the firm says that they will now have to focus on stealing share from one another in order to see continued growth. This could result in increased price-based competition that will benefit end-users but will also put added pressure on margins.