Will Apple Lose its Smartphone Crown to Samsung?

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) was officially dethroned as the largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world on Friday morning. Sales of Samsung’s sales of smartphone handsets surged during the first quarter, with the company saying it shipped over 92 million phones worldwide, compared Nokia’s 82 million.

Samsung brought in revenue of $37.3 billion, with profits of $5.17 billion, a 98 percent increase from the year-ago quarter. Samsung’s growth stems from its mobile device unit, which brought in $16.7 billion in revenue, an 86 percent increase from the year-ago period.

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According to research firms, figures suggest that Samsung sold closer to 93 million mobile phones, which includes smartphones and other handsets. However, the actual number of smartphones that Samsung sold is unknown, and the company has made no announcement on the figure. Firms vary on the number of smartphones the company has sold, with estimates ranging from 32 million to 44.5 million.

A figure closer to the higher end of that range would imply that Samsung has even beat Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the smartphone race. Apple sold 35 million iPhones in its most recent quarter. But a figure near the lower end of the range would not dethrone Apple as the rightful smartphone king.

Whether Samsung is remain the reigning champion in this battle is yet to be seen, but nevertheless, the company’s victory is indisputably impressive. Samung’s sale of approximately 93 million devices gives it 25.4 percent of the global cell phone market. Samsung’s Galaxy S III will be released later this year and is expected to be a strong competitor for Apple’s iPhone 5, also expected later this year.

Meanwhile, formerly reigning leader Nokia has encountered a string of bad luck over the course of the last two years as rivals Apple and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) dominated the market with iOS and Android. Even though Nokia’s share of the smartphone market is unknown at this point, one thing is certain: Nokia is flirting with the disastrous line that separates it from Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM). Currently, Nokia is just ahead of RIM’s estimated 11 million in first-quarter smartphone sales.