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Samsung Galaxy S III is smartphone top seller - for the moment

The Samsung Galaxy S III, for the first time, is the top-selling smartphone in the world, beating out both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, according to Strategy Analytics data for the third quarter of 2012.

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The Galaxy S III, researchers said, sold 18 million units globally during the third quarter, representing 11% of all devices shipped, putting it ahead of the iPhone 4S at 16.2 million. Strategy Analytics credited strong carrier subsidies, an attractive display and wide distribution for the Galaxy S III's success in the quarter.

What's more, said senior analyst Neil Shah, Apple's own sales slowdown likely helped propel the Galaxy S III to the top.

"Consumers temporarily held off purchases in anticipation of a widely expected iPhone 5 upgrade at the end of the quarter," he says. The iPhone 5 saw 6 million units sold during this period, despite being released very near the end of the quarter.

Strategy Analytics Executive Director Neil Mawston says that this lead for the Galaxy S III is likely to be a temporary phenomenon, however.

"The Apple iPhone 5 has gotten off to a solid start already with an estimated 6 million units shipped globally during Q3 2012. We expect the new iPhone 5 to out-ship Samsung's Galaxy [S III] in the coming fourth quarter of 2012 and Apple should soon reclaim the title of the world's most popular smartphone model," he says.

Email Jon Gold at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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