The Five Best-Selling Smartphone Brands Of The First Quarter

Best Of The Best

Smartphone sales were up 29 percent in the first quarter, with 281.5 million devices being shipped by vendors compared to 218.8 million in the year-ago quarter, according to International Data Corp. (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

With strong demand from "emerging markets, low-cost devices and the proliferation of 4G networks," the results bested IDC's forecast of 267.2 million phone sales by 5.3 percent.

All five of the top sellers saw an uptick in shipment volume as there were 62.7 million more phones sold this quarter than the first quarter last year. With a number of high-profile phone releases and growing international markets, here's a look at who had the best start to 2014.

5. LG

The Korean conglomerate came in fifth with a 19.4 percent growth in smartphone sales to 12.3 million units. That gave the company a 4.4 percent share of the market. Despite selling 2 million more phones, it actually had a larger market share this time last year at 4.7 percent.

LG's featured phones were the G2, Nexus 5 and the G Flex, which run on the Android operating system. Look for the launch of LG's G3 smartphone early in the second quarter to continue the company's sales growth.

4. Lenovo

With continued success in the Asia and Pacific markets, Lenovo saw the biggest year-over-year unit shipment growth from any vendor on the list at 63.3 percent. The Chinese tech company sold 12.9 million units in the first quarter, good for a 4.6 percent share of the market. That's an increase from the 3.6 percent market share it had last year.

Lenovo is in the midst of acquiring Motorola for $2.91 billion, and is expected to release a new smartphone by the end of the year.

3. Huawei

Huawei saw the second biggest year-over-year unit shipment growth at 47.3 percent. The company sold 13.7 million phones this past quarter, making up a 4.9 percent share of the market and keeping its third-place spot. The Chinese company sold 9.3 million units for a 4.3 percent share of the market in the year-ago quarter.

Huawei is one of the many vendors taking advantage of Apple's lack of a big-screen phone and tapping into that market. The company will continue this strategy as it plans to launch the Ascend Mate 2 4G soon in the U.S., which features a 6.1-inch HD screen.

2. Apple

Apple's market share dropped in the quarter to 15.5 percent compared with 17.1 percent in the year-ago quarter. The share loss came even as Apple broke a company first-quarter record selling 43.7 million phones, an increase of 16.8 percent compared with 37.4 million units in the same period one year ago.

The iPhone continues to have strong sales numbers despite not being updated since late September. When Apple does release the much-anticipated iPhone 6 by the fourth quarter and the rumored large-screen version of the iPhone, expect its numbers to grow.

1. Samsung

At the top of the market yet again, Samsung sold 85 million phones this quarter, good for 30.2 percent share of the market, down from 31.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. Despite the share loss, with a 22 percent increase in unit shipments from the year ago period, Samsung sold more smartphones than Apple, Huawei, Lenovo and LG combined.

Samsung, which benefited from the sales of its low-end phones in developing international markets, continues to introduce new devices at a rapid pace. The company's latest model, the Galaxy S5, began shipping in early April.