Top 5 Smartphone Brands In Q4 U.S. Market

Top Of The List

A new study from Chicago-based market research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners revealed phone activations in the U.S. for the fourth quarter of 2014.

Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of the research firm, said generally good or bad quarters for top phone brands are based on phone launches, which meant Apple stuck out in the fourth quarter due to its release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the fall.

The data is based on findings from 500 U.S. subjects that activated a new or used phone in the October to December time period.

Following are the top five phone brands with strongest U.S. market share in the fourth quarter of 2014.

5. HTC

The Taiwanese manufacturer of Android and Windows smartphones took fifth place in the smartphone race, with 2 percent of the market share.

Levin said that HTC, along with several other companies, such as Nokia, Amazon and BlackBerry, held slight market shares.

"No other brand accounted for as much as 5 percent of U.S. sales," he said. "The Amazon Fire and BlackBerry smartphones registered slight share, which we attribute to random samples fluctuation as much as actual sales."

4. Motorola

Motorola took a slightly higher market share in the fourth quarter of 2014 than HTC, with 4 percent, but Levin stressed that the company was a "niche player."

The Marlborough, Mass.-based mobility handset maker was bought by China's Lenovo Group from Google in the fall.

3. LG

LG came in third place as a leading phone brand with high levels of activations in the U.S., taking 11 percent of the market share.

"I'm surprised that LG didn't have a bigger share," said Levin. "It's coming down to LG and Samsung fighting to pick up Apple's scraps. LG has done well. They don't have nearly the market that Samsung does but 11 percent is still big compared to some of the other companies."

LG unveiled its G Flex2, a sleeker, curved phone with a 5.5-inch display, at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier in January.

2. Samsung

Though Samsung was ranked as the second-biggest phone brand in the fourth quarter of 2014, taking 26 percent of U.S. market share, it was still short of front-runner Apple's 50 percent of market share by a long run.

According to the study, Samsung underwent a rough quarter, as its share fell from 31 percent in the October-December 2013 quarter. Levin said that that those sales were given up to LG, which saw a share increase from 8 percent in the October-December 2013 quarter.

Samsung also fell short for its customer loyalty base, the study found, as 25 percent of Samsung owners and 18 percent of LG owners who activated a phone in the quarter switched to an iPhone.

1. Apple

Out of the phone brand shares, Apple took first by a long shot, taking almost 50 percent of activations.

Analysts pointed to Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus launch as the main contributing factor in the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's success.

"Because of the iPhone launch, Apple increased its share considerably over the 28 percent in the July-September quarter," said Levin. "For most of the earlier quarter, buyers held off buying Apple phones in anticipation of the launch."

Another important factor was Apple's loyal customer base, as 86 percent of buyers upgraded from an older iPhone.

"By every measure, Apple's 2014 phone launch was a success," said Levin.