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LG also continues to shine and Motorola rebounded slightly

Mobile sales tracking firm Counterpoint Research's latest estimates of U.S. smartphone sales in Q3 2013 bring few surprises as the industry trends we've seen playing out for the last year or so continued to run their course.
I. Counterpoint -- U.S. Quarterly Sales
Nokia Oyj.'s (HEX:NOK1V) devices unit -- a division which Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) takes ownership of in Q4 -- continued its strong growth.  The Windows Phone maker seized 4.1 percent of the U.S. market with its colorful Lumia lineup, which is good enough for fourth place.  The phonemaker roughly tripled its Q2 2013 sales share, which had been at 1.4 percent.
Third place LG Electronics, Inc. (KSC:066570), meanwhile, continued its quiet, unheralded sales success in the U.S. and global markets, taking 8.6 percent of sales.  That was down slightly from Q2 2013; the number indicate that Nokia appears to be the main party to cannibalized a bit of the South Korean OEM's sales.

U.S. Sales Q3 2013

Q3 2013 U.S. sales

In fifth place was Motorola Mobility, with 3.7 percent of sales.  The Google Inc. (GOOG) first-party Android phonemaker hasn't experienced its best year in the U.S. sales-wise, selling roughly half as many units as it did the year before.  But in Q3 it appeared that the losses had stabilized, with Motorola selling a fraction more than the 3.6 percent of sales it command in Q2 2013.
In a rough tie for first place were Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) and Apple, Inc. (AAPL)  -- something that should come as no surprise to tech observers.  In Q2 Samsung was narrowly ahead, in Q3 the script was flipped with Apple being ahead by an even narrow margin.  Apple commanded 33.7 percent of sales; Samsung won 33.6 percent of them.  Together the pair controlled two thirds of smartphone sales in the U.S.

Samusng and Apple
SamsApple... er... Samsung and Apple continued to dominate U.S. sales in Q3. [Image Source: Prefix]

It wouldn't be surprising to see Apple seize a small lead in Q4 in the U.S., based on pent-up demand, and the gains it saw in Q3.  Q3 included only 10 days worth of sales of the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S, which launched on Sept. 20.
Blackberry Ltd. now has just a little over 1 percent of the U.S. market as it continues its slow march towards the grave, with few left watching or interested.  
Of the Chinese legion ZTE Corp. (SHE:000063) was in sixth and Huawei Technologies Comp. (SHE:002502) took eight place.  Japan's Kyocera Corp. (TYO:6971) also hovered outside the top five, in seventh place.  In some ways it was the biggest surprise as the well-known feature phone maker wasn't even in the top 10 in similar rankings last year.  It is becoming a niche player thanks to its ruggedized smartphones like the Android-powered Hydro Elite 4G LTE and Torque (which generally come free with a two-year contract).
II. Comscore -- Active Devices by OEM, Usage Estimate
In terms of a more long-term look at where the market is at in terms of data usage by OEM and total device-base by OEM, comScore's numbers are interesting.  Like Counterpoint's they show a small uptick in Apple's U.S. usage for the quarter, likely from the new models.
In July-October Apple captured 40.8 percent of traffic, while Samsung saw 25.4 percent.

comScore Q3 2013 U.S.

It's important not to lose sight of the context of these figures, which again only show usage not sales.  They also only show changes in usage, not who grew the most in the quarter among all OEMs.  For that reason Nokia (who likely was fourth in U.S. sales) didn't even make the list.  Likewise Motorola and HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) -- two Android OEMs that plummeted ins ales in 2013 managed to claim fifth place and third place, respectively.

Listen to that one more time -- HTC was in third place in ComScore's rankings.  It was ninth in actual sales for the quarter, according to ComScore.  That figure emphasizes the importance of recognizing usage data as a long-running score sheet of who had the best runs averaged over the last few years -- not a tally of who is currently the hottest sellers.

iPhone 5S
For that reason I feel headlines like TheNextWeb's "comScore: Apple takes 40.6% share as top US smartphone maker..." are misleadingly worded, if technically correct.  Such phrasing fails to immediately convey that this is usage by the total legacy install base, not quarterly sales.  Some readers may skim over and miss this distinction altogether.

It should also be mentioned that it's been well noted that iOS users tend to use slightly more data than Android users.  While that gap has been closing, and in some cases may even have reversed, it likely still effectively inflated Apple's perceived marketshare a bit in the ComScore numbers.

Sources: Counterpoint Research, comScore

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By themaster08 on 12/6/2013 2:03:47 AM , Rating: 3
Have you ever used a Lumia 520/521?

If you care to look beyond its paper specs, you'll find a phone that is well designed, robust, with excellent performance and a fantastic looking screen for the price, and regardless of its resolution. After all, the Moto X's resolution is nothing too special either, and that's a mid-range phone.

The phone is extremely snappy and runs many of the latest Windows Phone titles such as Halo: Spartan Assault.

I recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy Mega, because I really like the idea of having 1 device that is both a phone and a tablet, however its overall performance it lackluster compared even the lowly Lumia 520.

By Reclaimer77 on 12/6/13, Rating: -1
By themaster08 on 12/6/2013 1:18:13 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah you lost all credibility with that BS.
Only someone such as yourself, who clearly has no experience of using Windows Phone would respond with such drivel. Every day tasks such as opening the Messages, the web browser, and just the overall fluidity of the Lumia 520 outperform the Galaxy Mega. Try both, then see what I mean. But you can't do that, because you're so mentally entrenched in Google fanboyism it's quite embarrassing.

Even less credibility. What do you think you're shoveling here? A 4" 480p display is anything but "fantastic looking"!
I guess you couldn't look beyond the paper specs after all. Just a whole load of angry remarks and no real world experience as always, Reclaimer.

At least it's HD with PPI in the 300's! Please stop with the BS, you can't be serious.
It's also substantially more expensive and the screen is larger.

By Reclaimer77 on 12/6/13, Rating: 0
By nikon133 on 12/8/2013 1:41:40 PM , Rating: 2
You can't fight, but you can troll.

13" Retina MBP has 227 dpi, if memory serves... and majority of users are using computers with much less, down to 720p screens.

Lumia 520 should have 233 dpi, and even if people do hold their phones closer to eyes than computer, on average you will get more dpi than on virtually any Windows machine, save for Samsung ATIV Book Plus... maybe.

Outside of pixel peepers category, 800x... is perfectly acceptable. In addition, at least in my parts of the world, Lumia 520 is competing price-wise with likes of Galaxy Mini and Galaxy Fame... which are both 480x... screens, single cores with less storage.

Lumia 520 is the sweetest smartphone THAT money can buy.

By Reclaimer77 on 12/9/2013 9:36:06 AM , Rating: 1
Lumia 520 is competing price-wise with likes of Galaxy Mini and Galaxy Fame... which are both 480x... screens, single cores with less storage.

Yes except nobody is standing up and screaming that those phones are the greatest things on the planet like you guys are.

I can't believe this...this.. this REALITY DISTORTION FIELD you guys have thrown up around the 520/521's! Never before have people fought so hard, to justify such a crappy purchase.

It's cheap, great, I get that. But that's where the list of Pro's end.

If you can only afford a $80 smartphone, how the hell would you know how it compares to a flagship anyway?

By YearOfTheDingo on 12/6/2013 5:49:13 AM , Rating: 2
And it should be noted that the touchscreen on the Lumia 520, like other phones in the series, works when you're wearing gloves. You can't do that even on an iPhone 5.

By Reclaimer77 on 12/6/13, Rating: 0
By themaster08 on 12/6/2013 1:19:32 PM , Rating: 3
Of course it's meh, but if it was an Android device, you'd be touting it as a unique feature.

By Alexvrb on 12/7/2013 5:00:23 PM , Rating: 2
He would have Googled in his pants! :P

Read that, Reclaimer. My personal favorite is how he says that NSA spying is just the "nature of our society" until he finds out how the NSA was tapping into their cloud network, and then all of a sudden it's "outrageous".

By Wererat on 12/6/2013 10:49:12 AM , Rating: 4
The 520/521 really is spectacular especially at $80 (wallymart's price at this moment). Wife paid $130 and I think that was a bargain.

I also think a comparison to a Nexus 5 ($349) or Moto X (also $349 at the moment) isn't possible simply because of the price differential. While I'm a very happy Win8 phone user (925, wife has the 521) I wouldn't try and say that the 521 is equal to the Moto X or Nexus 5.

(I would say my Nokia 925 is better than either, but then we get into specs vs. OS and apps, and I certainly wouldn't say a Nexus 5 or Moto X are poor devices!)

By retrospooty on 12/6/2013 11:07:41 AM , Rating: 1
It's closer to the Moto G as far as normal price point. The moto G is alot better if you ask me. Higher res, higher DPI, better CPU and OS as well.

By Wererat on 12/6/2013 11:21:10 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not going to disparage your opinion, but my experience is that WP8 is a happier experience on a lower-spec device than Android on a lower-spec device, particularly if that Android device isn't officially sporting the latest version of Android.

We who are technically able can overcome this gap somewhat by general knowledge as well as rooting, but that's work or at least an investment of time.

By nafhan on 12/6/2013 12:08:49 PM , Rating: 2
Compared to the Lumia, the Moto G isn't a lower specced device, though, and it is running a recent version of Android. It's essentially last years "high end" with more up to date software.

Prior to the Moto G's release, I would have definitely recommended a Lumia to anyone looking to save money on an off contract phone. The Android stuff previously available in that price range is just terrible.

By retrospooty on 12/6/2013 12:32:58 PM , Rating: 2
Yup... the Moto G is a 4.5 inch 720p screen with a quad core Snapdragon S4 CPU. It's a mid range phone at a low end price. The Lumia 520 is just a low end phone.

By Alexvrb on 12/7/2013 4:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
The Moto G is a good deal, but it IS around $80 or so more, and it's not as powerful as you make it sound. Not all Snapdragon 400s are created equal. The "powerful" Snapdragon 400 quad core in the Moto G uses Cortex-A7 cores. A7 is a cut-down in-order design. So you get mediocre performance, especially if the app you're running only uses one or two threads (due to poor IPC). You need 4 cores just to make an A7 chip adequate.

Here's an example to illuminate the situation. You know Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa? It has 4 powerful A15 cores, and 4 low-power A7 cores. The slower model Octa's A7 cores run at the same speed as the Moto G, too. So it would be like using the Octa 5410 with it's fast A15 cores permanently disabled, relying only on the low-power cores.

The significantly cheaper Lumia 521 is not as good as the Moto G. They're in different price brackets, different leagues. However, I've seen them left and right for ~$100 or less. They use an MSM8227, which is a "lowly" dual core - but it uses Krait cores, which have more in common with the high performance A15 than the A7/A8 chips. So in actual use, the low-end Lumia is quite decent. Especially as the OS requires very little horsepower to run well.

By nafhan on 12/10/2013 10:41:33 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know how fast you think I'm making it sound... but reviews I've seen of it are pretty positive in regards to performance.

Anyway, a cellphone is a complete finished package. Things like which CPU core they use and how fast it runs aren't as important as how the whole package performs together. In the case of the Moto G, the performance of that package is apparently pretty good - especially for the price. It seems like some of that has to do with the fast storage subsystem, which has nothing to do with the CPU used, and is a good example of why you need to look at the performance of the finished product rather than guessing based on one component.

By Reclaimer77 on 12/6/2013 12:52:52 PM , Rating: 2
Wait what? They run the same OS, and the SoC on the X clearly outperforms the Moto G.

The PPI difference is negligible, not sure you could even notice it.

Why are people so down on the Moto X? Come on, its a clearly better phone than the G. Its the flagship.

By themaster08 on 12/6/2013 1:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
He's comparing the Lumia 520 and the Moto G, not the Moto X and Moto G.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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