Smartphone Market Sees Slowest Growth Rate In Six Years, Samsung Maintains Lead Over Apple

Has the smartphone market reached a point of diminishing returns? Time will tell, though according to market research firm Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments only grew 10 percent to 354 million units in the third quarter of 2015. That sounds like a lot, but it actually represents the industry's slowest growth rate "since the depths of the global economic recession back in 2009."

It's tough to get a beat on the smartphone market. While Strategy Analytics notes a slowed rate of growth due to increasing penetration in major markets of the U.S., Europe, and China, there's some conflicting data when you examine individual smartphone makers, particularly the top two dogs (Samsung and Apple).

Samsung and Apple Phones

Just a few days ago, Apple trumpeted its best quarter ever in terms of revenue and profit, which capped off its best fiscal year in the history of the world's most valuable company. The main driver of Apple's record revenue was its iPhone line, which saw a 22 percent year-over-year increase overall, and a 99 percent jump in China. If phone sales are slowing, it doesn't appear to be affecting Apple.

The same is true of Samsung, which shipped 83.8 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2015. That's more than any other smartphone maker on the planet and also representative of a 6 percent annual bump in shipments for Samsung.

"Samsung has finally returned to positive smartphone growth for the first time in six quarters since Q1 2014," Strategy Analytics said. "Its smartphone division is back on the road to recovery."

That's pretty impressive if the overall market is truly contracting. Also interesting is that Samsung, Apple, and Huawei all shipped millions more smartphones in the third quarter of 2015 than they did in the same quarter a year ago.