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Apple and Samsung Are Now in a Dead Heat for Smartphone Dominance

Samsung sold anywhere from 71 million to 75 million smartphones in its December quarter, putting it roughly on par with Apple.

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Apple, which years ago ceded the top spot in the global smartphone market to rival Samsung, appears to have pulled into a dead heat.

The South Korean electronics giant won’t say how many smartphones it sold in its December quarter — only that it shipped some 95 million total phone handsets, and that the mix of high-end phones fell in the “high 70 percent” range.

That means Samsung’s smartphone sales over the holidays fell somewhere between 71 million and 75 million — putting it roughly on par with Apple, which sold a record 74.5 million iPhones over the same period.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook touted the success of the latest generation of big-screen iPhones to win converts from the Android platform that powers devices made by Samsung and others.

“The current iPhone lineup experienced the highest Android switcher rate in any of the last three launches in the three previous years,” Cook told investors Tuesday. “And we didn’t look back to the other years. So I don’t know about those.”

Meanwhile, Samsung, which eclipsed Apple as the leading smartphone maker in 2011, was alone among alone the top five smartphone makers to lose share this fall, according to researcher IDC.

The competition is taking its toll.

Samsung appears to have lost high-end phone customers to Apple, which jumped on the big-screen bandwagon with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus — and achieved record sales. It also been struggling to compete on the low-cost phones with manufacturers such Xiaomi and Lenovo.

The company acknowledged intensifying price and product competition during its call with analysts, but offered optimism, noting demand for smartphones will continue to grow next year.

“We are preparing innovative and differentiated products with new features,” JinYoung Park, Samsung’s vice president of the mobile communications business told investors.

Updated to include a link to an IDC report, indicating when Apple ranked as the world’s top smartphone vendor.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.