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Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) and Samsung continue to duke it out for smartphone supremacy. Samsung is now the top seller of mobile phones in the world, but that also includes low-cost and low-margin feature phones. Smartphones are really where the money's at.
In that race, the iPhone maker and South Korean conglomerate remain neck-and-neck, regularly trading the crown back and forth. If you look primarily at sales of each company's flagship product families -- the iPhone and Galaxy S series, respectively -- Apple is still ahead.
Raymond James analyst Travis McCourt estimates that Apple has sold a total of 219 million iPhones over the past three generations since June 2010, including the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5. In comparison, he believes that Samsung has sold 131 million smartphones including the Galaxy S series and Galaxy Note series over the same time. That's about 1.7 times as many unit sales for the iPhone compared to Samsung's two most popular devices. McCourt even thinks that Apple has extended its lead over Samsung over the past year.
The estimates come shortly after Samsung announced its Galaxy S lineup has now topped over 100 million unit channel sales over three generations. My calculations show that Apple outsold Samsung by approximately 2.1 times, but my methodology and time frame differed from McCourt's, who includes his estimates of fourth quarter and iPhone 5 sales.
Speaking of the fourth quarter, McCourt's official estimate on total iPhone units sits at 48 million, which is pretty close to the 48.8 million units I estimated based solely on smartphone activation data from AT&T earlier this month. However, if Ma Bell ended up selling a higher mix of iPhones and its contribution to total iPhone sales is less, Apple could have significant upside.
Apple has been a longtime pick of Motley Fool superinvestor David Gardner, and has soared 215% since he recommended it in January 2008. David specializes in identifying game-changing companies like this long before others are keen to their disruptive potential, and he helps like-minded investors profit while Wall Street catches up. I invite you to learn more about how he picks his winners with a free, personal tour of his flagship service, Supernova. Inside, you'll discover the science behind his market-trouncing returns. Just click here now for instant access.