Apple beats Samsung to top holiday phone activations

Apple had nearly twice as many phone activations this holiday season as its rival Samsung, according to new research released Tuesday.

About 44 percent of new phone activations during the holidays were Apple’s iPhones, compared with Samsung’s 21 percent, said mobile-app analytics firm Flurry. While the iPhone continues to be the gift of choice, Flurry noted Samsung is “slowly growing in popularity throughout the holiday season, up 1 percent from last year.”

Rounding out the list of top manufacturers by activation were Huawei with 3 percent and LG, Amazon, Oppo, Xiaomi and Motorola with 2 percent each. The wide gap between the top two and the rest of the field underscores the long-standing domination Apple and Samsung have had over the global phone market.

Medium-size phones, such as Apple’s iPhone 7 and Samsung’s Galaxy S7, continue to be the most popular mobile type, but their popularity waned from 54 percent last year to 45 percent this holiday season, Flurry found.

Some of that decline was due to phablets — those oversized handsets like Apple’s new iPhone 7 Plus — which continue to eat away at sales of medium-size phones. During the holidays, phablets accounted for 37 percent of device activations compared with 27 percent during the 2015 holiday season, Flurry reported.

The data, derived from examining app activations throughout the week leading up to Christmas day and the start of Chanukah, comes amid an industrywide “phone fatigue.” Consumers in mature markets, like the US and China, have been turned off by a lack of exciting features in new phones, causing more of them to stick with their current smartphones.