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Samsung had it rough during the third quarter (Q3) of 2016.
After a brisk start to Q3, a string of fires caused by faulty batteries forced the world's leading smartphone maker to recall its Galaxy Note 7. Samsung saw its smartphone sales dip 14.2 percent, compared to last year (71.7 million in Q3 2016 versus 83.6 million in Q3 2015), said Gartner in its latest market snapshot.
Despite this and diminishing iPhone sales, the smartphone market managed to eke out a 5.4-percent gain, year-over-year. Last quarter, the world's vendors sold 373.2 million smartphones compared to 354.2 million, an increase owed to the rise of Chinese brands.
"China led the growth in the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2016," said Gartner research director Anshul Gupta in a statement. "Sales of smartphones in China grew by 12.4 percent, and the vendors who most successfully exploited the sales opportunities there were Oppo and BBK Communication Equipment."
Strong demand at home is helping them cement their places in the big leagues.
Gupta noted that 89 percent of the 19.9 million BBK smartphones sold during Q3 remained in China. Similarly, most of Oppo's case most of the nearly 25 million smartphones it sold (81 percent) stayed in the company's home market.
Although Samsung's woes weren't enough to knock it off its perch at the top with nearly 20 percent of the overall market, but the company can expect more weakness in the coming months.
"The decision to withdraw the Galaxy Note 7 was correct, but the damage to Samsung's brand will make it harder for the company to increase its smartphone sales in the short term," Gupta said. "For Samsung, it's crucial that the Galaxy S8 launches successfully, so that partners and customers regain trust in its brand."
A new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll has encouraging news for Samsung on the front.
Samsung customers are fiercely loyal. Ninety-one percent of current Samsung users said would likely buy another smartphone from the company. According to the Reuters report, Samsung's brand loyalty rivals that of Apple iPhone owners (92 percent).
Arriving late into Q3, Apple's "iPhone 7 struggled to stimulate replacement sales" said Gartner. Apple took the number two spot with sales of 43 million iPhones and an 11.5-percent share of the market. Huawei, Oppo and BBK round out the top five.
Android dominates the smartphone OS market, powering 87.8 percent of all phones sold in Q3, or nearly 328 million devices. Apple iOS is a distant second with 11.5 percent. Microsoft Windows and Blackberry hang onto a sliver of the market, with shares of 0.4 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.