GLOBAL: Google's Android operating system has retained a commanding lead in Europe while also capturing a record 85% of global smartphone shipments, according to two new reports, one of which also showed Xiaomi challenging Samsung in China.

According to the latest quarterly smartphone data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Android secured 74% market share in Europe in Q2 2014, followed by Apple (15.3%), and Windows took 8.8%.

While Samsung remained the dominant manufacturer of Android handsets with 44% share of Europe's five largest markets – the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain – Android received a significant boost from smaller vendors, such as Huawei of China, Alcatel OneTouch and Wiko.

Apple's share in Europe remained static, the report said, although sales of its iPhone 5C almost equalled those of the iPhone 5S in the UK.

"The iPhone 5C continues to attract a different audience from the 5S, with its customers tending to be female, mid to late-adopters and less affluent," explained Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Whereas smaller manufacturers have been taking market share from traditional vendors in Europe, the situation was different in the US where consumers continued to stick with the larger players, Apple and Samsung, which Sunnebo said had benefited from strong marketing.

"In the USA, Samsung's marketing power continues to play a key part in driving sales of the S5," he said. "Some 61% of Galaxy S5 buyers recall seeing TV ads relating to the handset while 40% remember seeing online advertisements."

By contrast, Chinese consumers showed less attachment to the large brands and local manufacturer Xiaomi surged ahead to take 27% market share of sales in urban China compared with 21% for Samsung.

Its budget Xiaomi RedMi model proved to be particularly popular and Sunnebo said Xiaomi's success "isn't expected to slow down any time soon".

Meanwhile, a separate report from research firm Strategy Analytics revealed global smartphone shipments grew 27% year-on-year to 295m units in Q2 2014, and Android OS took a record 85% global market share.

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said: "Like the PC market, Android is on the verge of turning smartphone platforms into a one-horse race. Its low-cost services and user-friendly software remain wildly attractive to hardware makers, operators and consumers worldwide."

It comes as Samsung, facing tough competition in China, announced its first quarterly year-on-year fall in net profit in nearly three years, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Net profit fell 20% to 6.25tr won ($6.1bn) from 7.77 tr won a year earlier while revenue fell 8.9% to 52.35tr won. Samsung hopes to restore the situation by launching two new high-end smartphones in the next six months.

Data sourced from Kantar Worldpanel, Strategy Analytics, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc