LONDON: Samsung, the electronics group, has strengthened its hold on the European smartphone category, and now takes over 40% of sales, new figures show.

According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, devices made by Samsung accounted for 45% of purchases in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK during the 12 weeks up to the eighth of July.

"While the majority of noise is focused on big-name products such as the S3 or S2, it's easy to forget that Samsung is selling smartphones across all tiers," said Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

"As a result it now makes up five out of the top ten best selling smartphones in Great Britain – with even the smartphone/tablet hybrid Samsung Galaxy Note making it into the top ten."

In keeping with this trend, the proportion of phones sold that use the Google Android operating system, which powers most of Samsung's phones as well as phones made by several other firms, rose from 42.7% to 65.7% year on year.

By country, Android's totals on this metric hit 87.1% in Spain and 71.5% in Germany. This amount fell to 61.5% in France, 59.5% in the United Kingdom and 54.8% in Italy.

Apple's iPhone proved strongest in the UK, on 22.9%, well ahead of Italy on 17.2%, Germany on 15.3%, France on 14% and Spain on just 2.8%. However, its share fell in four of these markets.

"As the iPhone 4S nears the end of its lifecycle, and rivals such as Samsung and HTC bring out new flagship products, we inevitably see big changes in share," said Sunnebo.

"However, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech data clearly shows that the proportion of Apple consumers who have owned their device for at least 18 months and not upgraded has increased markedly over the last quarter, indicating current owners are holding off upgrading until the release of the iPhone 5."

Conditions are considerably worse for Research in Motion's BlackBerry, which witnessed a contraction of 10.7 percentage points in the UK, to take 10.9% of the market.

It was also down by 4.7 percentage points in Spain to 5.5%, and endured a contraction of 3.2 percentage points in Germany, to only 0.7%. Its position remains most robust in France, on 9.2%.

Looking further afield, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech revealed that Apple's share in the US climbed by 9.5 percentage points year on year, to 38.2%, while Android lost 5.3 percentage points, on 51.5%.

Data sourced from Kantar Worldpanel Comtech; additional content by Warc staff