LONDON: Sony and LG have made gains in the European smartphone market as consumers in economically troubled Mediterranean countries opt for cheaper handsets, according to new research.

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's latest data on the smartphone OS market is based on data gathered by the Kantar Worldpanel ComTech global consumer panel.

"There is an increasing divide in the mobile dynamics across Europe, driven by different levels of handset subsidies and differing economic performances," said Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

"The increasing desire for handsets costing under €150 in Spain and Italy has helped Sony and LG to drive serious share gains," he added.

Sony had a 19% share in Spain in the three months to April 2013, while LG took a 17% share, up from 3% in the same period a year earlier.

Kantar Worldpanel ComTech said these growths in share were driven primarily by entry level handsets such as the Sony Xperia U and LG Optimus L3/L5 models.

Sunnebo contrasted the performance of the more expensive Samsung Galaxy SIII handset, which accounted for 23.5% of all smartphone sales in Germany in the three months to April 2013, compared with just 4.7% in Spain.

The Android operating system continued to lead in nearly all the markets surveyed, with particular dominance in Spain where it had a 92.8% share, up from 81.1% a year earlier. Japan was the only market where Apple's iOS claimed top spot.

Android remained the number one OS in the US with a 51.7% share, but Apple grew at a slightly faster rate and held the number two spot with 41.4% share.

In the UK, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech noted that Apple had responded to Android's range of products and prices and had been driving sales of its older iPhone 4S and 4 models through increasingly competitive pricing.

Sunnebo also noted that Windows phones were becoming increasingly popular with consumers, as its UK market share had more than doubled from 4.0% to 8.4%.

The Windows OS also posted a significant increase in France, where its share rose from 2.5% to 6.2%. Spain was the only market where Windows registered a fall in shares, down from 2.5% to 1.5%.

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