Sometime late in 2011, Samsung passed Apple and ascended to the smartphone throne.

That era began the top-dog battle between only two companies. There was no other company to challenge the two.

Apple rallied and held the No. 1 spot, based on shipments, as of 2016 but Samsung, makers of the Android, regained leadership that year and held it.

Until now.

Apple, whose iPhones are virtually synonymous with the generic “smartphone” identity – like Kleenex was for the facial tissue industry – and is an unquestioned tech giant, hit No. 1 in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a report released Monday.

The data, from the market research firm Gartner, indicates Apple’s iPhone12 has been a major success – and probably a very popular holiday gift idea.

While the Gartner numbers say Apple shipped nearly 80 million units during the quarter, another market research organization, IDC, in January reported Apple shipments at more than 90 million phones – adding that it was Apple’s best-ever quarter for its smartphone.

Huawei, which shrunk 24.1% in 2020 according to the report, remained the third-largest smartphone maker by volume.

Because Apple does not issue official reports on specific unit sales, another measure echoes its late 2020 success.

Apple reported iPhone sales for the fourth quarter at $65.6 billion, which represented an increase, year-over-year, of 17%.

While the aforementioned holiday season traditionally provides a big boost for Apple, the numbers were still impressive given that, according to an CNBC story, Apple did not have any products on sale during that time.

As the pandemic continued, the overall smartphone market in 2020 was down more than 5%, Gartner said, and Samsung actually shipped more devices over the course of the full year.

The smartphone battle is far from finished.

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