Apple has been successful at gaining ground on the world smartphone leader, Samsung, in the second quarter, but the Korean firm is still the leader. Market research firm Gartner reported that the second quarter witnessed the slowest growth in the market in the past two years.

Apple Inc. Closes In On Samsung In Smartphone Sales

Apple benefits from Samsung’s costs

Apple’s sales rose 36% in the second quarter, and the company sold 48 million smartphones in this period. On the other hand, Samsung sales dipped 5.3% in the quarter to 72 million units. Apple’s market share rose from 12% to 14.6%, while Samsung’s share declined from 26% to 21.9%.

“Apple’s double-digit growth in the high-end segment continued to negatively impact its rivals’ premium phone sales and profit margins,” Gartner said, adding that to remain competitive in the mid-range and low-end smartphone segments, many smartphone vendors were forced to realign their portfolios.

Apple’s larger screen iPhones have competed effectively with Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones. A few days ago, Samsung launched its new Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ in hopes of winning back its lost sales and market share.

Chinese vendors gaining popularity

Apart from Apple, Chinese vendors offering comparative features at lower prices are also eating into Samsung’s sales. Huawei, which bagged third place, witnessed the biggest jump with sales rising 46.3% in the quarter. The market share for the Chinese firm rose to 7.8% from 6.1%. Lenovo came in fifth, followed by Xiaomi.

Smartphone sales grew 13% globally to 330 million in the second quarter, marking the slowest growth rate over the past two years. While the growth rate went up in emerging markets, in most of the other regions, sales were kind of “mixed,” the director of Gartner research, Anshul Gupta said. The demand in emerging markets continues to grow due to the popularity of lower-cost 3G and 4G smartphones, the executive said.

Gupta said the Chinese smartphone market has reached a state of saturation, adding, “Its phone market is essentially driven by replacement, with fewer first-time buyers.” Vendors need to offer more premium devices to the customers to enable users to upgrade, and “maintain or grow their market share in China,” Gupta said.