Can Samsung beat Apple with the new Galaxy S7? – CNBC

While sales figures are one measure, a brand’s image and popularity is another, more nebulous measure and could be Samsung’s biggest challenge.

“In terms of popularity, I don’t think that Samsung has the ability to beat the iPhone,” Blair said.

Samsung has been a dominant player in emerging markets, however, with mid-tier phones priced at $200 to $500, and lower-end smartphones priced at less than $200, according to Blair. And that’s where Apple’s challenge lies, he said.

Globally, Samsung owned 19.5 percent of the smartphone market,while Apple owned 17.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to Counterpoint Research.

But both are facing competition from manufacturers with lower-priced handsets, particularly Chinese manufacturers Huawei and Xiaomi, Blair noted.

Apple did not immediately response to CNBC’s request for comment.

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