Android phone sales toppled iOS late last year

The tides are shifting in Google's favor
The tides are shifting in Google's favor

Android may have finally overtaken iOS smartphone sales, at least over the holidays, according to a new report from Kantar Worldpanel.

According to the consumer panel research group, all Android devices taken together accounted for 49.4 percent of U.S. smartphone sales in the three month period ending January 2013.

iOS devices, on the other hand, represented 45.9 percent of smartphone sales for the same months.

The shift was helped by a 6.4 percent increase in Android sales from the previous year, while iOS sales were down 4.7 percent.

Android's 'Sprint' to the top

The report points to Sprint for a large part of Android's sales surge.

Android and iOS sales with Sprint were even at around 50 percent prior to the three-month period, but in the last months of 2012 Android accounted for 71.9 percent of Sprint's sales.

Price was also a factor, with the average Android device's price dropping during the holidays.

Of particular note was the Samsung Galaxy S3, which saw a holiday price cut from $199 to $99 with Sprint, and accounted for 39 percent of the carrier's total smartphone sales.

Despite the Android sales boost that Kantar attributes to Sprint, the carrier only saw a 0.8 percent growth in smartphone sales over the previous year.

Kantar's research comes a panel of consumers, consisting of more than 240,000 consumer interviews each year.

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Of course, the report doesn't break down overall sales for any individual Android devices during the three-month holiday season, but it does illustrate a shift in the smartphone OS audience that could continue to grow into 2013.

With Samsung's Galaxy S4 getting a big time NYC introduction in just a few weeks, Apple might want to see if it can speed up its next iDevice's timeline.