Apple racks up another first: it's named No. 1 phone maker in US

Apple iPhone 5 boxes
Strong sales don't hurt

It's a bit of a given now that Apple's iPhones are a popular choice in the U.S., especially considering the staggering number that have been sold in the past few months.

That said, Samsung has stayed largely unchallenged as the No. 1 phone company since 2008, with an estimated 63 million sold during the final three months of 2012 alone.

It's impressive then to learn Apple actually supplanted Samsung as the top phone maker in the U.S. during that time frame, marking it as the first such occurrence in the company's history.

The data comes courtesy of a report from Strategy Analytics, a market research firm, and though Apple still can't quite grasp Samsung's overall total, securing an entire country over a chief rival is surely a nice way to start the new year.

Apple's pie

Apple is estimated to have shipped 17.7 million iPhones in the U.S. during the fourth quarter, which was a nearly 10 percent jump from 2011's 12.8 million.

Conversely, Samsung was able to ship 16.8 million smartphones in that same period, which was almost 6 percent better than it performed in 2011.

Those massive numbers gave Apple (34 percent) and Samsung (32.3 percent) the lion's share of the mobile market during the fourth quarter.

For comparison, LG, the third place manufacturer, was able to ship 4.7 million phones in the U.S., and captured 12.3 percent of the market.

All of the other mobile companies combined couldn't even manage to grasp a full quarter of the market during Q4.

Heavy is the head

Apple will have its work cut out for it if the company hopes to keep the crown it earned in the U.S. in those waning moments of 2012.

Samsung is expected to reveal a Galaxy S4, which for all intents and purposes, could outpace the insanely popular Galaxy S3 in overall sales.

Rumors of Apple's iPhone 5S have been persistent as well, but with new competition from Sony in the Xperia Z and Motorola's possible X Phone, the race for the belt will be tougher than ever.

For now though, Apple can lay claim to being the first to slay the Samsung dragon, even if it was just for a short while.