New data from the Juniper Research mobile analyst firm ( shows Samsung and Apple trading places once again in the smartphone market, in what is increasingly becoming a two-horse race.

In the first quarter of 2012, the company estimates that nearly 60% of the 139 million smartphones shipped worldwide carried either the Apple (35.1 million) or Samsung (46.9 million) brand — up from 46% in the last three months of 2011. While Apple and Samsung have taken it in turns to lead the smartphone market over the last four quarters, it seems as if Samsung may now have established a firm lead in this space, shipping 11.8 million more units that the Cupertino, California company in quarter one, according to Juniper Research.

Samsung tops sales, but Apple leads in revenue

With the iPhone launch craze now past, the analyst firm believes Samsung may hold onto its lead next quarter. However, as Daniel Ashdown, research analyst with Juniper Research notes: “Apple’s revenues from its ‘mobile division’ continues to remain significantly higher than Samsung’s, even when you take into account the latter’s feature phones.”

Apple’s iPhone revenue was US$22.7 billion in Q1 ($29.3 billion including the iPad), compared with Samsung’s KRW18.9 trillion (~$17.0 billion) from its entire mobile division. While flagship devices, the Samsung Galaxy SII and Galaxy Note contribute substantial unit volumes, the company’s rise to top spot is evidence of the smartphone’s entry into mass market price points with products like the Galaxy Y, according to Juniper Research.