Apple's record holiday quarter helped push the company ahead of Samsung as the top mobile phone maker in the U.S. for the first time ever, according to Strategy Analytics. That's for all mobile phones, not just smartphones, with the Cupertino-based firm selling a whopping 17.7 million iPhones during Q4 2012 versus Samsung's 16.8 million. Together the two companies accounted for 66% of the market.

Taking the lead in the US mobile phone market is no small feat for Apple considering its streamlined product lineup basically comprises the flagship iPhone 5 and two older generation models sold at discounted prices. Whether they'll be able to hold on to the top spot over the next quarters is another question, however, as Apple and Samsung engage in a back and forth battle through seasonal ups and downs and device launches.

The companies' gains aren't always coming at the expense of each other. In fact, both Apple and Samsung are up in terms of shipments and market share compared to the same period a year earlier, while the piece of the pie for the rest of the industry continued to get smaller. Case in point, LG placed a distant third with an estimated 4.7 million mobile phones shipped in the US last quarter, down from 6.9 million in Q4 2011. Its market share in the US slipped from 13.7% a year ago to 9.0% while all others in aggregate went from 34% to 24.6%.

Over the span of the whole year Samsung remained the undisputed leader in the U.S with a total of 53 million handsets shipped versus Apple's 43.7 million. The South Korean firm should see a surge in shipments next quarter when it is expected to release the follow-up to its popular Galaxy S III smartphone.

U.S. Mobile Phone Shipments (Millions of Units)

  Q4 2011 2011 Q4 2012 2012
Apple 12.8 29.7 17.7 43.7
Samsung 13.5 52.3 16.8 53.0
LG 6.9 30.5 4.7 20.5
Others 17.1 74.3 12.8 49.7
Total 50.2 186.8 52.0 166.9

U.S. Mobile Phone Market Share

  Q4 2011 2011 Q4 2012 2012
Apple 25.4% 15.9% 34.0% 26.2%
Samsung 26.9% 28.0% 32.3% 31.8%
LG 13.7% 16.3% 9.0% 12.3%
Others 34.0% 39.8% 24.6% 29.8%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%