Apple's iPhone now overtakes Samsung in the "brand recognition" category by only 1% in China, according to the most recent survey conducted by Taipei-based TrendForce.

Samsung's brand image, notably, has been improving steadily in China. For the second quarter this year, approximately 79.6% of the Chinese interviewees named the Korean company when asked of the smartphone brands that "immediately come to mind."

Although HTC and Nokia rank behind only Apple and Samsung in the "brand recognition" category, neither appears to be as popular as they were a year before. In the "most-used smartphone brand" category, for instance, Nokia has slid from first place in 2012 to third place this year. HTC, likewise, fell behind Huawei and came fifth. In this year's "most-anticipated smartphone purchase" category, Nokia and HTC are in fourth and fifth places, respectively.

In the "brand recognition" category, Xiaomi, Lenovo, and Huawei gained fifth, sixth, and seventh places, respectively, whereas the foreign brand Nokia ended up with fourth place. In the "most-anticipated smartphone purchase" category, all the three Chinese smartphone brands above showed steady growth compared to the same period a year ago. The slight decline spotted in Xiaomi's percentage share in the "most-used smartphone brand" category is suspected to be caused by the company's shortage of components as well as decreased shipment levels.

TrendForce says it expects Xiaomi's aggressive pricing strategy to affect the average smartphone prices in the Chinese market, and in turn intensify the competition among mid-end smartphone makers.

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