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Apple’s iPhone tops UK holiday smartphone shopping

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Apple’s iPhone 4S (s aapl) is on a roll this holiday in the UK, where it accounted for almost a quarter of all smartphone sales during the four weeks leading up to Dec. 9, according to research firm GfK (via Financial Times). The iPhone brand performed well in general, with five versions of the phone appearing in the top 15 handsets sold during the first week of December.

Other manufacturers who did well include Samsung, which took the second spot for the week prior to Dec. 9 with its Galaxy S II Android-powered (s goog) smartphone. BlackBerry (s rimm) also saw sales boosts ahead of the holidays, but Microsoft (s msft) and Nokia (s nok) didn’t score with Lumia Windows Phone 7 handsets, failing to crack the top 10 during the four weeks covered in the study.

The performance of the 4S is great news for Apple, since it means the iPhone withstood the arrival of attractive new entries from competitors with relative ease. Chinese manufacturers entering the market with low-cost options like Huawei and ZTE also didn’t seem to take too much wind out of Apple’s sails, perhaps due in part to the continued strong performance of Apple’s nearly three-year-old iPhone 3GS, which reduces the cost of entry for iPhone ownership by being available for free with contract or lowering the minimum monthly requirement on contract commitments through some UK carriers.

Analysts have lately been revising their predictions for holiday iPhone sales upward in light of this strong performance. Predictions for how many iPhones Apple will ship during the current quarter range from 28 to 31 million units, and Apple CEO Tim Cook himself said during the company’s mid-October earnings call that the Apple is “very confident” it will “set an all-time record” for iPhone sales during the holiday quarter.

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