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The iPhone is seemingly no longer the Apple of British high street vendors’ eyes, as it’s toppled by Samsung smartphones as the most widely recommended devices, a new mystery shopping study reveals.

Researchers posing as customers visited eight leading retailers (John Lewis, Everything Everywhere, O2, Three, Maplins, PC World, Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U) where they ranked each manufacturer based on whether they had window or in-store advertising and by asking sales assistants to recommend three smartphones or tablets.

Although Apple and Samsung were tied as the most promoted brands, the latter’s Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note led as the devices most recommended by staff in every store except Three and Phones 4U, which recommended the iPhone 5.

"The mystery shop showed that the most recommended Samsung handsets were the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2, despite having been on the market longer than the latest handsets from Apple, Nokia and HTC,” Julian Jest of Informa Telecoms and Media, which conducted the survery.

"However, most surprising was the way that, despite an in-store advertising campaign and recent product launch, Apple was recommended in only two stores, Three and Phones 4 U, with both recommending the iPhone 5."

Informa notes, however, that it was “likely that sales assistants see the Samsung devices as a safe bet to earn greater commissions”. Still, the findings are sure to ruffle a few feathers at the Apple HQ, especially in the aftermath of reports that Samsung shipped a whopping 213 million smartphones last year compared to 135.8 million iPhones.

However, it’s a lot worse for the likes of LG, ZTE, Motorola, Huawei and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM), which had little or no presence in the recommendations.

RIM will be particularly concerned as it’s due to launch its latest smartphones powered by the all-new BlackBerry 10 operating system this week.

Have you been to a mobile shop recently and were recommended a Samsung smartphone over an iPhone? Tell us your experience in the comments section below.

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