According to the latest ChangeWave Research survey posted Monday, both Apple and Samsung are enjoying “explosive momentum” as 2012 begins while other handset makers are struggling to win the hearts of minds of consumers, such as Canada-based Research In Motion, which today updated its struggling BlackBerry platform with new software features, and Taiwan-based HTC, which posted a 26 percent income drop today —its first quarterly profit decline in two years.

Based on data obtained from 4,000 North American consumers, 13 percent of respondents planning to buy a smartphone in the next 90 days are considering a Samsung device. This represents a notable 8 percent increase in planned buying since the previous ChangeWave survey and “nearly a tripling of consumer interest in Samsung phones just since fall 2011.”

According to ChangeWave:

In contrast to Apple’s single phone approach, Samsung has a broad portfolio of Android phones that it continues to expand and refresh, including its flagship Galaxy line.

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As for Apple, some 54 percent of respondents planning to buy a smartphone in the next 90 days will opt for an iPhone. This is a drop from 65 percent last quarter, but more than enough to keep the coveted title of the most sought-after device. The iPhone’s “industry leading” customer satisfaction remains off the chart at 75 percent by vendor and mobile OS each (3 in 4 iPhone owners said they are ‘Very Satisfied’ with their device). Google’s Android is second with 47 percent mobile OS satisfaction rating and Samsung and HTC are at 47 percent each.

In regard to Samsung, which recently launched Galaxy Nexus smartphone in partnership with Google:

The just released Galaxy Nexus – the first U.S. 4G phone running Android’s new 4.0 operating system (Ice Cream Sandwich) – appears to be a major driving force behind the leap in Samsung planned buying. Samsung’s 4.0 OS update to some of its most popular models during the 1st Quarter is also heightening consumer interest.

ChangeWave Research explained Apple’s lead:

The late December survey looked at smart phone demand trends going forward, and finds Apple iPhone demand remains incredibly strong more than two months after the iPhone 4S release.

ChangeWave, a division of 451 Research, previously found out that Siri helped the iPhone 4S become the most beloved iPhone yet and that 1 in 3 Android users could be in the market for an iPhone. This new research spells trouble for HTC and Research In Motion as only 3 percent of respondents plan to buy an HTC device and just 2 percent said they would consider a BlackBerry. Some 6 percent of respondents in the previous quarter said they would buy an HTC device. Windows OS, which includes both the new Windows Phone software and the older Windows Mobile, jumped 8 percent points since ChangeWave’s previous survey. Even though Windows OS still trails the leaders, it had no trouble leaving RIM OS in the dust with customer satisfaction (32 percent are ‘Very Satisfied’ with Windows OS versus 22 percent for RIM OS). However, “the high Windows Phone rating has yet to produce a sustained momentum boost for Microsoft in terms of buyer preferences.”

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