Samsung posts record Q1 profit of $6.4 billion

South Korea's Samsung Electronics said Friday net profit soared 41.6 percent to a record 7.15 trillion won ($6.4 billion) in the first quarter of 2013, driven by strong smartphone sales.

The profit figure was up from 5.05 trillion won in the first quarter of 2012 and beat the record of 7.04 trillion won set in the fourth quarter of last year.

Operating profit rose 54 percent from a year ago to 8.8 trillion won, while sales were up 16.8 percent at 52.9 trillion won.

Analysts estimate Samsung shipped approximately 70 million smartphone units in the three months to March. The company does not release details on the number of phones it sells in its earnings reports.

The earnings figures were released on the same day as the new version of Samsung's flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, went on sale in South Korea ahead of a planned global roll-out.

In a statement Samsung said "sound sales" of the popular Galaxy S3 smartphone had aided profit margins, but cautioned that second quarter global demand was "forecast to dampen".

"We may experience stiffer competition in the mobile business due to expansion of the mid- to low-end smartphone market," said Senior Vice President Robert Yi.